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Software QA Testing: 9 Essential Principles

Software QA testing is an engineering process. It focuses on measuring the quality of a system and making sure the application will meet end-user expectations. As such, it is an essential activity because the processes of developing and maintaining software commonly introduce defects, usually due to:

  • The miscommunication or misinterpretation of requirements
  • Complexity of modern applications
  • Mistakes made by developers
  • Requirement changes
  • Pressure to finish the project

Therefore, the purpose of most software QA testing activities is to find defects. However, there is also regression testing, which helps assure that the application and its functionality can evolve over time without regressing.

On the Straight and Narrow Path With the Right Testing Strategy

Because of the self-healing and impact analysis capabilities of OutSystems, the quality of the applications it generates is much higher than those developed with traditional tools. Nevertheless, to mitigate risk, you still need to test your specific business logic and behaviors. After all, you need to ensure your application is doing what you expect. This is why OutSystems is open and compatible with the tools teams typically use. Examples include Selenium for UI testing and SoapUI for API testing. You should also integrate testing into the continuous delivery cycle so there aren’t losses in productivity.

In addition, there are some principles for assured software QA testing that can keep you on the right path, whether you’re using OutSystems or are developing by other means.

1. Defects Found Later in the Development Cycle Are More Expensive

As the following graph illustrates, the cost of fixing a defect grows as the software reaches the production phase, and in the later stages may be more than 100 times higher than in the dev and build stages. Therefore, you should not wait until right before your release to begin testing.

software qa testing costs

2. Software QA Testing Is Everybody’s Business

Testing tools are only part of the solution; people are at the core of outstanding software engineering, because software quality is everybody’s responsibility. High-quality software is well designed, well developed, well documented, well tested, well operated and well maintained. As you can see, it’s important to involve your entire team in your testing strategy and initiatives.

3. Adopt Practices That Improve Software Quality

Developing software is complex and challenging. Every technology has practices to reach higher quality standards. Seek out those practices and find out how to implement them. For example, good architecture is a key ingredient to ensure software quality. The 4 Layer Canvas in OutSystems is one way to handle such complexity. In addition, we recommend Development Best Practices and Performance Best Practices.

4. Adopt “Definition-of-Done” and Clear Acceptance Criteria for All User Stories

Having clear acceptance criteria goes a long way into reducing complexity and ambiguity. It is of utmost importance that every piece of functionality be clearly defined. As a result, everyone, including your customer, knows the rational behind each feature, when it is finished and how it is validated.

5. Adopt DevOps Practices

Modern businesses are constantly pressured to stay ahead of the competition. So, they need to deliver value faster, which results in frequent (even daily) deployments. DevOps, more precisely CI and Test Automation, has proven to be a great accelerator and still enables you to manage risk. OutSystems provides a smooth continuous delivery process that streamlines your DevOps practices, giving you a quick head start. However, you should monitor all your processes to ensure continuous improvement towards software quality.

6. Have a Testing Strategy That Maximizes Impact Without Incurring Unnecessary Costs

With traditional development, the best strategy is to automate tests in high-risk areas and business critical scenarios, where manual regression testing will prove more efficient for less risky or critical scenarios. So, choose your automated testing strategy carefully. There is also the option of using a platform that automates a number of functions, including testing.

7. Test Your Components

You need to make sure all your components work properly when integrated into your solution. With OutSystems, you benefit from starting with a set of low-code components, which have already been tested by world class engineers. As a result, the baseline level of quality is much higher than if you hand coded everything. For example, the testing of visual components occurs across innumerable browser versions and form factors. Testing your components from the bottom up ensures quality for your entire solution.

8. Involve Users as Soon as Possible

The “Absence of Errors Fallacy” tells us that finding and fixing defects does not help if the system does not fulfill the user needs and expectations. So, the best way to avoid being stuck with an “unusable” system is to make sure that you incorporate users as part of your strategy as early in the process as possible. You should also make it easy for them to offer opinions such as enabling them to make suggestions or report errors right in your app. The result is a continuous and fast quality improvement cycle.

9. Testing Does Not Mean Slower Delivery Cycles

Testing does add some overhead, but if you do it intelligently, you can experience very little delay in delivery. Consider parallel testing, for example, which runs multiple tests on all kinds of operating systems and browsers at the same time. The process is automated, and it often runs on virtual machines. Ephemeral environments, whereby environments are created quickly and torn down just as fast after finishing a stage, are another option that can help.

As you consider you own smart testing approach, you can use the the following testing pyramid as a guide for the amount of effort needed. As you can see, you should have many more unit tests, which execute really fast and provide a localized coverage of business rules. UI tests are harder to setup and maintain. Their focus is on covering the end-to-end critical use cases.

software qa testing pyramid


Another Software QA Testing Option

If you keep these principles in mind, your testing is more likely to be successful. And that success means you’re achieving the results you and your users want. Or, there’s another option: developing with OutSystems. With OutSystems some of the usual tests you’d have to manually write are not necessary. And, it easily integrates with any testing tool. As a result, you can complement your software QA testing strategy with the most effective practices.

Do you have any testing stories to share? Have you learned any other rules or principles? If so, let me know.

About the author

António Barros

When he's not thinking of great software QA strategies that can save time and effort, António Barros is a product manager at OutSystems. His other passion is proposing solutions that present real benefits to customers.

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