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When to start testing application performance in an Agile development environment

There are multiple ways performance testing can be handled on an Agile team. An expert describes the benefits of various approaches.

In an agile environment, when does performance testing get done?
There are a couple of different ways I've dealt with performance testing on agile projects. Most of the time, we create specific stories for performance testing. That is, create a story for the product backlog that requires the team to answer a specific question, or demonstrate during sprint review (or whatever structure you're using for review with the client) that the application performs under certain conditions. This makes the performance testing story the entire team's objective while that story is being worked, and turns out to be a good way to get your tests prioritized along with your features.

Another way to manage performance testing it to track it for specific changes that raise performance concerns....

If a specific story creates a performance concern, require performance testing for that story. In the past, I've asked several times for performance test results as part of my acceptance criteria for certain stories.

Finally, if the team is doing enhancements to an existing system, and the performance concern is really focused on a concern around regression, then I'll often just have the testing team run comparisons to our baselines on major releases. For that, you'll need a set of scripts and baseline numbers you use from release to release. They only need to focus on the big things, and should be fairly easy to keep up to date, interpret and manage.

This was last published in July 2010

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