As a software tester or as part of a quality assurance team, we all come across certain challenges in our day to day work. There will have been times when we have searched “What is the best method for testing software?”. It would make things so simple and easy if we could get a single response, but the reality is that although we can find important and relevant information, there is no such thing as “the best method for testing”. The projects we work on are all unique in some or the other sense, so it stands to reason that the same technique or method cannot be used in all the projects.
So although we cannot have a single best method, we definitely can have a range of software testing best practices which can ease our work and help us in producing better output. Best practices are simply a set of guidelines or rules which can be utilized across any of our testing projects.
This article will share with you details about the 6 Best Practices for Software Testing that can be leveraged in any testing project.
Six Best Practices for Software Testing
1. Understand Project Objective
It is very important to understand the objective of the overall project from a business, as well as a technical, perspective. When I say overall, I mean to say each and every member of the team must be aware of the aim/objective of the project as a whole and not just the scope of their testing. It’s pretty obvious that the whole project will be divided among several team members and each team member will focus only on their areas of testing, but having a knowledge about the entire application and architecture is always useful. It helps them know about all the different components, dependencies, integration points and data flow. It’s also useful during test execution because if a defect is identified, testers can better nail down the root cause if they are aware of the overall application flow. Similarly, being aware of the purpose from a business perspective, helps in defining better test scenarios that consider all user interactions.It is recommended to spend time on proper analysis and gain overall application understanding.
2. Plan and Define Strategy
Can we have success without a roadmap or a plan? Planning is not just required in software development and testing, but consider your daily routine; we actually plan our day and make sure we allocate timing for all the different activities we do in a day. Hence, planning has become crucial for any success. As a best practice, it’s good to include the following activities as part of Test Planning:
- Select resources with the right skill set
- Identify Risks
- Prepare the Test Schedule
- Define Strategy – This marks as the most important activity of test planning. Test Strategy includes defining the overall approach planned to be taken in order to test an application. As stated earlier, since our projects are all unique, we cannot plan an execution based on one strategy as strategies will vary depending on scenarios. Consider some of the scenarios we come across often:
i: Delay in development and as a result, delay in starting QA ,but no change in planned QA timeline.
ii: Change in QA scope
3. Design Scenarios and Enforce Reviews
The standard design phase will include the creation of test scenarios and test cases and their reviews by respective stakeholders. sometimes, the test case generation part can be skipped to focus only on test scenarios, which is acceptable if the overall span of the project is short. What I want to convey in this section is the importance of reviews by the stakeholders or the business. There can be situations where the testing team is required to directly start test execution, but it is always good to create a high level scenario during the requirement study and ensure that it is reviewed. Reviews bring their own benefits such as:
- Conformance on Coverage
- Indications on the understanding of the tester
4. Identification of Test Data
When test scenarios or test cases are designed, we create different types of tests that include negative, positive cases etc. In order to execute the planned tests, we require different types of data. Sometimes, data needs are straightforward and we may test using simple parameters but there are instances where the same data needs to be generated from a different source, flow into multiple systems or be transformed before it reaches the destination system. In such cases, it can be challenging if the tester comes across issues related to test data creation during execution phase.It is always a good practice to begin identifying the data sets early during the test design phase and not wait until the test execution phase starts.
We all need to communicate with other team members on a daily basis, be it via emails, over the phone, chat or in person. Correct? Think of a case where you receive a communication with partial or missing information. For example, a defect is marked as fixed by a developer, but the testing team tests it and finds out that it’s still not working as expected, so add a note “ Issue is unresolved” . It goes back to the development team and they say, it’s working fine at our end. Can this be considered a good form of communication? This is simply throwing the ball in someone else’s court and not trying to bring a thing to closure. The catch here is when the testing team updates the defect as “Issue is unresolved”, they should be very specific and should provide additional details such as if it was tested on multiple browsers and not working on all or if it was partially fixed etc. It is very important to be clear and detailed on what we are trying to communicate.
6. Scope of Automation
Last but not the least, there isn’t a software where we don’t find an opportunity to automate. Automation doesn’t always indicate use of tools. An automation of a task can be achieved by simply writing some scripts to automate a repetitive job to reduce the endless hours of manual effort. Identifying the scope of automation doesn’t always need to be a different exercise, as it can easily be identified during the manual test execution cycle. It’s simple. Follow these steps and maybe you will find out your scope or area which can be automated –
- Identify the most painful area which you hated to do but you had to do during your test design or test execution.
- Keep your thinking cap on to determine how that can be automated.