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Published on April 20th, 2017 | by Guest

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5 Tips for Developing an Effective Software Quality Testing and Assurance Culture

Software development is no longer a one site affair, it is has advanced with some projects divided and worked on concurrently at different sites across the globe. The consequent challenge for developers is how to ensure a standard software quality throughout the process at all these different sites; which quality test methods are most effective and how do they keep up with the test methods that are ever changing?

In this article A1QA software testing experts share 5 tips for developing an effective software quality testing and assurance culture:

Tip 1: Ensure quality from the outset

With software development, quality assurance really is and should be with the developers; the quality assurance team does not have a hand in quality control but is only able to alert about potential risks. With this in mind, developers must be empowered on quality assurance to ensure the observance and implementation of highest quality standards from the outset; the coding they come up with will either endear the end user or offer them a bad experience.

In any case, if developers are not integral to quality assurance, it is possible for problems to escalate from manageable proportions to expensive fixes or total blunders. A good software development team should include developers, testers, designers, product managers, and executive stakeholders so that all views are taken care of.

Tip 2: Empower software developers

Since it is now clear that developers are the real quality people, the next thing to do is empower them to meet this requirement effectively. Traditional test methodology has long held that testing is separate from development; well, it ought to be collaborative involving everyone on the project, not just the testers.

Trending test methods promote more ownership for developers while collaborating with the rest of the team.  It is proven that a quality process captained by the development team, have fewer bugs, fewer returns or concerns from the Quality Assurance team and hit the market faster. Developers that write quality tests are more inclined to maintain a high standard of quality.

Tip 3: Engage the end user

Probably the most important person in the whole process, yet many times we may be tempted to keep them at arm’s length; you should involve the customer actively. Have them give frequent feedback on the product for future improvement and development; software developers who respond quickly to customer feedback are generally more successful.

Tip 4: Leverage Test

The question of whether tests are necessary if the developer is primarily responsible for ensuring quality assurance has arisen. However, tests are here to stay; test engineers offer the critical and objective role of being able to look at quality issues across the entire process. The advantages of a testing team are:

  • Provide early feedback; acting for and like the end user, they will respond to issues of – product scope, design and architecture, and sustainability.
  • Hasten the process by handling the product’s automated test framework and responding to development team.
  • Invigorate the creative process by supplementing the development team testing by proposing new ideas for test cases and introducing new testing practices.
  • Offers flexibility in testing; the software test team concentrates on exploratory testing and provides objectivity when the software developers need quick and critical feedback especially for areas that are harder to test automatically.
  • Easily interact with others on issues forwarded from customer support, software test engineers and help issues arising for implementation of fixes and solutions by developers.
  • Enable a development and test teams synergy enabling growth and retention of talent through responsibilities sharing. Software test engineers working actively interacting with developers gives them insights into software development thus offering them a broader perspective while developers gain by being involved in improving the test automation requirements.

Tip 5: Create a dependable software test strategy

For good quality software, an effective and dependable testing strategy is required that encompasses automated testing, manual testing and exploratory tests. This cycle of tests will give you a reliable testing process to reduce risk, quickly identify problems and ensure    fast releases. The testing process should cover unit tests for component systems, integration tests for subsystems and a functional system to test the working of the whole software for end to end test feedback.

A dependable testing strategy incorporates the following:

A case for automated testing

With the rapid fluidity of software development, manual testing is not tenable; automated testing is more reliable since they are able to run repeated tests quickly and dependably. Problems are detected faster and fixed just as fast.

Elements of dependable automated testing

Developers and QA joint testing As we analyzed earlier, joint testing by the software development and quality assurance teams is a fortress when it comes to ensuring quality through and through; developers who do coding and maintenance of quality tests tend to identify problems faster, while the QA team help developers come up with the right tests, especially for integration and function testing. The earlier problems are found and corrected the more efficient the system and the faster the software release.

Run efficient tests

Whether manual or automated, the problem of efficiency arises- tests can take time to run. What you want to do is turn this around for more efficient testing by developing faster performing tests, having tests that are more focused with horizontal scaling.

Your tests should run on  minimal resources; achieve this by  Testing server side and client components independently,  employing equivalence partitioning to make tests more effective when testing different configurations and see to it that non-dependent tests run in parallel using multiple build agents.

Good testing architecture

Current software is not isolated but networked; interdependent, integrated and linked to other applications and programs, consequently, the components of your testing system should be able to keep up. Have tests that are well designed to deal with all these facets of modern software so that tests are reliable and effective; your test should help you narrow down, track and fix problems, not leave you with more questions.

Assess, analyse and examine your tests regularly

Tests must be tested as well; how do you know whether your automated test is looking into and for the right things? There are tools that will partly help you solve this challenge, by analyzing the test coverage but cannot give the answer as to whether the riskiest areas are actually tested. Have regular test code assessment to help point out lapses and find flaws so that the test is confirmed to be exhaustive by verifying expected result.

Have a test system cleaner

The more software tests that are run, the more the test failures; these failures leads to deterioration of the system which should be cleaned by cleaning remnants and enabling quarantine of failed tests for optimal functioning.

A case for manual testing

Manual tests have the benefit of being easy to design since they are a reflection of customer experience; they should be able to be reproduced several times over to be used on several builds. It works best for area testing, with a set of controlled steps for the area being tested, has an expected result and should be used as part of the larger testing strategy. However, for foundational testing automation is best.

Elements of dependable manual testing

Test methodology

There are three types of methods to test a new product:

  • Black box test methodology, which assumes that the tester has knowledge of the product being tested, focuses on the inputs and outputs of the system, basically how it performs or functions without assessing its internals. This is the same approach given to a product by the end user who will buy it; how it feels, how it drives, how it reacts, how it responds etc.
  • White box testing will assess component parts individually and verify that each component performs as required. This methodology ensures individual component or part is working optimally for effective and expected overall performance.
  • The third is grey box testing which is similar to black box testing but has the luxury of having core information about the system to inform and drive the test.

Human input in testing is integral

As much as we are using exploratory and automated tests more, manual testing will still fill the gap between the two and are the true reflection of the user (human) experience.

When a problem is detected from an exploratory session and it can’t be run through an automated test, then it naturally falls to manual testing which ensures human eyes are looking at the product to certify it. You must expect and understand potential risk

A dependable test strategy must anticipate and understand any potential risk and effectively plan for it; weighs the cost of failure against the cost preventing or solving that failure. You should have answers to scenarios like:

  • If a software glitch occurs to a customer in the field, what is the likely impact?
  • How common is that glitch

How quickly can the glitch be fixed?

Have a tests and issues tracking system in place

A combined test tracking and issue tracking system will to keep your software at its best; testers and developers will benefit hugely from integrated reports of test results and issues detected at by having insights into linking a problem to a failed test or tracking the status of a test across several builds.

A case for exploratory testing

The greatest advantage of exploratory software tests is that it opens to all; anyone can jump in to help explore the software and as much they are not random tests, they are not really regimented or scripted like a manual test. Exploratory tests will help you learn a lot about the way the software will be used since the tester look at the product organically as will be in the wider market; unexpected issues can be detected, an unexpected application of the software may be discovered etc.

Elements of dependable exploratory testing

Engage diverse users in testing

The same way the software is targeted at the open market, the diverse users out there must be represented during tests; some users will be experts while others will the regular Joe, thus the need to have diversity in testing. Exploratory software testing should cater to the needs of all types of users and is integral for verifying user experience, as opposed to looking into a specific area of code. Well-designed products should cater to all, thus the importance of exploratory test results to product owners, user experience designers and the development and engineering teams.

Intuitive anticipation of risk

Exploratory tests have the ability to evoke emotional responses to a product; testers on the product team will feel if a product is ready and this is probably the most valuable information you want about a product’s abilities, performance and health. There is a natural way of identifying risk; products with glaring risks will elicit less positive emotional connection and responses.

The exclusive benefit of user stories

What better way to get what users want from your product than exploratory tests; you get ordinary expressions about how users expect or want the software to work, test engineers can the turn these stories into a test session which are short and focused on evaluating user stories for veracity.

An easy feedback process

Exploratory testers should remain product focused; they must be focused on giving genuine feedback and reporting issues, in a process that is simple and yet effective. Product feedback from testers that is not is not exhaustive or far-reaching enough will not be actionable by the development and engineering team, and conversely, feedback is too cumbersome from the development team to users will not get them feedback from enough users. Good feedback processes allow users to genuine feedback easily and also relay information on key environment back to the engineering team, who should create templates that question a user’s application to ensure that e relevant data like the browser used is captured and every issue is reported.

Interlinked test feedback

What is the use of having all these different tests if the feedback is exclusive to a specific test? The way to go is to create feedback loop to other tests so that it is easier to learn from each individually and as a whole; when looped it is easy to learn from each test experience to help improve and strengthen all, makes reviewing tests easier to find out if a test should have pinpointed a failure or problem and didn’t and if it is a new development quickly know to incorporate an automated test.

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