Agile Testing Vs. Waterfall Testing

The Types of Testing

In the world of testing, two major software development approaches stand above the rest.  The first is the Waterfall approach and the second is the Agile approach.  What sets these two apart, you ask?  On a superficial level, the Waterfall approach is more structured and rigid, while the Agile approach is more flexible and malleable.  Of course, there are plenty of differences that set these two development approaches apart in the real world.  Perhaps a client wants a project completed quickly and efficiently with simplistic parameters and minimal interference?  If that’s the case, then the Waterfall model might suit them.  If a client wants a more measured and case by case style development process, perhaps the Agile model suits their needs.  Regardless, these two methods have a plethora of pros and cons to get to, so let Solution-Soft walk you through it! 

For starters, in the Waterfall model, software development is completed in a single project, which is subsequently split into different phases.  This can be thought of as a singular race.  With Agile, the development is considered to be many different projects that create a cohesive whole in the end.  These can be thought of as a series of small sprints.  At the end of each sprint, assessment occurs.  A sprint on an Agile project is a mini-project itself, usually lasting between 2 to 4 weeks. This allows for feedback that often leads to tweaking and eventual upgrades with the software.  As a result, Agile focuses on customer satisfaction and customer participation in the development phase.  Due to this, Agile is much more suited to ever evolving projects with the current technological landscape in mind.  The Waterfall model, on the other hand, focuses more on the step-by-step process and ultimate completion of a test.  That is why the Waterfall model is more suited for projects with easily definable lines and clear cut requirements not subject to change.

The Differences

You may think change is inevitable with multiple phases in a project’s development and, while you would be right, these two approaches actually handle this in different ways.  While there are many phases in a project’s lifecycle, from planning, and building, to testing, one of the main differences between Waterfall testing and Agile testing is the approach to the testing phase itself.  In Waterfall, the testing phase happens after the building phase.  This means clients must be concise and clear on requirements before development begins.  Once the project begins, there cannot be any changes made.  Other phases of development, like design or testing, have to be complete once in Waterfall as well.  In Agile, the testing phase happens in conjunction with programming and there is a much more developed approach.  This means that changes can be made throughout and requirements can change after the planning stage if they need to. Phases like prototyping and planning tend to appear multiple times unlike in the Waterfall model.

This leads me to the obvious benefits of Agile Testing.  For one, this method can allow for alterations to be made and even rewrites of the program can occur to enhance the end product.  Due to this, it’s much simpler to add in features that keep you up to date with current developments and trends within your industry during the development of your project.  This can lead to catching bugs in the development cycle.  This method also encourages a customer relationship where feedback fuels the product’s creation.  This means that the customer gets exactly what they want at the end of the process.  While this sounds ideal, with good comes the bad.  Due to such intense supervision, the Agile method can lead to jeopardizing the original integrity of the project.  In addition to that, if an amateur project manager is in charge, the project can become sprint oriented and spin its wheels.  This can lead to the project finishing over budget and over time.

The Waterfall method, on the other hand, is safeguarded against such issues.  Due to the rigorous and often rigid development process, the project is almost guaranteed to finish on time and within budget.  It also lends itself to having detailed records of the process to be able to refer to in the future and improve on with time.  This helps with quality assurance and employee turnover.  If an employee leaves the project, another one can be on-boarded quickly and not miss a beat.  Unfortunately, the Waterfall method does not lend itself well to making changes or going back to previous stages to catch anyone up on mistakes.  If those strict requirements are not pristine from the get go, or if any bugs get through, the project can be irreparably damaged and has to start over from the beginning.  This, combined with the fact that the Waterfall method fails to consider the client’s evolving requirements, makes this a risky method unless the client is 100% sure of their needs prior to the start of development. 

The Decision

With that knowledge in mind, it is important to note that Solution-Soft’s products, such as Time Machine, is not used or configured differently based on the software development approach.  Test cases are an artifact derived from the requirement or user story and a test case may or may not have a time sensitive aspect to it.  If it does, Waterfall or not, Solution-Soft can call on the Sync Server from the test automation script and time travel the environment for the validation of the test case. 

Whether you choose the more collaborative and current Agile method or the reliable and rigid Waterfall method, you’re bound to have a successful testing process. Time Machine will not be affected by your decision.  The final choice depends on what your client wants out of the project, so regardless of what you end up choosing, choose wisely and happy testing!