Every day we rely on software. People worldwide use different software systems every day to do their jobs and personal activities, from medical appointments, ordering food, shopping, streaming, investing, and more. These pieces of software can be in the form of a web-based application, a mobile app, or even a TV app.
There is no doubt that we live in a world where individuals are remarkably familiar with the tools available to access information or solve problems with just a few clicks. And, for this reason, users are constantly pushing their service providers for higher quality software products. However, developing software is a journey in which multiple factors need to be considered to meet the expectations of end users, who, in many cases, are a very plural audience.
If you are working on a new App idea or implementing new software in your company, some form of testing is a must-have ingredient during the process to verify that your product is behaving and performing as expected.
Nevertheless, some software startups or small businesses do not always consider testing on the budget. In many cases it is because they think that a formal software testing function is too expensive to implement, but experience tells us that not doing it ends up being even more expensive.
There are several famous cases related to software failures, such as what happened with the Zoom App in 2020, when they detected some defects that allowed third parties to access personal information, leaving the users vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Another case was the one Yahoo experienced when the company claimed that some user account information was stolen from their network in 2016, affecting 500 million users. In 2015, Starbucks had to close about 60 percent of stores in the U.S. and Canada due to software failure in its POS (point of sale) system, caused by what Starbucks called “a failure during a daily system refresh.”
It is well-known that there is no perfect software, even the ones created by globally recognized companies are subject to bugs. A good testing practice can early prevent and dismiss some of the initial defects that, if left unfixed for too long, can potentially leave open doors to costly cyberattacks.
Furthermore, software products must be tested not only during their initial development phases but also along the way, with every new update or when improving new features.
To get started, there are a few basic tests that are recommended to run before launching that may help you save time and money while reducing risks for your company and users. Establishing a good testing practice and a validated QA (Quality Assurance) process may give your software substantially more value.
What is software testing?
Software testing is a process that will help you evaluate and verify that a software product or application does what it is supposed to do. Software testing will allow you to identify issues, defects, or gaps in your product. The most known benefits of testing include reducing development costs, improving performance for your users, and of course, preventing bugs. Even little bugs can indeed produce an enormous impact on your development journey, either losing money and time or affecting your users in multiple ways.
To start, it is important to understand what software testing is and how it needs to be implemented to obtain the desired results. In a very high-level summary, it is a process that will verify how effective your software is regarding its functionality and performance. There are different types of testing. Some of the most popular categories are known as Functional, Non-Functional, and Maintenance Testing.
Functional Software Testing is used to determine whether a software is behaving following the predetermined requirements. In other words, its main goal is to validate if a system works as intended.
In the other hand, Non-Functional Software Testing takes into account non-functional parameters, such as reliability, performance, load handling capabilities, portability, security, and efficiency. This testing type offers a better knowledge of the product behavior and its technologies that may help reduce risks.
Once the software is launched, it might need to be upgraded with new features, and corrections, bringing up time for Maintenance Testing. This software testing type allows testing modifications in the functionality, known as confirmation maintenance testing and regression maintenance testing.
What are the benefits of software testing?
Scalability: If a software works perfectly with a hundred simultaneous users, it doesn’t mean that it will perform the same with a thousand, ten thousand or one million people using it. To find out its limits and potential points of failure, the testing team can simulate increased workloads, taking into account parameters such as the amount of data being transmitted, number of transactions per minute, and others.
Quality Assurance (QA): Delivering software with the highest quality possible should be the top priority. Proper software testing helps to this purpose, and the gains in terms of your business reputation in a competitive market can be that differentiator that will in turn translate into profits that can greatly surpass the investment made in a good testing practice.
Customer Satisfaction: Meeting or not customer expectations are what makes all the difference. A buggy, slow, or unpractical software will very soon motivate the user to uninstall it.
Security: This may be the most sensitive and vulnerable part of software testing. Even when the average user has no easy way to verify how safe a software is, the minute the hear that somebody using the same system was hacked, they will try to avoid it at all costs, in that moment and possibly in the future, even after the issue has been fixed.
Early Defect Identification: Working on complex applications naturally leaves room for errors. Software testing helps to identify as many of them as possible during the early development stages, when the cost to fix them is the lowest. If a defect is not caught early and makes its way into a production version, its impact is amplified, and the effort required to fix it can be substantially more as well.
Save money: Software development issues resulting from a lack of software testing can result in an expensive problem. Implications typically go beyond the software itself. As it can affect end-users in different ways, such as information loss or inability to operate key business processes. In many cases this can lead to lawsuits, brand mistrust, and affect market share.
Software testing best practices
To do software testing right, the key is to find the correct strategy and apply it consistently.
First, you must have a clear list of the specifications and requirements your software needs to meet to consider it successful. That way it will be easier to identify issues and prevent situations that can make your software a bad investment or a terrible user experience. Software testing is a process that will take time, so you must consider it a constant component in your budget.
Developing journey: Test early, test often. Make sure you have a testing strategy that covers multiple aspects but, with particular emphasis in discovering those mishaps sooner rather than later.
Automated soft testing: By reducing your software testing time, you can improve testing coverage and speed up the process. That will enable the testing team to focus on more relevant and strategic aspects. Automated testing uses scripted sequences that can be used for Functional, Unit, Integration, System and Performance testing, among others.
Test on real devices: Device emulators are a good option for a development team to test the behavior of a software when used in different hardware platforms. However, if budget allows it, running tests on different physical devices will also help to spot other errors such as slow internet or network connections, low battery issues, interference from other apps, etc.
Reporting of testing results: Document all the software testing journey, including observations, issues detected, their severity and priority. Organize all the documentation in a way that is easy to find or use one of the many platforms available for bug tracking and reporting.
In summary, software testing should not be seen as an additional expense to your software development efforts. Instead, look at it as the strategy that can help delivering quality software to your users, increase its level of adoption, avoid potential security issues and, most of all, a component that will give you peace of mind, knowing that you are doing all in your power to deliver high quality software.