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Agile is a software development approach that seeks to make engineering teams more productive through adaptive, incremental development practices. Focused on connecting the developer to the customer, Agile is a key part of building quality products that support high-value user relationships. 

Though Agile emphasizes developer practices, quality engineering and software testing are closely connected to Agile goals, such as faster, more iterative development that can rapidly adapt to changing customer needs. Mabl’s 2022 Testing in DevOps Report surveyed nearly 600 development professionals across engineering, QA, and leadership to identify the testing tactics and automation implementations that are enabling real-world teams to achieve Agile success. 

Automated Pipelines Lead to Agile Outcomes 

The endgame of Agile is incremental development cycles that center around user needs. The Testing in DevOps Report found that although testing and automation are often considered outside the remit of Agile, implementing automated pipelines and automated testing support Agile goals. 

Automation Enables Faster Development CyclesBar chart showing the percentage of companies who accelerated deployment frequency by pipeline automation

“Fail-fast” is a core Agile approach, but how fast a team can accelerate deployments appears to be closely tied to pipeline automation. This is likely due to how automated workflows, when designed and implemented effectively, can make it easier to maintain consistent processes, even when teams are moving quickly. Bar chart showing change in deployment speed by test coverage
This rings particularly true when testing is improved with test automation. Though testing is generally outside the scope of Agile since it’s managed by a mix of QA, developers, and product managers, improving test coverage impacts results. As seen in the chart above, teams with good or excellent test coverage were three times more likely to accelerate deployment frequency by 50-100%, an impressive rate of change. 

Testing Improves the Process of Change 

Testing and test automation have a significant impact on Agile adoption because it reinforces incremental change and connects code to the customer experience. The Testing in DevOps Report found that when test coverage improves, teams are more likely to identify bugs earlier in development when they’re easier to fix and less likely to affect users. Bar chart showing test coverage by the stage of development when bugs are discovered

Discovering defects earlier in development with automated testing creates a fast, repeatable feedback loop, a key goal of Agile development. Test results, particularly from tests designed to validate the full user experience, enable developers to quantify customer needs earlier in the sprint cycle. Earlier discovery, the Report found, also translates to faster resolution. Bar chart showing test coverage by time needed to resolve bugs

Teams with good or excellent test coverage have much better odds of resolving bugs within a single business day compared to teams with minimal test coverage. The ability to quickly resolve issues enables developers to quickly evolve products in response to unsatisfactory user experiences. Faster, more automated testing enables developers to tie the user experience into the earliest stages of development and act on that feedback without slowing down. 

Advances in test automation are poised to expand how developers can build the user perspective into faster development cycles. Non-functional automated tests like accessibility testing and performance  ranked high in respondents’ priorities for adoption in 2023. 

Automation Improves the User Experience

Rapid feedback cycles enabled by pipeline automation, particularly test automation, have a positive impact on the customer experience. The data highlights how consumers see the impact of pipeline automation and test automation. Bar chart showing pipeline automation and customer satisfaction

Those with low pipeline automation have roughly 50/50 chances of building positive customer experiences. But among those with all or most workflows automated, 3-in-4 respondents shared that their customers are happy with the user experience. 

Automation Elevates the User Experience

Agile emphasizes people over tools. But automation, especially test automation, can be a powerful way to reliably integrate the user experience into the early stages of development. Expansive test coverage that accurately reflects the customer journey provides rapid feedback for developers as they evolve the product in response to user needs. Mabl’s 2022 Testing in DevOps Report showcases how teams successfully adopting Agile are embracing automation in pursuit of faster, more customer-centric development cycles. 

Download the full 2022 Testing in DevOps Report to discover how real-world teams are embracing DevOps, improving the customer experience, and becoming Agile.