HomeTechHow Do You Handle Non-functional Testing In The Agile Test Pyramid?

How Do You Handle Non-functional Testing In The Agile Test Pyramid?

Non-functional testing is a type of software testing that ensures more about the quality of a software product than its features. Non-functional testing is mainly designed to test the system’s readiness per its parameters, which are not addressed by functional testing.

The agile test pyramid is a graphical automation strategy that splits software testing into three layers based on the return on investment (ROI). The test pyramid reduces the overall cost and efforts of software testing.

In this article, let us discuss types of non-functional testing, agile test pyramid levels, and how to handle non-functional testing in all the levels of the agile test pyramid while performing automation testing.

Non-functional Testing – Overview

Non-functional testing is mainly designed to cover the aspects that have yet to be covered by functional testing. Non-functional testing is as necessary as functional testing because it validates software product’s reliability, security, survivability, availability, efficiency, integrity, usability, flexibility, scalability, portability, reusability, and interportability.

Non-functional testing is essential to measure the performance of an application or software in an external environment, whereas functional testing validates the internal performance. Non-functional testing can also access the software installation, setup, and execution.

Non-functional testing collects the measurement and metrics for internal development and research. It reduces the cost of the application of software product production by providing in-depth insights into product behavior and technologies used.

The Objectives of Non-functional Testing

Here are some of the objectives or goals of Non-functional testing,

  • Improving software applications’ performance, usability, durability, efficiency, and portability.
  • Reduce the efforts on software testing and minimize the software’s cost of production.
  • Reducing the risk related to non-functional aspects of the application.
  • Collecting and analyzing the measurements and metrics to improve the product’s behavior.

Types of Non-functional Testing

Non-functional testing has been categorized into several categories, and some of the regular types are below.

  • Performance Testing: Performance testing of the non-functional testing method validates the performance of the software components. Performance testing also tests the system’s performance under the workload.
  • Portability Testing: Portability testing measures the application performance on different operating systems without experiencing any bugs or errors during the runtime.
  • Load Testing: Load Testing tests the loading capacity of the application. Load testing also measures the behavior of the system’s loading capacity at both low and high points.
  • Security Testing: Security testing is done from the attacker’s point of view, which is used to find vulnerabilities in software products.
  • Recovery Testing: Recovery testing checks the fail-safe mechanism by forcing the application to fail. It provides essential insights to improve system performance.

Agile Test Pyramid Overview

The agile testing pyramid is an automation testing strategy that helps developers and testers in software testing to produce high-quality products. The agile testing pyramid has three levels, namely.

  1. Unit testing
  2. Integration testing
  3. End to End-testing

Using the agile test pyramid, the developers and testers can achieve faster feedback, high test coverage, and the lowest maintenance cost for production.


1. Unit testing: Unit testing is done in the software development stage and is considered the base of the pyramid. It verifies each code unit, such as classes, modules, functions, or methods, to run the intended way.

2. Integration Testing: Integration testing is performed after unit tests. Integration testing checks the modules in groups after individual modules are integrated.

3. End-to-end Testing: The top of the pyramid is End-to-end testing. It verifies thoroughly how this application works from the user interface down to the backend.

Importance of Non-functional Testing in Agile

Non-functional testing is essential in agile because it delivers complete software that is not only functional but also stable, scalable, and safe at the same time. 

  • Non-functional testing parameters such as security, reliability, usability, efficiency, and availability support the agile principle of delivery value, customer collaboration, responding to change, and delivering working software.
  • Integrating the non-functional testing throughout the end-to-end of an agile project can be used to identify the performance of the software automation testing on each layer of the agile test pyramid. 
  • By conducting non-functional testing on agile projects, potential issues and security vulnerabilities of software can be identified, the quality and performance of the product can be improved, User experience and satisfaction with the product will be ensured,  
  • The rate of failure and defects will be reduced by eliminating the risk factors, and Confidence and trust among the stakeholders, customers, and developers will be improved.

Integrating Non-functional Testing in All 3 Layers of the Agile Test Pyramid

Depending on the scope and complexity of the Agile project, the non-functional testing can be applied to each layer of the Agile test pyramid. Let us see how non-functional testing aligns with all the layers of the test pyramids and its impact on each layer.

Unit Testing:

  • Unit testing is the base of the pyramid; Unit testing is conducted even at the early stage of the software development to ensure code is error-free from the start of the development process.
  •  Software testers usually do unit testing to ensure every unit of the code base is tested by automation testing. 
  • The performance, integrity, security, and reliability of the code components and modules are tested by involving Non-functional testing in the unit test.

Integration Testing: 

  • Integration testing is dependent upon unit testing. In Integrating testing, the units examined in the unit test are integrated into modules. 
  • The Integration test validates these modules and ensures the code is error-free. These tests are done after the development but before the release of the software. 
  • Conducting non-functional automation testing on agile integration testing can be utilized to assess the performance, security, and reliability of interfaces and integrations between different software module components.

End-to-end Testing: 

  • End-to-end or E2E testing is the peak of the agile test pyramid. It helps to test the entire software from start to end in a user scenario. 
  • E2E testing usually follows the automation testing process. It ensures the software products are working fine after the changes made during the testing. 
  • After completing the functional and system testing, E2E testing is mainly performed by the Quality Assurance (QA) team. 
  • Incorporating non-functional testing at the peak of the agile test pyramid can be used to analyze the performance, security, and usability of an entire product from the user’s perspective.

Best Practices For Non-functional Testing in Agile

To ensure an effective non-functional testing process in Agile, here are some best practices to be considered

  • Involves non-functional testing from the early stage of the agile project development, collaborating with stakeholders, programmers, designers, and testers to understand non-functional requirements and design the agile system with Non-functional requirements in mind.
  • Non-functional in agile requires clear and measurable objectives and scope. They are establishing a specific goal related to performance, usability, reliability, and other Non-functional aspects to guide the automation testing efforts.
  • Create an automated testing environment by utilizing the tools and frameworks for automation testing to accelerate the non-functional testing in agile.
  • Implement monitoring and performance metrics in agile non-functional testing to monitor the automation testing process and capture the performance metrics such as speed of execution, the load time of software product, response time, system behavior, and error rates during the testing.
  • Prioritize non-functional test cases in agile-based upon the business implant and risk analysis. Focus on the scenarios that can cause security vulnerabilities, performance degradation, and usability problems.
  • Maintain a practice of continuous improvement on non-functional testing in agile by understanding the automation testing experiences and documenting the feedback for future iterations.
  • Many cloud-based testing tools are built for DevOps and Agile teams. They serve as a unified platform for running the above types of testing parallelly on browsers and mobile devices without any installation or set-up. These tools are also one way to increase cloud application performance. One such tool is LambdaTest. LambdaTest is an AI-powered test execution and orchestration platform that empowers developers and testers to perform automation testing seamlessly on over 3000+ real browsers and operating system combinations.

The practices mentioned above are only part of the existing practices to ensure the efficient non-functional testing process in Agile. By using these practices, organizations, developers, and software testers can implement effective non-functional testing that ensures optimized performance,  reliability, usability, security, portability, and accountability in agile projects.

Limitations and Challenges of Non-functional Testing in Agile

Non-functional testing in Agile projects is significant but has some common limitations and challenges. 

  • One such challenge is defining clear and measurable non-functional requirements that may be complicated. Ineffective testing strategies can emerge from unclear or uncertain requirements. 
  • Additionally, incorporating non-functional testing from the early stages requires collaboration and understanding among stakeholders, which can be challenging.
  • Another limitation of non-function testing is the need for specialized tools and frameworks for efficient automation testing. 
  • Choosing the right tools and ensuring their compatibility with agile practices can reduce the difficulties. 
  • Balancing the focus on non-functional aspects, such as performance and security, alongside constantly changing functional requirements in agile projects is also a common challenge.

These challenges involve continuous communication, adaptation, and the use of appropriate technologies to streamline non-functional testing processes within the agile framework.

Benefits of Non-functional Testing in Agile

Non-functional testing in agile projects contributes to software development and automation testing. In so doing, non-functional testing allows the building stable, scalable, and secure software to improve product reliability. 

  • Performance testing is helpful as it enables teams to identify and correct potential bottlenecks, ensuring that software works efficiently under different workloads.
  • The non-functional testing improves user experience by detecting and eliminating problems associated with responsiveness of interfaces, general usability, and overall operation efficiency within the software. 
  • Security testing is also essential in protecting the software from vulnerabilities, as it aligns with agile concepts of delivering secure and valuable products.
  • Incorporating non-functional testing throughout the agile development lifecycle enhances product quality and performance, risk reduction, and stakeholder confidence in the delivered software.


In conclusion, non-functional testing is a critical component of agile development, ensuring that software meets functional requirements and excels in stability, security, and performance. The agile test pyramid provides a structured approach to implementing non-functional testing at different layers of development, from unit testing to end-to-end testing.

Despite challenges such as requirement definition complexities and tool selection, best practices such as early involvement, goal establishment, and continuous improvement can help overcome obstacles. The benefits of non-functional testing, including improved reliability, scalability, and user satisfaction, underscore its significance in delivering high-quality agile software. Organizations utilizing these non-functional testing practices stand to gain a competitive edge in producing effective and efficient software products.

Related Posts


Stay Connected



Recent Stories

Trending Posts