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The Importance of Testing And How to Do It Properly

Peter Tylee · 30 Oct 2023

Testing is a critical aspect of software development that clients often overlook. However, testing helps identify bugs and issues early on, which can save time and money in the long run. It is crucial to have a robust testing process in place, including automated testing and manual testing, to ensure that the software is functioning as intended.

Let’s take a closer look at exactly why testing is so important and when and how you should do it.

Why Should I Conduct Software Testing?

Even the world’s best software developers make mistakes. Human error is inevitable. The goal of software testing is to uncover these mistakes and correct them before your product goes to market.

Whilst it may not be possible to run a test for every possible variation, thorough testing will reduce the likelihood of errors, gaps, bugs, defects and missing requirements falling through the cracks and increase the quality of your final product.

If you don’t test your software, you run the risk of creating a poor-quality product at best, and a dangerous product at worst. In extreme cases, an undetected bug or defect could degrade interconnected systems or lead to serious malfunctions with catastrophic outcomes. Like the time Nissan had to recall over one million cars due to a software defect in the airbag sensor detectors, for example. Or when Hawaii sent a false missile alarm to residents – a direct result of human error causing configuration defects in the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s alarm system. And, worse still, were the two Boeing 737 Max crashes in 2018 and 2019, which caused 346 fatalities and was said to be caused by a flawed flight control system.

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Even if the outcomes aren’t as severe as these examples, sending a poor quality product to market can damage your reputation and lead to a loss of customers. Once you’ve lost a customer due to frustration over functionality, it’s near impossible to win them back. By testing, you’ll address many potential issues including architectural flaws, security vulnerabilities, functionality issues, design issues, and scalability issues, and be more likely to create a product that meets customer expectations. Happy customers spread the word, leading to increased sales and market share.

Additionally, by properly testing your software, you’ll:

Deliver a secure product. Security is a number one concern for consumers, which means when choosing software, customers will be more likely to choose a product that has undergone testing. When you test your product, you’ll be able to discover any vulnerabilities and sensitivities and then fix these to avoid data breaches and other security issues.

Meet requirements and expectations. By running software testing, you’ll ensure that you are meeting all the requirements of your project and that the product you’re creating is working as intended.

Comply with regulations. Testing can help ensure you’re in compliance with any legal obligations and industry-specific standards.

Save in the long run. By discovering errors early on, it will be much cheaper, faster and easier to fix than when problems are discovered later. Ultimately, the cost of finding and fixing bugs increases over time.

Enhance the development process. Testers and developers often work alongside each other. Testers pass on invaluable information which reduces the likelihood of errors occurring in the future and speeds up the development process.

Ascertain recovery rates. Software testing will help you identify how long it will take your application to recover after a failure.

Make adding new features easier. Testing can reduce the complexities of your code, making it easier to add in new features down the track.

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When Should I Conduct Software Testing?

Back in the day, it was commonplace to test software separately to the development and at a later stage in the software development cycle, usually after the product build or execution stage. The problem with that is if you uncover bugs and defects that late in the process, fixing them can be difficult, expensive and very time consuming. Nowadays, it’s much more common practice to implement a methodology known as ‘continuous testing’, which takes place at each stage of the software development lifecycle (SDLC).

There are benefits to running tests at each stage. For instance:

  • Testing at the analysis phase means you’ll be able to identify defects even before they’re implemented.
  • Testing during the design phase will reduce the risk of fundamental design flaws.
  • Testing throughout the development phase will allow for efficient testing against customer requirements.
  • Testing before deployment will allow you to catch any errors that may have been undetected previously and validate your software before it is released.

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What Kind of Testing Do I Need to Do?

Testing is both manual and automated, and can be divided into functional and non-functional testing.

Manual testing is testing completed by an actual person who will click through the application and interact with the software. Automated testing is completed by a machine that executes a test script. Automated testing is a crucial element of continuous delivery.

Functional testing focuses on the requirements and features of your product. Essentially, functional testing looks at the elements users interact with and may include:

  • Unit testing. Unit tests are automated tests designed to catch errors early by checking the functionality of a single unit of code.
  • Integration testing. Integration tests look at how different units of code or systems interact and are therefore helpful for catching issues arising from integrating different components.
  • Acceptance testing. Acceptance tests make sure that the entire system is working how a user would expect it to.
  • Regression testing. Regression tests checks whether new features will break or degrade functionality. Sanity testing is a simplified form of regression testing that examines functions, commands and menus.
  • Smoke testing. Smoke tests usually take place after a new build or deployment and are designed to verify the functionality of basic features.
  • End-to-end testing. End-to-end testing works by mimicking end users’ behaviour within the application to ensure everything is working as expected. It includes things like logging in and out, loading a page, and making online payments.

Non-functional testing is focused on the behaviour of the application and the things that users cannot see such as security, reliability and performance. Non-functional tests include:

  • Performance testing. Performance testing examines how the software performs under different workloads. Load testing is a similar test that is performed under actual load conditions.
  • Stress testing. Stress testing is designed to see how much strain the system can handle before crashing.
  • Usability testing. Usability Testing looks at how well a customer can use a system or application to complete a task and if they have any problems with the UI.
  • Security testing. Security testing allows you to verify that the software is safe and free from vulnerabilities and flaws that could compromise data safety.
  • Compatibility testing. Compatibility testing ensures that your software will work across different browsers, hardware, devices and operating systems.
  • Reliability testing. Reliability testing determines how your software performs in different conditions.

Even a simple application may require a significant amount and variety of tests. Testing involves multiple stages including defining the test environment, developing test cases, writing scripts, analysing results and preparing defect reports. Whilst this can be a time-consuming process, the benefits are worth it. A clear test management plan will help you prioritise and ensure you’re testing in the most effective and efficient way possible, and working with a professional team who is experienced in testing solutions can help streamline the process.

To find out more about the importance of testing and how to implement it in your project, get in touch with GistLens today.