If you aim to create high-quality products in time and meet the budget, prioritize building a high-performance testing process. It's proven that early and throughout software testing saves budget since the costs of fixing bugs increase 10X with each subsequent development stage. Referring to testing as a last-minute action can even lead to a project failure, as it’s happened to the startup Flud. Read on to learn more about the 10 steps that will improve the quality of your software testing.
How to Improve the Quality of Software Testing
1. Plan the testing and QA processes
The QA processes directly determine the quality of your deliverables, making test planning a must. Building a test plan helps you understand the testing scope, essential activities, team responsibilities, and required efforts.
Method 1. The IEEE 829 standard
The IEEE 829 software testing standard is developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world’s largest technical professional association.
Applying their template in QA planning will help you cover the whole process from A to Z. The paper specifies all stages of software testing and documentation, ensuring you get a standardized approach.
Following the IEEE 829 software testing standard, you have to consider 19 variables, namely, references, functions, risk issues, strategy, and others.
As a result, the standard removes any doubts regarding what to include and in what order. Following a familiar document helps your team spend less time preparing a detailed test plan, focusing on other activities.
Method 2. Google’s inquiry technique
Anthony Vallone, a Software Engineer and Tech Lead Manager at Google, shared his company’s inquiry method for test planning.
According to the expert, the perfect test plan is built of the balancing of several software development factors:
- Implementation costs;
- Maintenance costs;
- Monetary costs;
However, the main part is asking a set of questions in each stage.
If you think of the risks, the questions you should ask are:
1. Are there any significant project risks, and how to mitigate them?
2. What are the project’s technical vulnerabilities?
The answers to these points will help you get an accurate view of the details to include in your test plan. More questions are covered in Google’s testing blog.
2. Apply test-oriented development strategies
Approach 1. Test-driven development
Test-driven development (TDD) is an approach where engineers first create test cases for each feature, then write the code. If the code fails the test, the new code is written before moving on to the next feature.
The TDD practice is also mentioned in Google Cloud’s guide for continuous testing. It is explained that unit tests help the developer test every method, class, or feature in an isolated environment. Thus, the engineer detects bugs almost immediately, ensuring the software has little to no defects during deployment.
Approach 2. Pair programming
Pair programming is when two software developers work simultaneously: one writes the code while the other reviews it. Empirical research concludes that pair programming is most effective when working on complex tasks.
Thus, test-driven development and pair programming leave nearly no space for errors and code inconsistency.
3. Start testing early with a shift-left approach
Many teams have a common mistake in putting the testing activities as the last process before production. Considering that the costs to find & fix a bug increase 10 times with each development stage, this is an immense waste of resources.
Shifting left comes as a cost-efficient solution.
If you start testing early, you get the following benefits:
- Bug detection during early SDLC stages;
- Reduced time and money expenses;
- Increased testing reliability;
- Faster product delivery.
Moving the testing activities to an earlier stage gives the QA team more space for strategizing. The engineers can review & analyze the product requirements from a fresh viewpoint, create bug prevention mechanisms by collaborating with developers, and implement automated testing for repetitive actions.
4. Conduct formal technical reviews
A formal technical review is a group meeting where the project’s software engineers evaluate the developed application based on the set standards and requirements. It is also an efficient way to detect hidden issues collectively.
The meeting usually involves up to 5 specialists and is planned ahead in detail to maintain maximum speed & consistency. It should last no more than 2 hours. This is the optimal timeframe to review specific parts of the software.
It also includes such types of reviews as:
- Round-robin reviews, and others.
One person records all mentioned issues during the meeting to consolidate them in one file. Afterward, a technical review summary is created that answers the following questions:
1. What was reviewed?
2. Who reviewed it?
3. What are the discoveries and conclusions?
These answers help the team choose the best direction for enhancement and improve the software’s quality.
5. Build a friendly environment for your QA team
Psychological well-being is one of the factors that directly influence a person’s productivity and job attitude. Keeping a friendly work environment will help you keep the team motivated & energetic.
Define the QA roles during the planning stage
At least six QA roles are often combined in software testing. Aligning the responsibilities with each position is the key to a proper load balance and understanding.
Encourage communication and collaboration
Well-built communication helps the team solve tasks much faster. It is the key to avoiding misunderstandings and sourcing creative ideas for enhancing work efficiency.
Here is what you can do:
- Hold team meetings during the work process and discuss current issues & opinions;
- Communicate with teammates in private;
- Hold retrospective meetings to celebrate success and ponder upon failures.
Enhancing communication & collaboration increases the quality of your testing processes, as the team always has a fresh view of the situation.
6. Apply user acceptance testing
User acceptance testing determines how good your software is from an end user's standpoint. For example, the software may be perfect technically but absolutely unusable for your target audience. That’s why you need your customers to estimate the app.
Do not use functional testers
A functional tester is unlikely to cover all real-world scenarios because he would focus on the technical part. This is already covered in unit tests. Thus, you need as many unpredictable scenarios as possible.
Hire professional UAT testers
An acceptance tester focuses on the user-friendliness of your product by running multiple scenarios & scripts, and involving interested users. The process ensures you get an app focused on real people, not personas. You can hire a professional UAT team with an extensive testing background for the job.
Set clear exit criteria
Evaluating the results of UAT tests is challenging due to immense subjectiveness. Setting several exit criteria helps you get more precise information. Stanford University has developed a template for UAT exit criteria that simplifies the process.
7. Optimize the use of automated testing
Applying automated testing increases test’s depth, scope, and overall quality by saving time, money, and effort. It is the best approach when running a repetitive task multiple times throughout a project. However, note that it is not a complete substitute for manual testing.
Use a test automation framework
A test automation framework is a set of tools and guidelines for creating test cases. There are different types, each designed for specific needs.
A framework’s major benefit is automating the core testing processes:
- Test data generation;
- Test execution;
- Test results analysis.
Additionally, test automation frameworks are very scalable. They can be adapted to support new features and increased load as your business grows.
Stay tuned for Meta’s open-source AI tools
Facebook’s engineering team has recently published an article about their usage of SapFix and Sapienz. These are AI hybrid tools created to reduce the team's amount of time to test and debug. One of the key benefits is the autonomous generation of multiple potential fixes per bug, evaluating the proposition’s quality, and waiting for human approval.
It is expected that the tools will be released in open source in the near future.
Meanwhile, you can check out Jackson Gabbard’s description of Facebook’s software testing process when he was an engineer there.
Hire a professional QA automation team
Hiring an outsource test automation team helps you get high-quality solutions and reduce the load on your in-house engineers.
Some of the areas covered include:
- GUI testing;
- Unit testing;
- API testing;
- Continuous testing.
You can get a QA team with a background in your industry, bringing the required expertise at cost-efficient terms.
8. Combine exploratory and ad hoc testing
Exploratory and ad hoc testing is when testers cover random lifelike situations, usually to discover bugs that aren’t found by regular test types.
Major key points:
- Minimum documentation required;
- Random actions with little to no planning;
- Maximum creativity.
Both are somewhat similar to user acceptance testing, but the minor differences are the total game-changers.
Exploratory testing is all about thinking outside the box. Testers get nearly complete freedom of the process, as there are no requirements except for the pre-defined goals. Also, the approach is somewhat structured due to the mandatory documentation.
The results are used to build future test cases, so the exploratory method is closer to formal testing types. It is best used for quick feedback from a user perspective.
Joel Hynoski, a former Google Engineer Manager, wrote about Google’s usage of exploratory testing when checking their applications.
Irina Bobrovskaya, Testing Department Manager
"Exploratory testing should be applied in all projects in one way or another. It helps the tester see the app from the end user's view, regularly shift case scenarios, cover more real-life situations, and grow professionally.
Exploratory testing is especially helpful in projects with scarce or absent requirements and documentation. As an example, our SnatchBot project (web app for chatbot creation) illustrates how explanatory testing helped us get to know the project, set the right priorities, build a basic documentation form, and test the app. "
Ad hoc testing
Ad hoc testing is an informal approach that has no rules, goals, or strategies. It’s a method that implies the usage of random techniques to find errors. Testers chaotically check the app, counting on their experience and knowledge of the system.
QA engineers typically conduct ad hoc testing after all formal approaches are executed. It's the last step to find bugs missed during automated & regression tests, so no documentation is created.
9. Employ code quality measurements
If your team gets a clear definition of quality, they’ll know which metrics to keep in mind during work.
The CISQ Software Quality Model defines four aspects:
- Security – based on the CWE/SANS top 25 errors;
- Reliability – issues that affect availability, fault tolerance, and recoverability;
- Performance efficiency – weaknesses that affect the response time and hardware usage;
- Maintainability – errors that impact testability, scalability, etc.
The model includes a detailed set of standards for each aspect, providing 100+ rules every software engineer must consider.
10. Report bugs effectively
Good bug reports help the team identify and solve the problem significantly faster.
Apart from covering the general data, you must always consider adding the following:
- Potential solutions;
- Reproduction steps;
- An explanation of what went wrong;
- A screenshot of the error.
Bug report template
You can see a very basic bug report template on GitHub. It can be changed according to your needs based on the project’s requirements.
Here is the bug report template used in most projects at Belitsoft. Depending on the project’s needs, we may modify the sheet by adding a video of the bug, information about the bug’s environment, and application logs.
If bug is reproduced in specific environment it can be mentioned here (e.g. Browser, OS version, etc.)
Person responsible for fixing is mentioned here
Product version where bug is reproduced
Component/part of the project
if there are any
Steps to reproduce:
Can also include the link to the requirements
Some specific details of reproducing can be mentioned here
Links to the Story/Task (or related issue):
if there are any
Want the help of a professional QA team to improve your software testing quality? Get a free consultation from Belitsoft’s experts now!