Agile Regression Testing: How to Do It Strategically

Agile Regression

Achieving faster ROI, continuous upgrades, and user upgrades—agile software practices constantly help the agile teams to improve the software that can introduce regressions. Regression testing is crucial for checking critical bugs, production, and verifying an essential part of the application. However, regression testing is known to have difficulty executing in an agile environment. In this article, you’ll learn what regression testing is in an agile environment and the 5 best practices for agile regression testing.

Regression Testing in Agile Development

To integrate regression testing in an agile environment, QA teams need to prioritize tests through a risk-based and collaborative approach. Let’s understand these approaches for regression testing in the agile process:

  • Risk-based approach: QA teams choose test cases affected by recent changes and rank them based on the risk level & run tests. High-risk test cases cover critical software functions that are visible to end-users or integral to overall functionality. Medium risk test cases cover exceptional situations like the negative test results and boundary value tests. Low-risk test cases include final regression tests before a major product release. 
  • Collaborative approach: QA teams cover every change introduced in a sprint by structuring the tests based on priority and allowing other team members to suggest corrections. 

Why is Regression Testing Important in Agile?

In agile approach, developers churn features faster in the iterative process with sprint cycles. The testing cycles must go hand in hand to deploy the new features after testing them. The testing needs to be done on all the latest and old features developed earlier. With every new build, regression testing ensures the new additions or improvements in the code without compromising the functionality of existing features. 

When writing test script code for a new feature, it becomes difficult for developers to find how the new code interacts with existing code. When the code detects any UI errors, it becomes difficult for agile teams to meet deadlines in each sprint. With a reliable regression test suite, developers can test the compatibility of a new feature with existing functionalities. 

Which team members should own Regression Testing?

When the QA team is embedded into the product development process, they can start planning their test coverage and writing the tests much earlier in the development lifecycle. When this happens, QA team members can own the test planning writing codes, and developers can own test interpretation and maintenance. 

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But ensure writing tests to cover the new user paths when the new features are live. Developers can run the existing regression suite when they check in a new branch. And when the tests fail, they can quickly determine either of the two things: actual bugs or re-engineering of the tests.

When to do Regression Testing in Agile?

Conduct regression testing in agile  when the original functionality displays a significant change with a single bug fix. Usually, it is executed after verifying changes or adding new functionality. This testing technique works in several conditions: 

  • When introducing new functionality to a product application
  • After fixing bugs in existing features ensuring the bug fixes did not introduce recent regressions
  • After submitting a significant software upgrade
  • Before pushing the code to production.

How much Test Coverage is Required?

There are times when agile teams find regression testing hard because they try to achieve 100% coverage of their application. Suppose the regression suite covers 60 and 80 percent of their user paths. In that case, the user is likely to catch the most critical bug fixes. Some teams use traffic data from Google Analytics to help prioritize which paths to test. 

5 Best Practices for Agile Regression Testing

  1. Determine the balance between automated and manual testing

Automating the regression test suite is the key to ensuring regression testing does not slow down the sprint cycles. However, know that not every regression test case is considered for automation. 

  • Suppose a feature is in the beta stage and developers make frequent changes between each iteration. In that case, the test cases are not suitable for automation.
  • Suppose the test case requires human interpretation (CAPTCHA), hand it to human testers. They will then write test scripts and verify the results. 

2. Choose an automated software to minimize breakdowns

When a test fails because of the errors present in the test and not the mistakes in the application, it leads to false failure. And the test suite will become outdated when the test is not fixed, resulting in increased losses.

With automated software, QA specialists can make modifications to every new feature. This means they need to focus on making incremental changes with every agile sprint. Additionally, testers need to do manual testing in the early stages—studying product flow, software logic, and UI changes. Regression test suites must be updated every time a new change is made in the software and reviewed after each sprint. 

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If the test case is dysfunctional, discard them and add relevant test cases to streamline the quality assurance.

3. Integrate regression testing in your release cycle

Agile regression testing has a primary benefit: to provide faster feedback about how the latest build impacts existing features. To get this feedback, integrate the regression suite into your release cycle.

4. Quarantine broken tests and discard the dysfunctional test cases

In the process of doing automated regression testing, you may notice your test suites contain longer than needed tests or cover dysfunctional features. If a test case covers an old feature that no longer holds importance in the business function, discard the obsolete test case to streamline the test cases.

There are chances of facing test failures with increased test cases. A team of developers and regression QA specialists cannot fix every broken test after each run. To eliminate this problem, quarantining broken tests is the solution.

5. Make test prioritization easy

When the application grows, developers and QA specialists must prioritize automated regression testing and perform selective re-testing. Selective re-testing is how you test select feature groups after each small change. 

Find out the tests that cover features you have prioritized to decide what to test. QA specialists and developers can easily categorize tests according to the features and run groups.


Briefly, the 5 best practices for agile regression testing are as follows:

  1. Determine the balance between automated and manual testing
  2. Choose an automated software to reduce breakdowns
  3. Integrate regression testing in your release cycle
  4. Quarantine broken tests and Discard dysfunctional tests
  5. Make test prioritization easy

Regression testing in agile is essential for product owners at the end of each sprint. Why? Because businesses demand great, qualitative softwares to deliver a flawless digital experience.With agile regression testing, developers and testers assure the final product meets customer expectations.