Software testing has undergone dramatic change. From the adoption of agile methodologies to DevOps delivery, the IT industry is looking for fast implementation cycles with high-quality results. While CTOs want to avoid problems that could surface after the release, the Project Management Office (PMO) is looking for ways to get things moving quickly. This becomes a challenge for testing teams: get development into production with minimal defects.
For business stakeholders, the priority is to identify and manage risk before testing begins. Risks like short timelines, inadequate resources, volatile requirements – or even an unexpected situation like COVID-19 – need a forward-thinking approach. Advanced planning and better mitigation strategies ensure all risks are addressed well in advance. To achieve delivery targets, it’s critical to select the right testing strategy.
Improve Quality with Testing Best Practices
There is no doubt that testing is a pivotal element in the software-delivery process. In fact, it already costs businesses a fortune: one study from Cambridge University found that software bugs cost the economy more than $300 billion per year. While there is no “golden rule” to follow, there are a few software testing best practices that could ease testing and help organizations deliver defect-free output within reasonable timeframes.
For instance, a context-driven testing approach could help testing teams prioritize testing order, make the testing process easier, and deter pushing testing to the last minute. The testing team could follow these best practices to improve the software testing process and increase the quality of software products:
- Planning Big Risks: When the test size is huge and exhaustive testing is not possible, testing teams need a strategy to determine the optimal amount of testing based on development team’s risk assessment. While it is almost impossible to test all functionalities and combinations of valid or invalid inputs, the important areas to test can be narrowed down based on business priority. This approach significantly reduces the necessary effort, can be planned later in the cycle, and may have less business impact.
- Fail Fast: (Early testing saves time and money.) Another important consideration for best results is testing as early as possible to catch defects. The cost involved in fixing defects detected early is much lower compared to fixing those found during later testing stages.
- Pareto Principle: (80% of all bugs can be found in 20% of program modules): During test execution, the 80-20 rule can help identify sweet spots where defects can be found. Concentrated efforts in finding the key issues or bugs can lead to big gains in the testing approach. In big programs, these issues can be a recurring phenomenon having an overall impact on multiple modules/reports etc.
Larger risks could sabotage long-term projects and therefore require immediate attention. A risk-based testing approach could help find and prevent defects early in the software delivery process. It allows quality improvement by moving high-risk tasks to the “left” so they can be planned early in the lifecycle.
Use Risk-Based Testing to Identify, Prioritize and Manage Testing Risks
One test principle that encompasses the above best practices is risk-based testing (RBT). RBT assesses the probability of risk based on the complexity, criticality, usage frequency, defect prone areas, and more. It prioritizes testing particular features, modules, or functions based on the impact and likelihood of failure. This helps plan for the biggest risks.
RBT can identify big risks well in advance; for example, identifying the failure risk of a particular functionality in production and its impact on the business by using a prioritization technique for test cases. RBT is a proven method of identifying crucial and important tests from both the customer and business perspective through a “Risk Analysis” procedure. RBT also helps plan high-priority items and catch failure early (fail fast).
Risk-based testing is beneficial for time and resource constraints. Risk identification can be conducted by getting all stakeholders to assess:
- Impact of failure – Business stakeholders can assign a risk rating on the impact the failure would have on their routine operations.
- High (Complete/high loss of service to the end customer which impacts normal functioning of business)
- Medium (Considerable impact but business can function with the impact)
- Low (Minor interruption but workaround is possible)
- Likelihood of failure – The technical team can assign a risk rating on the solution developed and its likelihood of failure.
- High (very likely to fail)
- Medium (likely to fail)
- Low (not expected to fail)