Unlike farming, bugs in software development aren’t seasonal, so you have to deal with them 365 days a year. However, what if your war against bugs and errors doesn’t go well enough? The total cost of poor-quality IT projects has reached $260 billion in 2020, so your project may fail if your software testing practices don’t improve. This situation is easy to explain: only 23% of IT budgets went for quality assurance (QA) in 2020, compared to 35% in 2015.
It’s not surprising that more than 40% of annual revenue losses are the result of poor end-product quality. With poor quality assurance, your project is likely to delay because software requires major rework, and customers can become so frustrated that they would think twice before opting for your solution when it’s finally launched.
That’s why a proper QA strategy is an essential part of any IT project, and you’re likely to ask now: “How to set up the software testing process properly?” In this article, the JatApp team will present a how-to guide on establishing a QA process that helps to destroy bugs effectively, thereby ensuring a high quality of your solution.
What are you fighting for?
Well, you already know what losses you can suffer, in case bugs dominate your software product. However, you also need to know what you’ll gain by implementing a proper quality assurance strategy. The rewards are appealing and definitely worth fighting for: you’ll save much time and money within all stages of the software development life cycle (SDLC).
In fact, 56% of software bugs are born at the stage of software requirements definition, and 27% during the design phase. When your team starts writing the code for your product, 83% of all bugs are already waiting to ambush your release.
For that reason, an effective software testing strategy aims at finding bugs as early as possible, thereby saving 150% of production time.
Likewise, a solid QA strategy implemented on time can cut up to 60-100% of costs spent on debugging after the product’s release. If you’re not convinced with these facts, read our dedicated article about why quality assurance is important, where we describe what quality assurance is and how it helps to create a top-selling product.
Good bug is dead bug or how a proper QA looks like
So, what are the steps in the testing process? There are six major steps that any proper testing procedure in software development life cycle must follow.
A proper quality assurance process starts with software requirements analysis from the testing point of view. Since a good bug is the one you found and didn’t let through, involvement of quality assurance engineers from project’s day one is crucial. The reason sounds fair enough: how can a QA team provide you with a proper quality assurance when they are not familiar with the solution beforehand?
When your QA team is involved in the project from its very beginning, they have more chances to come up with valid test strategies and test cases that will significantly reduce the number of bugs.
Analysis of requirements begins with understanding what your end-product is supposed to do in general: its purpose, key features, what problems it has to solve, and so on. Quality assurance professionals usually analyze the requirements by asking what, when, why, and how a certain component should work in the future product.
These questions are answered by a description of specific actions a user needs to perform for solving a particular problem. As soon as the QA team gets all the answers, it’s possible to determine the complexity of the entire QA process and types of software testing.
When all requirements are analyzed, it doesn’t mean your QA specialists will provide reliable information about the testing process. The matter is that these requirements should be validated, otherwise your QA team may start hitting wrong targets that don’t present any threat to functionality. To avoid “friendly fire” at your product, it’s essential to check whether the chosen requirements meet the following criteria:
- Correctness. Are the requirements correctly stated?
- Completeness. Are all requirements included in the testing process?
- Feasibility. Are all features possible to test?
- Testability. Are different tests applicable to this feature or requirement?
- Ambiguity. Is there more than one interpretation of the requirements?
- Consistency. Do all requirements align with each other?
Once all requirements appear to be valid, they will fall under three different categories: functional, non-functional, and special. Such classification helps to select the type of testing and identify valid test cases. As a result, the requirements analysis stage ends with creation of a requirements traceability matrix (RTM). This document describes all software requirements and tests applicable to each requirement.
Requirements traceability matrix example
After requirements validation, QA engineers proceed with planning specific tests, schedule their execution, and budget if necessary. Also, test planning usually involves information about levels of testing, tools for bug tracking, effort required, and distribution of responsibilities amongst the testing team members.
Test planning phase is expected to deliver two important documents: test plan and test estimation. Test plan describes the details of the testing process, necessary resources, schedules, responsibilities, and other information. In other words, the main goal of the testing plan is to record the results of the planning stage. Writing a test plan involves the following steps:
- Product analysis
- Test strategy design
- Test objectives design
- Test criteria definition
- Resource planning
- Test environment planning
- Schedule & estimation
- Test deliverables determination.
As for test estimation, it results in a document that provides a narrow-specific information about how long the testing will last and how many resources are needed. This document helps the QA team to get prepared for the testing process and inform the project stakeholders about resources necessary for running all tests.
This stage aims at creation of individual test cases, checklists, and scripts. Every single test has to contain a detailed description of conditions identifying the necessity of its performance and actions required for a successful test running. Baseline measures for each test are also important, so that QA specialists have a clear vision of what they need to achieve.
By the end of the test design stage, the QA team presents a series of test cases that clearly describe scenarios of testing various software features. Usually, a test case includes information about test type, actions to be taken, expected result, and possible status of the test after its execution.
Test cases example
Tests running and bugs detection
This is a stage when the testing actually takes place. The QA team follows the testing plan, records all defects that caused a test failure, and then tests them again. The test execution stage can be considered finished when RTM has all requirements in the “complete” status. Additionally, updates of test cases and defect reports are the other documents that should be created by the end of this stage.
Since you’re reading this article, you’ve probably already heard about manual and automated testing. So, it’s high time we talk about these two major ways you can test your software since they directly affect how the test running phase would happen.
Manual testing means that the QA team is directly involved in making all steps necessary for completion of the test cases, detection of defects, and their management.
What about the other one? Automated testing is running of a test script automatically, so that the QA team only checks whether the test has been completed successfully and then works on bugs assassination.
When all bugs are successfully destroyed, it’s still necessary to make sure that your software works well after such a battle. In order to do so, regression testing is needed. Regression testing is required to determine whether bug fixes didn’t spoil the rest of functionality.
There are several ways to run regression testing. The first way is to retest the entire product to determine whether any new defects arise as a result of bug fixes.
The second approach is to run only those test cases that are reusable when all bugs and defects are managed. If any new bugs appear, they’re also eliminated, and the rest of reusable tests run one more time.
The third way of how regression testing can take place is running test cases according to their impact on the functionality and customer’s business needs. The regression testing starts with the most essential features and finishes when the least important functionality is retested.
When the regression test is done, it’s time to run the release test, after which you can deploy the product to users. Even though you have already walked through many challenges, it’s not time to relax still. You may have a top-notch solution, but if it’s released badly, you’ll feel very uncomfortable explaining to the investors why a disaster happened out of nowhere.
Therefore, having a release plan is essential. There are no specific requirements to its format but just remember that you must have such a document. Usually, release plans include details about the criteria to release functionality and the software performance measures relevant to the current release.
Then, it’s crucial to add a release deployment step-by-step guide. In the same vein, rollback strategy is much needed, in case the release fails.
A thorough preparation brings a half of your victory over bugs
The effective quality assurance process begins with an appropriate preparation. You need to know about the key roles in software testing, hire the right people to perform these roles, and provide your team with software testing tools.
Your QA Ninja Crew
The team of QA specialists usually includes such roles as: QA engineer, test analyst, test architect, test manager, and QA team lead.
Pick your own battle tactics to fight bugs
There are three ways you can defeat bugs: hire an in-house QA team, get a service of QA consultancy, or outsource your software testing to an IT agency overseas. Each way of QA process implementation has its own pros and cons, so let’s study each tactic in detail.
In-house QA team
Hiring a regular in-house QA team makes sense when you have enough resources and your project is long-term. Also, you may intend to launch more projects over time, so you need a team of QA experts who know your business goals well.
When you hire an in-house QA team, you surely get a chance to create a close cooperation between QAs and developers as they can interact personally with each other. As a result, the QA team has a much deeper understanding of software requirements as they can clarify any question directly with software developers.
Likewise, an in-house QA specialist is able to communicate closely with the entire project team, so the whole organization can learn about software quality standards and how to follow them.
Last but not least is a cultural affinity of your in-house QA engineers with your other teams. When all your team members share the same culture, there are much less chances for misunderstandings. Therefore, your QA process will progress with fewer hiccups, which means your QA team will destroy as many bugs as possible.
Nevertheless, let’s remember that hiring an in-house team means that you have to spend time and money on recruitment, onboarding and training. You need to do this before your project starts, so finding a qualified QA expert in no time is especially expensive.
Still, even big money can’t guarantee that you find a good QA professional before your project begins. Moreover, you have to do it several times as one QA engineer won’t be able to fight all bugs alone.
And even when you get all your team together, you still need to come up with a testing strategy and ensure that all necessary resources are available.With this being said, we recommend you to opt for an in-house testing team only when you have more than enough time and budget to plan your QA department in advance.
QA consultancy company
Okay, you decided to get your own QA army but it doesn’t perform well, so bugs know your software better than your software testers do. In this case, you need to hire a QA consultancy company. You need these mercenaries to review your current software testing strategy and provide your own team with practical advice about how the testing process can be improved.
As soon as your team learns how to manage quality assurance for your project, the consultants will review your QA strategy once again to make sure that it can really defend your software from bugs. Needless to say, this option is also expensive and applicable only to the cases when you already have your own QA team in-house.
Dedicated QA team
Outsourcing your quality assurance process to a dedicated team overseas is actually a common practice for many reasons. Remote QA specialists concentrate solely on your project, while you can coordinate their work as if they’re your in-house team. Moreover, you can scale your QA team depending on your needs.
Dedicated QA teams usually don’t require much time to hire and onboard. An IT company recruits a QA team exclusively for you, so you don’t have to worry about the hiring process, but you still can interview the candidates. Additionally, outsourcing companies usually onboard QA teams in a matter of days, so you can start your project at your earliest convenience.
However, the time zone difference can be up to eight-nine hours, so you’ll need to wait to get a reply. Still, dedicated QA teams will try to respond to your requests as soon as they can. In the same vein, remote QA teams also deliver their job on time, so your project won’t suffer from delays. Also, dedicated QA team members generally speak English fluently, even though they have a different native language. So, you won’t face any serious miscommunication.
JatApp can provide you with reliable and professional QA team
Notwithstanding the above mentioned benefits, you still need to trust a company that is located overseas. How can you trust them? Are they really professionals? Is the money they request worth spending on their software testing services?
We can’t speak for the entire IT outsourcing industry, but JatApp is a vetted IT company that was involved in over 200 digital projects all over the world. If you decide to outsource your QA to us, you can be confident that we’ll support signing and following all legal regulations that preserve your data privacy and intellectual property rights.
Speaking about how JatApp approaches the software testing process, we always say that the war against bugs is endless because it’s impossible to detect and eliminate them all. We’re honest with our clients as we inform them from the project’s start that we can make their software as clean as possible, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that any errors won’t happen in the future.
This may sound too straightforward, but we think that serving the best interests of a customer means helping them to set realistic goals, especially in such a delicate issue as software quality assurance.
Our testing follows a standard pattern we described above, but we also implement one more step: reporting. When we execute a test and get the test results, we report them to you and decide whether a particular feature requires additional testing after it’s fixed. We repeat this process until the feature works as it should. In such a way, the JatApp QA team ensures that we submit a fully working solution which you can launch safely.
Since we try to engage in testing your software as early as possible, we may need to run various kinds of tests:
- Installation test. This test checks whether software is properly installed and works as it is expected to. We usually run this test before presenting a tested product build to a customer.
- Functional test. It’s a test that focuses on how each feature works. Technical specifications, user flows, and customer specifications form the criteria for these tests. Thanks to a successful functionality test, JatApp managed to implement accurate real-time GPS tracking and mapping features in Fameelee, a family locator app for our client from Latvia.
Tracking and mapping feature in Fameelee
- Non-functional test. This test involves checking such non-functional aspects of software as user-friendliness, capacity load, battery load, and so on.
- Localization test. The test has a specific purpose as it seeks for any problems with how the product follows linguistic and cultural requirements that stem from the location where this software will be used.
- Cross-browser and cross-platform tests. This test checks how the software works with various browsers and operating systems.
- API testing. Application programming interface (API) is a group of protocols and frameworks for connecting one software to another. That’s why API test orients at detection of any problems influencing the connection between the software’s services and processes. Thanks to JatApp’s profound code review, Cunio, a property management platform, managed to expand. The JatApp team eliminated a large number of bugs in the product’s API and then restructured the platform’s architecture, so the client developed new features to successfully pursue the growth of their business.
Cunio user interface
- Regression test. When a particular element of the software successfully underwent testing, it’s also essential to check whether the new functionality works well together with the features that were developed with previous releases. When such a test is required for a single feature, it’s called sanity testing.
- Acceptance testing. As soon as the client gets the solution ready for release, they can run an acceptance test to make sure that the JatApp QA team did a good job as they promised.
That’s how JatApp approaches quality assurance, and it’s one of the reasons why we got 99% satisfaction rates reported by our customers all over the world.
Arm your team with proper software testing tools
You may have gathered your QA troops, but you also need to arm them. So, let’s see what software testing tools your QA team should have:
- Automation testing. When you have a script for automation, you need to run it somewhere. Automation tools can be classified as functional testing and integration/API testing. Functional testing tools run tests related to the layer of user experience. Tricentis Tosca is a relevant example of such testing application. As for integration/API testing, relatable tools work with checking whether API accepts proper data inputs and denies irrelevant ones. IBM Rational Test Workbench is a good example in this case.
Tricentis Tosca interface
- Performance testing. These software testing tools are necessary for testing how software works under different loads on various devices. There are two main types of tools to take into consideration: pure play and extension tools. Pure play tools are narrow-specific and developed by companies that specialize in testing tools only, so they usually provide a deeper testing. Take Blaze Meter as an example. At the same time, a typical extension tool belongs to a vendor that offers various solutions beyond software testing – for instance, IBM Rational Performance Tester.
IBM Rational Performance Tester interface
- Test management. Software testing is a long process, which is why it requires management of time, resources, distribution of responsibilities, and many other tasks that relate to arrangement of quality assurance in general. That is why test management tools are also important, if you intended to set up a proper software testing process. Zephyr is the most common tool in this category.
- Security test. Needless to say, these software testing tools help QA teams to test the security of the software. HP Fortify is considered the best testing application for software security.
HP Fortify interface
- Usability test. Again, the name of these tools speaks for itself. Usability testing tools are necessary for testing user experience, user interface, and other non-functional aspects of the software. Look at Validately as an example.
- Compatibility testing. Tools for compatibility testing focus on checking whether a software is compatible with various platforms, browsers, and devices. Try Browsera to see how such tools work.
- Test setup and infrastructure. This type of software testing tools can perform various functions, so they are often divided into several categories such as test cloud, mobile device farm, test data management, and environment management. Test cloud tools create a virtual network for desktop and web testing at lower cost. As for mobile farms, these tools are necessary for testing mobile applications and their compatibility with mobile devices. Data management tools are needed for an accurate deployment of “proper” test data to databases, so your QA team can use the data for running tests within target environments. Consequently, test environment tools come into play as they automate transition of the software to testing or staging environment.
- Bug tracking. Bug tracking tools significantly simplify search, identification, and bug reporting. Such software testing tools are particularly helpful for making the software testing process consistent because they ensure bug detection on all software layers. FogBugz presents a valid example of a good bug tracking tool.
- Niche testing. A need for narrow-specific QA emerged together with new problems introduced by the Agile methods, DevOps framework, cloud technologies, and such. Today, there are several niches that are the most prominent: test reporting, logging/debugging, crowd testing, and beta management. Test reporting tools make all key testing data standardized and centralized, so it’s easy to communicate with the other stakeholders. Logging/debugging tools gather data about technical and functional defects during production and pre-production stages of software development. Crowd testing tools refer to solutions that use a group of independent QA engineers who voluntarily agree to test the software via web-based testing platforms. Ultimately, beta management tools work with beta testing of the software by gathering feedback from the test participants and providing them with guidance about where and how to test the target software.
Let JatApp join you in the crusade against software errors
For now, you definitely see that bugs won’t leave your product alone, if your software testing process is chaotic and inefficient. Without having a proper quality assurance process in place, your project is likely to suffer serious delays and financial losses.
When you know what a proper QA process should look like, you’re ready to fight. However, you still need to keep improving your software testing process, so we recommend you read our dedicated article about QA best practices as the next step towards becoming a confident bug hunter.
But, you need to defend the lands of your software right now. We have explained why hiring an in-house team is a time-consuming process and getting QA consultancy can get way too expensive. So, outsourcing your QA process is the most reasonable option, especially when you need to roll out your product as fast as possible to win the competition.
JatApp has been providing software testing and quality assurance services since 2015, so we have a profound combat experience in the war against bugs. If you want us to join you in the fight with the hordes of errors and defects, just contact us, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.