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Real Agile Approach to Performance Testing

Apr 16, 2019
5 min read

Performance testing helps to determine if a system is reliable and comfortable to use. In this post, we’ll explain the main principles of Agile performance testing as well as its benefits.

Before launching an app or a website, it’s crucial for a developer and admin to know how the entire system behaves under stressful situations. Testing out the page speed, improving scalability, ensuring that server capacity is sufficient for handling high traffic levels, as well as knowing if the product is stable during long user sessions.

Skipping this crucial step, companies leave dozens of user experience issues unaddressed. As a result, developers need to do bug fixing later, when the amount of pressure, money and time spent will be exponentially higher.

While performance testing is important, it can only be 100% beneficial when done right. The lack of flexibility, internal communication, and precision during reporting sessions can all sabotage the workflow. That’s why the practice of Agile performance testing services is often deployed in companies and startups. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some benefits such a framework offers and examine it step-by-step.

Things to Consider Before Starting Agile Performance Testing

The idea behind Agile testing is to start the process at the beginning of the testing sprint, not at the end as it’s traditionally been done. This way, a developer is capable of pinpointing and solving issues early on, without waiting for technical debt to pile up.

Before starting performance testing in Agile, team members break the process down in stages as follows:

  • Code-level performance testing. A company that is implementing Agile testing practices starts performance testing in parallel with writing the code itself. A developer can conduct unit tests along with load tests to make sure the system fragment works as expected.

    The performance of code units can be assessed during the development stage and saves a fair share of time and effort in the long run. A majority of performance testing tools (Gatling, for instance) allow developers to conduct unit and load testing on the code level simultaneously. Code-level performance testing allows a developer to examine the code on the micro-level and speeds up the sprint in its later stages.
  • Sprint-level performance testing. As soon as new features are developed, they are examined in a performance testing sprint. Mainly, the testing is aimed to measure response time to make sure each function delivers the outcome within an expected timeframe. This avoids possible bottlenecks later on in development and facilitates the end-to-end performance testing process.
  • Performance testing for the entire system. This stage includes functional and performance regression testing. Essentially, it’s aimed to ensure the entire system works accordingly with its purpose as well as to pinpoint possible infrastructure and hardware issues that should be fixed before the product release.

As soon as all of the three points are hit, a developer can consider Agile testing to be successful. As opposed to regular test practices, such an approach is way more efficient when it comes to bug flagging and reporting at the early stages of development.

Benefits of Agile Performance Testing

Over the last decade, Agile methodology in performance testing has proven to be quite efficient among startups. It is crucial when it comes to developing a reliable product and reduce the number of follow-up questions from users as well as increase the positive user experience.

Agile performance testing approach provides more than a few benefits at the development stage as well. Let’s examine the main ones.

Increasing team efficiency

Thanks to detailed planning and the huge amount of communication that Agile testing presumes, the entire development process becomes faster and more efficient. Thanks to frequent testing cycles, everybody on the team is updated on the progress even when it comes to smaller issues and code changes.

With performance testing in Agile development strategy, the sizes of testing updates are easily manageable and the workflow is smoother.

Capacity management

One of the benefits of Agile performance testing is that it helps to determine if the current hardware used for development, as well as the software involved, is powerful enough. As being able to plan and implement capacity management requires a strong knowledge of the system itself, performance testing comes in handy. Procedures like load testing, stress testing or soak testing allow developers to examine the data load that a product is capable of handling.

Thanks to Agile development performance testing, a working team would also be capable of finding out a number of people that can use the platform simultaneously, prevent and detect possible memory leaks, and deal with phantom issues.

Improves brand image

The importance of performance testing is crucial when it comes to building a strong brand. Modern users have a low tolerance for bugs and performance issues. In order to have low retention rates and lower the number of support tickets, email questions and phone calls, a developer should conduct thorough performance testing.

Moreover, the low reliability of an end product can lead not just to a reputational hit but to governmental fees. One of the goals of performance testing is to eliminate the possibility of data leaks and security breaches. The fines for these cases can reach millions of dollars – so it’s better to not neglect performance testing.

Improves the speed of testing in different scenarios

Emulating various user scenarios and testing the reaction of the system to such situations is the backbone of performance testing. By predicting all the possible use cases for the system, a development team makes customer support way easier than it would’ve been otherwise.

It’s obviously hard to predict every situation possible to a tee; however, thanks to performance testing, the number of unknown cases is narrowed down and documented. All the issues encountered while examining a particular scenario are fixed beforehand so that a user will not be irritated while visiting an app or a website.

Reduces the cost of change

As we’ve already covered, the performance testing in Agile scrum methodology preaches full-cycle testing as one of its main pillars. Such an approach is adopted primarily because running performance testing sprints straight from the start of coding pays off in the long run, thus reducing the cost of making changes.

This point was proven by Kent Beck’s curve: reducing the feedback circle as well as being able to quickly determine if the developed feature fits the scope of the app reduces the cost of change exponentially.

Agile Performance Testing at PFLB

If you’re about to release a mobile application, software or a website and would love for someone to handle performance testing, consider reaching out to PFLB. As a team of experienced testers and developers, we have years of experience of planning and implementing end-to-end testing.

Here are the types of performance testing in Agile methodology we can handle for you at PFLB.

  • Load testing
    Our developers will emulate the actions of thousands of users simultaneously to check how a system is capable of managing high traffic loads. At PFLB, we use a REST-based proprietary framework for load testing.
  • Database volume testing
    This type of test is created to identify any database issue caused by a high volume of stored data. Our team will discover performance problems in the system operability and offer guidelines that will help developers fix these issues. Database testing includes a database table scheme analysis, collecting target values, developing data generation systems and filling the database to reach the values set during prior research.
  • Stress testing
    During this stage, our specialists will test the product at the extremes of its power in a stressful environment. By going beyond the limits of normal operation, we will determine the reliability of the system. Stress testing is recommended for websites that are likely to experience traffic surges – a support team should be ready to manage a user load that exceeds the regular traffic. After a system has crashed or slowed down as a result of traffic overload, a team of testers measures the amount of time it takes to restore regular performance.
  • Regression performance testing
    Even if the product has been tested after initial development, any source code change can result in new bugs. At times, developers are challenged to predict and pinpoint future bugs and performance defects (increased response time after a software update, for example) – that’s why they run a regression testing sprint. Our team runs continuous automated testing on any build of our client’s products. We use JMeter, PFLB Platform, Jenkins, Docker, K8 and many other available tools to start tests automatically right after a CI/CD delivery.


Performance testing is essential when creating a reliable product. For one, it allows developers to run the system back-to-back before showing it out in the open. By conducting performance testing early on, a team is capable of reducing the cost of change tremendously.

Agile performance testing promotes a full-cycle testing process, working in small (Agile) teams that constantly communicate and report to one another with quick reactions to any system change.
At PFLB, we have tested hundreds of projects using the Agile performance testing framework. The Agile performance testing strategies have proven to be quite useful for startups and big companies alike. If you’d like us to test your project, contact us or take a look at our services.

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