Modern day software release cycles are not limited to periodic releases. Independent software testing companies have developed competency & capabilities to release upgrades & changes on a daily basis to their software code and there are deployment tools present in the market that support continuous integration. The expectations from a testing team are grueling in such environments, especially when there is more agile work expected and effective identification of defects across touch points is the call of the day. Speedy testing combined with accuracy and 100% defect free product is the demand of the day and customer expectations become more extensive.
Agile testing techniques combined with process improvements have shortened the overall software development life cycle along with testing, keeping testers in a constant pressure to test in little time and QA teams strategize to keep up with the demands.
The challenges are unique and need to be combated with prudent strategy.
No exploration possible
The assurance team is in no position to conceptualize exploratory testing. Testers will only rely on requisite functional tests and ready to use scripts.
With time crunch, there are restrictions on the number of meetings, synergizing with developers, discussing the test scenarios & intermediate results with all IT stakeholders, validation on requirement mapping via discussion at time of testing etc.
The environment, or available testing platform is subjected to a significant number of tests in a short period of time. If this beats previous estimations, then the output may not be stable, and the product may behave differently when deployed in production.
For appropriate testing, it is recommended that “production like” environment is setup by the independent software testing companies continually during test phases. However, it may be difficult to simulate production-like data in current environment due to time crunch. Refreshing or importing data, and then tailoring the conditions to reflect production is a time-consuming affair.
Customers who have limited IT exposure may enforce sudden resource increase. Overnight ramp-up of qualified testers may prove to be a challenge. If the team is ramped-up with less skilled resources just to distribute the sudden surge of workload, the testing process itself may lose effectiveness.
If the product or upgrade to be rolled out consists of significant modules, it is difficult to comprehensive cover all test cases & scenarios. This may result in erroneous software getting rolled out if the selected sample under test fails to reveal bugs that are actually part of the product.
QA team confidence
The organization or IT service provider’s QA team, which normally performs in an optimum fashion, exhibits a dent in their confidence levels. This is because the team is in no position to state that the wide variety of testing performed in limited time frame is comprehensive and has revealed all possible issues & bugs within the software.
A correct strategy is half the battle won for modern day software testing consultancy services!
It is vital to baseline the effort required for comprehensive testing, factoring manual & automation aspects along with available tools, at the time of analyzing requirements and designing the test strategy. Appropriate estimation will ensure that the QA team has the optimum time available for testing unless there is major deviation in scope or baseline requirements. While estimating, it is important to consider historical data & trends for similar kind of testing projects that the organization or IT service provider has executed in the past.
Rely on automation
Optimal utilization of test automation tools will lend an edge to the software rollout strategy proving that working smart and not hard is the new age mantra. Automation not only saves time at the time of actual testing, but also reduces preparatory time. Most automation tools come with pre-defined test scenarios that are easy to program in current environment.
Status reports can be replaced by daily stand up meetings, or fixed discussion slots involving all stakeholders. This will improve tester’s productivity and ensure requisite information dissemination. At the same time, measuring progress is vital and the assurance lead should have strong control over the same.
Give importance to financial impact
If the assurance team feels that comprehensive testing is not an option in the allotted time frame, they can collectively take a call, based on approval of the project sponsor to take up areas with high financial impact. Modules or components that have high visibility or are high revenue churners should be covered in the test plan first.
Keep a tab on changes
Assurance team needs to keep a close eye on what modules are changing as compared to the last code release. Although full product testing is recommended to understand the overall impact to user experience, in some cases, the teams can just work upon the modules or components that underwent changes after the last release. This can only be possible if change management & configuration management processes are appropriately adhered to across the organization.
No time frame is too small to ignore the importance of testing, at the same time, lack of planning may result in testing being a never ending, repetitive process. Agile techniques are the call of the day, and lean processes will go a long way in allowing QA teams test more amount of code, modules, components and products as compared to traditional, age-old waterfall processes.
Estimation & test scenario planning are vital aspects that will shape up the overall testing strategy of the organization.
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