In any industry, quality is paramount. This holds for the software industry too. As global shipments of software rival or even exceed the manufacturing sector by leaps and bounds, Quality Assurance in software is as relevant as it is in manufacturing.
According to Wikipedia, Software quality assurance, also known as testing, quality assurance testing or QA “is defined as an investigation that is conducted to provide key stakeholders in an organization with specific inputs about the quality of the software product or service that is being developed.”.
Software testing can also provide an independent view of the quality of your software to allow the stakeholders to understand the risks of deploying it. Software Quality Assurance ensures that the product produced is high-quality and conforms to industry norms. Every entrepreneur and business leader needs to know what is quality assurance to ensure business success.
The Importance of quality assurance for software development
In the software industry, Quality Assurance is more commonly known as Software Quality Testing or Software Testing. Software testing is the process of ensuring that your software delivered to the customer is of acceptable quality and performs as desired. Softwares that are extensively tested are more stable than untested software and showcase reliability, predictability, and use limited resources.
Well-tested software is less prone to instability, data theft, and data loss. For enterprises, software quality is critical as many enterprise workflows are completely dependent on the software that they use. A lack of software quality due to improper testing can also result in the loss of life and property as showcased by the recent example of a software glitch in the Boeing 737 Max aircraft pilot guidance system, which caused a plane crash and the irreplaceable loss of hundreds of lives.
Why and when should you integrate testing into your development cycle?
To answer the question Why? in one line: To ensure a world-class experience for the end-user. One of the most important questions for any organization is not why, but when. Knowing when to start testing your software is extremely important to ensure quality and reliability when your software is finally handed over to the end-user.
In the traditional or waterfall method of software development, testing is one of the finalization tasks. These tasks are performed once development is complete—and can substantially delay your delivery timelines if a major issue is encountered at the end of the development cycle. You can avoid this problem by testing your software iteratively as it is developed, which is the main reason for the popularity of modern software development models such as Agile or V model testing.
Modern iterative software development models such as Agile include software testing and quality assurance after every development sprint or cycle, making it an inherent part of the development process. Using Agile methodology in testing reduces the chances of a major defect creeping into your final product that is delivered to the end-user, enhancing the reliability, efficiency, and quality of your product as a whole.
How to test?
A common question that people ask is about the quality assurance testing types. The answer, however, is not that simple. Before you learn more about quality assurance and types of testing, you must answer an important question: How to create a testing strategy?
Creating an effective software testing strategy is as important as testing itself. Before knowing the various types of software quality assurance testing, it is important to know how to build an effective software testing strategy to ensure coverage and quality at all times.
Building and choosing an effective software testing strategy
According to Wikipedia, a test strategy is an outline that describes the testing approach of the software development cycle. It is created to inform project managers, testers, and developers about some key issues of the testing process.
This includes the testing objective, methods of testing new functions, total time and resources required for the project, and the testing environment. Similar to other aspects of a business, software testing also involves following a set strategy to ensure that business and product goals are met.
Factors that a business must consider while building a software testing strategy:
- Risk management
As risk is considered paramount during testing, therefore it is important to consider the various risks (business risks, technical risks, and external risks) and their levels (marginal, moderate, medium, and critical). For a mature app such as Cameo, Spotify, or Instagram, regression is a critical risk that must be considered. For a new app, a risk-based strategy can expose many problems at the outset.
- Stakeholder objectives
For a testing strategy to succeed, it must meet the needs of the stakeholders. If, for example, uncovering the maximum number of bugs before release is important, a dynamic (also known as validation) testing strategy would make more sense compared to a static (also known as verification) testing strategy.
- Team Capability
No two individuals are equal. Taking that into consideration for test teams is a wise thing to do. A standard compliance strategy is a good option when your testing team has varied skill levels.
- Product Requirements
Most contract-based software has standardized requirements that leave little or no margin for change. For such situations, an analytical software testing methodology that uses the requirement specification as a yardstick is apt.
- Business Requirements
When a legacy system is being refactored or entirely re-engineered, business requirements call for using a model-based strategy that can leverage existing knowledge to create an effective test strategy.
Sometimes compliance is mandatory for building software. In such cases, methodical strategies can be used to ensure that compliance needs are considered and met. There is no hard-set rule towards choosing a software testing strategy, however, the strategy chosen should be according to the needs and the requirements of the project and the organization as a whole. A robust software testing strategy ensures that testing is performed at all technology stack levels to validate a system that works well as a whole.
Some points to consider for testing strategies include:
- Fix time
If testing leaves no time for fixing issues, it defeats the whole purpose of testing your software. Test plans should leave time for both fixing and re-testing to ensure that defects can be addressed in the same release that they are tested in. Leaving testing for the last moment will cause unnecessary delays or force the QA team to release a buggy build in the market.
Allowing teams to take ownership of the defects uncovered during the testing process helps developers to understand the reason for the testing process. This also allows testers to take ownership and drive the product to success rather than passing the buck and trying to blame issues on the other team.
- Unscripted tests
Scripted tests limit the number of bugs that can be uncovered. Any tests that can easily be scripted must be automated. Manual testing should be limited to testing the system using creativity and exploration to try and uncover as many bugs as possible.
- Documentation and reportage
A well-documented software requirements specification allows testers to test better. A well-documented bug report can do the same for developers by ensuring that less time is spent in communicating back and forth just to gather basic information about the bug.
- Test frequency
Testing software as frequently as possible ensures that both development and test teams stay motivated, and end up with a much smaller kitty of bugs to address at the last moment. This also helps in controlling the product backlog.
Choosing an effective software testing methodology
Once an effective strategy is determined, we then need to categorize the approach or the methodology used to test software. Software testing can either be performed manually or automatically.
- Manual testing is performed by software test engineers and professionals. They test and verify various aspects of your software according to test cases and test plans. Many software requires to be tested by test engineers for various changes for which automation test scripts cannot be created easily. Typical examples are colour rendition, user experience, and design. Manual testing is relatively low-cost compared to automation testing but is labour intensive and subject to human error and bias.
- Automation testing is the creation of automated test scripts that allow your software to be tested without human intervention. Repetitive, labour-intensive tasks like data input validation and unit tests can easily be automated by test engineers to ensure that these are run every time a new change is made to the code without requiring the assignment of an engineer to test that change. Automation testing requires specialized teams that are adept at creating test scripts according to the automation testing suites used by their organization. Their requirement of specialized software and teams makes automation testing costlier to implement. Automation testing typically pays off in the long run as automation scripts written by specialist testers typically manage to uncover a much higher number of bugs compared to manual testing.
Software Testing Techniques
Software testing techniques can be divided into three broad categories:
- Black Box Testing – Black box testing is testing your software by emulating the end user. This testing technique assumes that the tester is the end-user of the application and tests the interface without being concerned about the internals of the software that is being tested.
- Grey Box Testing: Grey box involves performing black box testing while having access to the source code of the software to ensure that informed tests can be run to determine boundary values and errors. Grey box testing implements intelligent test scenarios that are based on access to both source code and the user interface.
- White Box Testing – White box testing is testing the software at the structural level, verifying the internal workings of the software and the integration of various components of the software. White box testing can be applied at the unit, integration and the system levels of software testing processes.
White box testing techniques include the following types of QA testing :
- API testing: Testing of the software by utilizing public and private programming interfaces.
- Code Coverage: Testing the software to ensure that all statements in the program are run at least once.
- Fault Injection: Introducing faults intentionally to test the robustness of the software
- Mutation testing: Altering the source code to find and remove redundancies. This can include testing values (constants), decisions (relational and logical operators) and statements (editing code to check if code has been copied).
- Dynamic testing: Executing the source code of the software to ensure that the response to variables is consistent.
- Static Testing: Testing the source code and its accompanying documentation without executing the code.
Types of testing
Software testing can be divided into many types. Each type has its own application, requirements, advantages, and disadvantages. Software testing is primarily divided into two different types: functional and non-functional testing
Functional tests are run to ensure that the software under test conforms to the software requirement specification. Functional testing types include:
Unit testing involves testing independent modules of the software. This test is usually run by programmers to test compiled code compiled.
Testing all modules of the software to ensure that they work in conjunction with each other. This testing technique is especially important in distributed systems.
Testing the entire system as per the software requirements.
Sanity testing checks if the planned functionality is working as expected
Smoke testing checks if the software is ready to be tested thoroughly.
Interface Testing determines if two different components of the software can communicate with each other.
Regression testing is testing the application as a whole to test a new change in functionality.
Acceptance or User Acceptance testing checks the software against its requirements to test if the end to end flow is as per the needs of the user.
Non-functional testing tests the non-functional requirements of the software to determine its performance, usability, and reliability. Non-functional testing types include:
Performance testing checks if the software performs up to set standards and performance requirements.
Load testing checks the behaviour of the software under specific load conditions that might cause performance degradation.
Stress testing involves testing the application to figure out the breaking point of the application.
Volume Testing tests the performance and processing speed of the system with an unusually large data set or high volume.
Security testing involves testing the data in the software against intrusions, malware attacks and exposing any security loopholes.
Testing software under diverse system configurations. This is especially important during mobile app testing.
Testing the installation/uninstallation process of the software.
Recovery Testing involves pushing the system to crash and testing its capability to recover from such situations.
Reliability testing involves testing whether the software can perform a failure-free operation for a specified period in a specified environment.
Usability testing checks if the software can easily be understood by the end-user.
Compliance testing involves testing the software according to set norms to check if the software adheres to those norms.
Localization testing involves testing the localization of the software. This includes truncations and language-specific rules amongst other paradigms.
Software testing levels
Levels in software testing are the different stages of the software development life cycle where testing can be conducted and implemented. Bringing your software to test early on in the software development lifecycle can ensure that your product performs better as it will be well tested. Software testing levels include:
Unit testing involves testing the smallest testable portion of software which can be compiled, linked, loaded and tested individually. This test is performed by developers to ensure that each part of the software performs as intended.
Integration testing involves testing the flow of data from one component of the system to another. This test checks if various modules of the software perform as intended when tested as a group. This test level also validates if the software is ready for system testing.
This testing level involves testing the entire system to see if it behaves as intended and meets the requirement specification.
Acceptance testing involves testing the software against the delivery specification of the system to ensure that everything works as intended for the end-user.
Ensuring high quality is the first step that you will take towards building a successful mobile app. Although the terms and procedures listed in this article may seem daunting for a first-timer, with a world-class development partner such as Volumetree, you can concentrate on bringing your idea to the masses – we will take care of the nitty-gritty. Our experienced testing and development teams work in tandem to get more done and ensure product quality, reliability, and an unparalleled user experience for your prospective customers. Together, let us showcase your idea to the world!