With software companies increasingly looking for alternatives to traditional development methodologies, what advantages does agile performance testing provide?
Our world is evolving at an exponential rate as technological innovation begets more innovation, pushing economic performance and consumer behaviour into states of constant flux. Now, a business’s success relies on its ability to make changes to software more frequently and at a higher velocity.
Unfortunately for software developers, this need for fast and frequent code change doesn’t necessarily mean bigger teams. And, with quality vital for discerning consumers and plenty of competition waiting in the wings, the stakes are higher than ever.
Suffice to say, new ways of working are needed, including new ways of making sure that software performs to the highest standard.
What Makes Agile Performance Testing Different?
The demand for more frequent and faster software changes puts huge pressure on developers who have seen the shortcomings of traditional performance testing again and again.
In these environments, testing occurs in bulk after development is complete and bugs aren’t identified until the end of the development cycle. Often this means developers find themselves drastically behind schedule or even back at square one after days or weeks of work.
Instead, agile performance testing is performed iteratively throughout the development cycle, so defects are identified and fixed earlier.
It’s important to note that rather than simply examining an application (for example, checking it performs a certain function), performance testing measures how well the application performs a specific function (for example, how quickly it completes a transaction).
Agile performance testing is therefore also a test of your infrastructure and how it interacts with the application. Unsurprisingly, this requires a different set of skills and tools than UX or functional testing.
The Benefits of Agile Performance Testing
1. Increased Rate of Software Change
Instead of waiting for a fully developed and functionally stable application, agile performance testing begins as soon as coding is underway and is repeated throughout the project. For example, once code is written, after a new feature is functional, after the new feature is fully integrated into the app and then during the regression stage.
Discovering performance issues as early as feasible is vital because a solution is often not possible with code changes alone. Frequently, fixing performance issues requires changes to system architecture, footprint or topology – all of which are costly and time-consuming.
Identifying these types of problems early in a project means fixes can explored and enacted while development continues, instead of releases having to be delayed because problems weren’t discovered until development was practically wrapped up.
2. Reduce Costs
There are two ways agile performance development can decrease your costs and both also help you increase the speed of your development cycle. Firstly, identifying performance issues earlier in development can be the difference between noticing a huge mistake after two hours of development and noticing it after two days of creating an entire update.
Not only will the error be fixed sooner, but there won’t be the added complication of trying to develop a fix that minimises the effect on the rest of the code you’ve written.
Secondly, agile performance testing can reduce costs because when you discover a bug, you know it can only result from code changes made since the last round of testing. This makes it far easier to identify the cause of the issue and saves you from searching through a huge backlog of code.
3. Improved Software Performance
Often, performance testing is the final barrier between software in development and software that's released to the public. Many development teams therefore end up treating performance testing as a nuisance, despite it being a vital step in quickly delivering stable applications and updates.
This undoubtedly fosters a culture where thorough and complete performance testing is seen as a luxury, rather than a necessity. Ultimately, this regularly results in releases that are deemed "good enough" after rushed or non-existent testing – perhaps eating up resources unnecessarily or failing spectacularly when your infrastructure is pushed to its limits.
However, under Agile performance testing methodology, testers are involved from the get-go and should be working on a comprehensive plan for testing ass soon as a list of features are locked-down for a release – including defining the acceptable performance parameters.
The performance testing team then provides recommendations and feedback throughout the development lifecycle. During planning and the initial writing of code, performance best-practices are highlighted, ensuring they are implemented wherever possible. Feedback is also shared after each round of testing and code fixes are made to achieve the required performance standards.
By including and prioritising performance testing from the very beginning of development it's almost guaranteed that releases will perform far more robustly and performance parameters will be achieved. Our performance testing expertise allowed us to help a top UK retailer not just navigate their Christmas peak, but take advantage of the increased traffic thanks to a 98% improvement in application response time.
4. Reduce Business Risk
Simply put, the more frequently you change an application's code, the greater the likelihood of bugs occurring, and the risk of a mistake being made is relative to the size, difficulty and extent of the changes.
In the early stages of the project, performance or response-time testing at the code level can be performed to understand function or method response times and memory leak issues. As development nears completion and new features are ready to be integrated into an app, or new apps integrated into a wider software ecosystem, you prevent performance issues resulting from interactions between new and old code.
By testing from the very first stages of development you can eliminate bugs earlier, which minimises the risk of delaying project delivery or disturbing wider business systems. In e-commerce systems this means reducing the risk of lost revenue, while in public-facing IT services you cut the risk of damage to your reputation from performance slowdown or critical errors.
5. Increase Revenue
Whatever changes you make during your next development project, when you get down to it, the real target is likely to be an increase in revenue for your organisation – which requires applications that perform to the best of their ability.
Agile performance testing ensures that performance isn’t overlooked during development. By using readily available tools, you can put your application through its paces in a range of realistic scenarios, for example, e-commerce applications can simulate peak trading periods or events that drastically reduce bandwidth.
This means you can navigate potential pitfalls before encountering them in the real world and ensure your applications keep going no matter what they face – maximising revenue at all times. In fact, we were able to help Dominos increase the capacity of their new online ordering platform by 141%, empowering them to accommodate record-breaking sales.
A Forward-Thinking Testing Framework for Forward-Thinking Organisations
Essentially, agile performance testing provides your organisation with a framework that’s perfectly suited to today’s software industry – empowering you to meet demand for fast and frequent releases.
The result is software that delivers exceptional performance, which means optimum end-user experience and quick updates whenever they’re required without any impact to the stability of your live systems. And it actually saves you time and money compared to traditional software testing.
To find out more about how you can deliver new software more quickly without increasing business risk, download our ebook, Agile Performance: How to Move Fast and Not Break Things.