Continuous testing vs. Waterfall: How to combine the two for optimum results
Software development and testing is a rigorous process that requires comprehensive planning, research, and implementation to develop a product that adheres to the customer’s requirement.
Various organizations customize their methodology for their software development lifecycle. However, the end goal is usually the same, i.e., to deliver quality software promptly with minimum cost.
Waterfall and continuous testing have their own set of characteristics that make them superior to the other depending on the internal and external factors. These factors can include the time required for delivery, client’s expectations, expected changes in the pre-defined specifications, etc. Therefore, companies seek to combine the two testing methods to incur the best testing practice.
Continuous testing (209)
Continuous testing is a process of implementing automated tests as a part of the software delivery pipeline. This allows the developers to procure immediate insight about the risks associated with releasing the software or moving it along the development pipeline.
Currently, companies are pushing to release innovative upgrades or high-quality software at a monumental pace to keep abreast with the technological advancements. Continuous testing allows the developers to expedite the development process without compromising the end user experience and avoiding software malfunctioning.
By embedding the testing phase within the development cycle, you can evaluate each stage of the software architecture and gain actionable feedback at every point. You can utilize the input to eliminate bugs early on before they can proceed to the later stages.
Moreover, continuous testing involves the execution of exclusively designed testing suites according to each phase of the SDLC. The ongoing testing limits bottleneck situations most common during the QA and testing phase as affirmed by 63% of the DevOps practitioners. Selenium testing software can be used to generate the testing suites to facilitate the test phase.
Finally, continuous testing saves a valuable amount of time by merging different stages of the SDLC. Early risk detection and timely intervention to eliminate the bugs reduces both the time and effort and ensures high speed and frequent delivery.
Waterfall is a traditional, plan-driven approach to software development and testing. In Waterfall, all the phases are distinctive and consecutive, usually in a similar order, i.e., analyze, design, code, test and deploy. The waterfall model focuses on planning and scheduling all the anticipated activities before commencing the project. Therefore, it includes a lot of detailed documentation for a definite plan.
Thorough documentation is an asset in certain scenarios such as if the team members leave before project completion. A fully functioning design document can help familiarize the new members with the ongoing project. Moreover, customers expect a written contract from the companies, which states and commits to fulfill all the specific requirements. Document-driven waterfall system helps guarantee that all the specifications of the contract are complete.
The waterfall is most suitable for software projects that require completion of analysis before proceeding to the next stage. Such projects are complex making it necessary to include a detailed set of procedures and controls, which regulate the entire process.
Conclusively, the Waterfall model is linear and structured, where each phase is simple to understand with easily identifiable milestones. It is the best approach for software projects that require the establishment of specifications and design in the beginning.
The importance of combining Waterfall and continuous testing
Businesses seek to overcome the major challenges that often arise while developing software such as unrealistic expectations, insufficient funding, time constraints or impractical milestones.
These challenges are routinely materializing because clients’ require accelerated software delivery, along with top-notch quality.
To fulfill these demands, software-developing companies combine the waterfall and continuous testing technique to create a custom hybrid, depending on the needs, to procure optimum results. Moreover, various Agile projects require extensive documentation, so you can alter your Agile process to include Waterfall principles to generate the relevant documentation.
Adopting both methodologies enables the team to define the precise requirements thereby retaining the clarity of the Waterfall system while utilizing the adaptability of continuous testing to mitigate the risks.
Integration of continuous testing into the waterfall model
The hybrid of continuous testing and waterfall approaches the development stage in a user-centric way. The planning and designing of specifications, which are customary of Waterfall, are carried out in an agile manner by breaking them into smaller segments and prioritizing them in the sprint.
Moreover, unlike the Waterfall method, the next phase can begin as soon as possible, regardless of the completion of the previous stage. Thus, you can start development and continuous testing of some components while the planning phase is still in progress. The development phase adheres to continuous testing principles.
By injecting continuous testing into a Waterfall process, you can reduce the cost, increase the rate of delivery and improve the quality of the product.
The hybrid model is most suitable for projects that expect the deliverance of constantly changing requirements within a limited time. For example, when reusing software code, dealing with similar products or for frequent product releases.
However, customized software development methods have certain disadvantages too. The certainty of the fulfillment of fixed specifications, of the Waterfall model, is replaced by the flexibility of the Agile world. On the other hand, the entire model is a constraint with fixed deadlines in addition to cost projections and thorough risk assessment.
Finally, it is imperative that the teams understand the hybrid model clearly and familiarize themselves with the implementation methodology, to achieve the best possible results. Conversely, lack of understanding can lead to the failure of the project.
Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia