Agile testing vs traditional testing: what to choose?
Automation Best practices Agile
9 mins read
April 18, 2024

Agile testing vs traditional testing: what to choose?

Evolution is a process that changes everything in our world for the better and adapts to constantly changing conditions, including development and quality assurance.

Olga Ryan
Robert Weingartz

Evolution is a process that changes everything in our world for the better and adapts to constantly changing conditions, including development and quality assurance. Evolution has not bypassed traditional testing as well. However, not everyone is always in a hurry to switch from traditional QA to contemporary approaches, for example, agile in software testing. Why not everyone is in a hurry to do this and what to choose we will analyse in this article. Let’s see what the differences between agile and traditional testing are.

Traditional testing definition

The traditional testing method is probably the most common quality assurance method. Its main difference from more modern methods lies in the incremental execution. Testers perform traditional tests from top to bottom. Having completed one phase, they move on to the next and so on until all defects are eliminated. It is released only after the software has been validated for bugs’ absence. This way of traditional testing can be described as the “step-by-step detection of bugs in ready-made software”.

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What is agile testing?

The agile testing method doesn’t isolate software development and testing from each other. Opposite to this, it encourages them to be executed simultaneously. The entire team is collaboratively finding bugs while validating the developing product. Only when both parts of the team agree that the result is satisfactory, they are ready to deploy it.


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Key differences between traditional & modern testing principles

These are the crucial factors that stand out when you put Agile vs traditional approaches:

  1. Timeline: Traditional software testing follows a linear, sequential approach, where testing comes at the end of development. Testers usually execute pre-defined test cases and verify if the software meets the specified requirements. Meanwhile, Agile testing adopts an iterative approach, integrating testing throughout development. Testers and developers collaborate closely and continuously provide feedback to each update. Agile testing focuses on delivering a working product in small increments, which is one of the advantages of Agile testing
  2. Documentation: In traditional software testing, comprehensive documentation is a crucial aspect. Test plans, test cases, test scripts, and detailed test reports are common artefacts produced. This documentation ensures clear guidelines for testing activities and provides traceability. But Agile testing emphasises minimal documentation, focusing more on communication among team members. Agile teams rely on face-to-face interactions, daily stand-up meetings, and user stories to effectively capture and share testing requirements and progress. 
  3. Feedback frequency: Agile testing places a strong emphasis on frequent feedback loops. Testing activities occur continuously throughout development, including rapid identification and defect resolution. Following a continuous improvement approach, Agile teams regularly receive feedback from stakeholders, customers, and end-users. Traditional testing, being more sequential, provides feedback primarily at the end of the development phase, which might lead to delayed bug detection and resolution. 
  4. Team structure: Traditional testing often involves separate testing teams responsible for testing the software after development. In this case, testers are not deeply involved in the initial stages of development. In contrast, Agile testing promotes cross-functional teams that include testers from the beginning of the project. They collaborate closely with developers, product owners, and other stakeholders for better communication and shared ownership of quality.
  5. Project scope: Traditional testing generally suits well-defined projects with fixed requirements. Testing begins after the development is complete and the product is stable. Agile testing, on the other hand, thrives in dynamic and evolving project scopes. As Agile projects embrace change, the testing process continuously adapts to accommodate new requirements and evolving business needs.

Challenges while transitioning from traditional to modern testing practices

Change is always uncomfortable and takes time, especially when you change approaches in the workplace. There will be some challenges when you make a shift from traditional to modern testing practices, including the following:

  1. Cultural shift: Transitioning from traditional to Agile testing requires a significant cultural shift within the company. Some team members might be used to the Waterfall methodology and resistant to the Agile approach. Building a culture of collaboration, flexibility, and open communication in the first steps of the transition will be essential for success. 
  2. Resource allocation: Agile testing demands changes in resource allocation. In the traditional model, testing occurs at the end of development, while Agile testing requires QA resources to be available throughout the development process. Companies must effectively allocate testers’ time and expertise to support Agile teams. 
  3. Skillset enhancement: Agile testing demands a different skill set from traditional testing. Testers need to be proficient in test automation, exploratory testing, and working in cross-functional teams. Training and upskilling may be necessary to equip testers with the required competencies.
  4. Integration with existing processes: Organisations with established traditional testing processes might face challenges integrating Agile testing practices seamlessly. Evolving into Agile can be complex and require a gradual transition to avoid disruptions.


“Agile testing vs traditional testing” is just a general idea of what you can use for development. A comparison of agile and traditional testing is not something that you should take too seriously. As you can see there are definitely more advantages to agile testing. However, it doesn’t mean that this exact method will meet your needs and demands. For example, in government software testing it is more preferable to use a traditional approach as it has better documentation than an agile method.

It is fundamental to understand what sources you have before you map your journey to a better product. The choice of either of the two approaches should be based only on the goals that your project is trying to accomplish. Because the final result is the same — high-quality bug-free software.

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What are the principles of agile testing?

The principles of Agile testing revolve around early and continuous testing, adapting to change, collaborative communication, feedback-driven development, prioritising customer value, test automation, and continuous improvement. These principles guide Agile testing teams in delivering high-quality software efficiently and responsively.

What are the benefits of traditional QA testing?

Traditional QA testing offers structured testing methodologies, ensuring stability, reliability, and compliance with standards. By systematically verifying requirements and mitigating risks, it delivers high-quality software with thorough documentation and long-term maintainability.

What is the difference between traditional and agile testing?

Traditional testing is a single-phase effort of moving through the software’s issues one module at a time after the development is completed. Agile testing runs in parallel with development and uses a combination of planning and prioritisation techniques for delivering the least problematic software possible. 

What is agile testing?

Agile testing is iterative testing done to match the Agile approach to software delivery. It means that a solution is updated (and thus tested) at the end of each sprint that lasts 1 to 4 weeks. 

What is traditional testing?

Traditional testing is a step-by-step approach to testing where QA specialists work incrementally. It happens at the end of the product’s development and thus fits the old-fashioned Waterfall software development methodology better.

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