Boosting Your Software Testing Life Cycle
The software testing life cycle is undergoing a significant shift. And to keep pace, team leaders and executives need to “reboot” the existing specialists and hire new talent. The World Quality Report also stated that testing and QA is no longer a closing phase, but a process that emerges in parallel with development. 2020 is the year that we’re going to see the introduction of a more intelligent, self-sustaining, flexible ecosystem that stays in-line with changes.
То have a better understanding of the testing itself, let us dig deeper into the basics of the process and identify its key milestones. By definition, the software testing life cycle (STLC) is a sequence of different activities conducted during the software testing process. Typically, STLC is characterized as follows:
- STLC is an essential part of the software development life cycle (SDLC), but STLC refers only to the testing phases.
- STLC begins as soon as requirements are defined and stakeholders share a software requirement document.
- STLC requires a step-by-step process to ensure high-quality software.
While the software product or the application is under development, the test team analyzes and describes the scope of testing, entry and exit criteria, and the test cases. It helps to save the test cycle time and dramatically enhances product quality.
Once the development phase is over, the test team is ready with test cases and starts the execution to find bugs as early as possible.
Key Phases of STLC
Below, you can see the main stages of the software testing life cycle. Of course, in an ideal world, you would not be able to enter the next stage until the exit criteria for the previous stage are met. But from a practical perspective, that’s not always possible. So, for this guide, we focus on the critical activities for the different stages in STLC. Let’s look at them in detail.
- The requirement analysis implies that the testers try to evaluate the requirements of testing and define which of the given requirements they can test. If they do not understand the testing requirements, they can refer to stakeholders (client, system architect, or business analyst). Requirements can be either functional (features of software) or non-functional (speed, reliability, availability).
- The test planning — this phase of the QA lifecycle delivers documents, such as the effort estimation and test plan. The main goal of this procedure is to estimate the effort and budget of your project. Project managers can provide the test plan for different types of software testing, decide which testing tool is optimal, and evaluate effort estimation. Meantime, they need to assign responsibilities and roles to their team.
- The test case development — here is the time to create test cases. The test team prepares test cases, test scripts (if automation), and test data. After the test cases are ready, peer members or team lead do the review. Also, the QA team creates the requirement traceability matrix (RTM), a document that maps and traces user requirements using test cases.
- The testing environment setup is software and hardware tools needed for the test teams to execute test cases. In other words, this environment provides test execution with hardware, software, and network configurations.
- The test execution — the testers carry out the testing based on the test plans and prepared test cases. Bugs are reported back to the development team for fixing, and retesting is conducted.
- The test closure — testers meet, discuss and analyze testing artifacts to identify strategies to implement in the future, based on the current test cycle. The idea is to remove the process obstacles for future STLC and share best practices for any similar upcoming projects.
5 Ways to Improve Software Testing
Now that we know all fundamental stages of the cycle, let’s get hands-on with ways to improve the entire flow to deliver bug-free solutions. When we look at the survey of senior IT-management executives, we will see what challenges the testing crew faces when dealing with mobile and multi-channel applications. In 2018, for instance, 52% of respondents distinguished a lack of time as the greatest bottleneck.
To improve the situation, organizations must reconsider certain approaches in software testing, which will help to enhance it. Here is a short roundup of the best ways to boost the software testing process.
1. Plan the Testing and QA Processes
Testing should be well-planned, defined, and documented. Proper documentation is your instrument to build productive communication within the software team. So, effective planning involves the preparation of quality and test plans for a project.
Get quality management plan ready
A quality management plan describes an acceptable level of product quality and explains how to achieve it. This document helps you to schedule all the tasks needed to ensure the project meets the consumer’s needs. The main purpose of this plan is to assist project managers, so it should contain the software’s quality requirements and define how they should be assessed (the number of test cases created and executed or the ratio of quality bugs over “invalid” bugs).
A test strategy is another high-level document that originates from the business requirements specification document. Typically, a project manager or a business analyst creates a test strategy to determine software testing techniques (black box, white box, grey box, technical review, walkthroughs, etc.) used to achieve testing objectives. A test strategy is set by the project’s business requirements, which is why it aligns with a project manager’s duties.
A test plan describes what to test, when to test, how to test, and who does the tests. It also depicts the testing objectives, activities, and risk control. It’s best if a qualified person, such as a QA software testing lead or manager, writes a test plan.
As the IEEE standard 829 states, a test plan should contain:
- Test plan identifier (unique company number)
- Introduction (identifying the level of the plan)
- References (docs that support this test plan)
- Test items (list of what is to be tested)
- Features to be tested (users view of the functions)
- Features not to be tested (users view of the functions
- Item pass or fail criteria (identifying completion criteria of the test)
- Strategy (testing levels, types, techniques)
- Suspension criteria (identifying time to pause tests)
- Deliverables (test plan document itself, test cases, error/improvement logs, test reports, and more)
- Remaining test tasks
- Environmental Needs (hardware, software, tools)
- Staffing and training needs
- Responsibilities (who is in charge in all areas of the plan)
- Risk assessment
- Scheduling (based on realistic and validated estimates)
- Approvals (who approves testing as complete and allows it to proceed)
The preparation of compelling test cases is an integral part of software testing improvements. According to the definition by ISTQB (International Software Testing Qualifications Board), a test case is a document that includes a set of conditions or actions that are performed on the software application to verify the required functionality of the feature. It’s one of the primary tools used by testers.
The standard test case comprises the test case ID; test case description; prerequisites; test steps; test info; expected result; actual result; status; created by; date of creation; executed by; date of execution. See below the example of a standard test case.
2. Perform Formal Technical Reviews (FTRs)
FTR is a group meeting where engineers reveal functional and logical failures at the early stages. Attendants with specific roles ensure that developed software meets the expected standards and requirements.
It is best to run an FTR when you have MVP (minimum viable product). A common FTR requires a team of engineers with specific roles as speakers, reviewers, or producers. At the end of each meeting, a review report should answer the following questions: what was reviewed, who reviewed it, what findings and decisions are made?
3. Ensure Comfortable Work Conditions for the Team
Identify QA roles
Testing is typically performed by different specialists. For a test to run smoothly, the roles should be specified during the planning stage. There are three typical roles in QA with their own set of skills, responsibilities, and tools:
- QA lead
- Automation QA engineer
- Manual QA engineer
Respect your QA team
To achieve high-level quality goals, one needs to build strong relationships between members of the QA team. It is also helpful if you find people with coding skills; they can code some of their testing tools (Xray, Practitest, Testpad, TestMonitor, etc.). Such an approach caters to better communication between testers and developers. A QA lead’s core duty is to track the progress of the entire team as well as individual achievements at the meetings. This encourages other specialists to do their best in the future.
Expand AI-related skillset within the test team
Companies are exploring artificial intelligence in many ways to make testing smarter. AI can perform real-time risk assessments, find and prioritize issues that need to be addressed, and optimize an approach to create testing that is both predictable and fit for purpose. That’s why companies need to broaden the skills of their test teams to keep pace with emerging technologies and to make the business better every day.
Strive for better communication within a team
Face-to-face communication helps to avoid misunderstandings. Make sure you have a good team leader who can effectively share feedback and ideas with testers. QA managers should encourage team members to discuss existing problems and other issues that could affect productivity and efficiency.
4. Increase the Value of Automated Testing
Key findings of the World Quality Report 2019–20 by Capgemini and Sogeti show that there is an increased demand in intelligent testing. But in comparison with the 2017-2018 report, test automation cannot keep pace with the demand for rapid development.
Despite the challenges, companies are positive about the benefits of test automation.
5. Employ Code Quality Metrics
If you still wonder how to enhance software testing, make sure your quality objectives are measurable, documented, reviewed, and traceable. Since there’s no right way to assess code quality, the best advice is to choose metrics that are simple and effective for your workflow.
The CISQ Software Quality Model describes four aspects of code quality: reliability, performance efficiency, security, and maintainability.
Summary: Reap Benefits from Effective Software Testing
If you want your company to show excellent competence and have a positive image in the IT industry market, you must produce first-class products. Innovecs can help you with its broad-spectrum of expertise in domains like logistics, healthcare, e-commerce, fintech, ad tech, gaming, and much more.
The necessity in quality assurance services remains one of the critical objectives that impacts your business and its financial performance. The last year has shown that organizations have already started investigating techs, like AI or ML, and begun integrating them into their testing life cycle. Meaning, you should rethink the traditional testing and perhaps reinvent it to meet the demands of fast-paced product development.