How important is software testing and quality assurance? Here are 4 strong factors.

What was once carried out on the side by mainstream software developers back in the day, testing every aspect of the software developed by a team has now transformed into a competency in itself – and all for a good cause. While software development alone has rapidly advanced to meet the needs of today’s highly demanding technology generation, so has software testing.

In fact, complete teams exist within development teams that solely focus on pointing where the bugs are, and whether the product at hand is successfully meeting the objectives that it is being built for.

On top of that, the quality assurance dedicated to every software project be it big or small is given high priority, unlike the side hustle that it was before. For instance, the software outsourcing market is saturated with clients that are requesting for quality assurance alone, so much so that professional UI/UX designers and/or programmers are tasked with performing quality checks.

The industry of software development in Sri Lanka is also no exception, as it has been receiving numerous projects of a similar nature from clients all over the world. The following 4 pointers delve deeper into why and how software testing has become such an important requisite when it comes to developing any form of software, including websites and mobile apps.

1. Attains business objectives

Whether you are a client who has sourced the services of a software development company, or are a project manager who needs to ensure that your software needs to be delivered successfully, you need to ask yourself one crucial question throughout the whole development process:

Why am I working to build this software in the first place?

This question will lead you to answer the objectives you need to achieve, via your all-new piece of working software. How does this tie in with software testing, you may ask? There is an integral connection between the business objectives that a new piece of software is supposed to meet, and its quality assurance practices.

In order to ensure that the software performs exactly what it was meant to do, quality assurance personnel will constantly monitor every feature that’s designed and developed throughout the duration of the project – and not just when a beta version is available. This is so that programmers and designers can be alerted if any deviations are present amidst any of the features being built.

A key item to remember when it comes to software testing is that faults pertaining to business requirements are much harder to rectify, than technical glitches. Therefore, ensuring that the software is in line with business objectives during the early stages can save companies time, money and frustration in the future.

2. Works correctly

Apart from making sure that the software meets your business objectives, technical faults can still render delays or the absence of deliverables. Such glitches can come in many forms, from system crashes to even something detrimental such as a loss of data. Security also matters, and considering today’s highly sensitive data environments and how often cyber breaches are taking place, establishing robust, bug-free software is a no-brainer.

This is something else that the quality assurance team for your software shall also place priority on. While technical faults may undergo troubleshooting during the latter stages of software development and may not be as challenging as their requirement-based counterparts, it is imperative to fix them nonetheless.

3. Early bug-fixing - to save time, effort and money

While this closely correlates to the 2 pointers elaborated above, quality assurance specialists are required to save precious time, money and resources by fixing bugs as early as possible. This is why quality assurance specialists that exclusively test software exist today; with tight budgets and fierce competition, clients and agencies alike want to establish strong footholds by releasing software that is efficient, feasible and scalable simultaneously.

4. Quality UI/UX for the user

While you have integral business objectives that you aim to attain, they cannot be achieved without the participation of your target customers. As the right software empowers you to hit your bottom line, it will concurrently delight your users so that they continue to engage with your brand through your software/website/app.

The software testers in your team once again determine whether the front-end interfaces, navigations and functionalities are smooth and convenient enough to interact with. Alternatively, back-end systems that are regularly visited by staff members for updating content also need to be on par, as this signifies the level of usability of your software overall.

Taking a deeper look at software testing

In order to understand how expansive and intricate the field of software testing is, let’s try to understand the different types of software testing available. Which method is used depends on the software being developed, and the varieties stated here aren’t exhaustive.

Starting off, there are 2 main umbrella types of software tests. These are:

1. Functional tests

These are testing methods which focus on the final result that should be obtained, once certain values are entered.

For example, 6 should be the answer if 3 x 2 or 3 + 3 are inputted by the user.

2. Non-functional tests

These testing methods analyse everything apart from resultant values; this includes page loads, download speeds etc.

Most testing methods fall under either of the above categories. Here we highlight 4 of the main testing types that are conducted for software, and usually in the order that they are stated:

Unit testing – examining each unit (which is the smallest component of any software) individually.

Integration testing – examining a collecting of units to learn whether they are performing as expected.

System testing – examining the system as a whole to ensure that the software is once again performing as expected.

Acceptance testing – the final step of the testing process, also known as UAT (User Acceptance Testing) in short. This is carried out by involving the client and showing them that every aspect of the software is functioning as per business requirements, followed by the sign-off of a formal agreement that releases the software to the client or its users, as applicable.

Other forms of testing may also be included, such as:

Smoke testing – a preliminary testing method that only examines the most important working parts of a software. If any of these components malfunction, it is a sign that any further testing isn’t viable, and these components need to be fixed first.

Load testing – determines how much pressure a system can handle based on any excesses delivered.

Stress testing – giving the software way more than it is expected to handle, in order to see how it reacts.

Compatibility testing – checks whether the software can work harmoniously with different forms of hardware and other software, such as varying operating systems and their versions.

Regression testing – if a change is made to any part of the software, regression testing is carried out to see whether other parts that depend on that particular component are affected.

There’s another variation that can be used to define software testing methodologies too.

Black box testing – focuses on the final outputs that the software is supposed to deliver, without having any knowledge about internal structures, such as the code. Black box testing can therefore be carried out by those who have no knowledge in coding.

White box testing – observing final outputs that the software generates, while having thorough knowledge of internal working processes, such as the code. For this reason, white box testing can only be carried out by those who can understand the code, such as programmers.

In conclusion…

The field of software testing is an integral part of any software development lifecycle, unlike the ad hoc task that it used to be regarded as several years prior. It’s an area that has comprehensively evolved to ensure that any form of software meets required standards, all the while being scalable and budget-friendly.

Contrary to popular belief, software testing does much more than simply troubleshoot your piece of software. It provides many other benefits, such as:

- Saving time, money and effort by fixing bugs early on in the development process,

- Creating desirable UI/UX for the target customer,

- Ensuring every unit of the software is bug-free.

With so many different types of testing methodologies available today, it is now possible to ascertain that any software that is released meets the requirements of any business or consumer precisely, and as intended. It also goes to show that software testing is now a field that is extensive and intricate, and something that only subject matter experts can tackle, unlike before.

Technology may be dominating every aspect of our lives, but it is useless if there is no software powering any device, or the presence of software that is sub-par. What’s more, today’s technology is meant to be stand-alone (think IoT), which means that its respective software needs to function at peak performance well after it has been implemented.

That is why testing softw¬are appropriately, comprehensively and intuitively can enable just that.

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