Delivering software products in record time is fraught with difficulty. Delivering them error-free seems impossible. In an age when time to market is getting tighter and tighter, it is difficult to maintain software quality while meeting delivery deadlines. Are both possible?
Software testing is the activity that enables the balance to be maintained, facilitating the development needed to deliver quality within deadlines. Do we give software testing the importance it really deserves? Or do we see it as an expense to be reduced whenever possible? Let’s address these issues?
What is software testing?
Simply put, testing is the process whereby we verify and validate that the software runs properly. It may seem a simple task, but software testing is a discipline in its own right within systems engineering, with its own processes, methods and tools.
This is an activity that runs (or should run) parallel to software development. Errors can emerge in all phases of the project and must be identified immediately, preventing them from being carried over into later phases where remedying them will entail greater economic cost and more hours of work.
It should therefore be emphasized that the objective of software testing is not only to detect failures but also to prevent them. Therefore, from the capture and specification of requirements to the conclusion of the project, through each and every intermediate deliverable, appropriate testing tasks must be incorporated to ensure the quality of the product.
The importance of software testing
Generally speaking, we could say that the goal of any software development project is to deliver a product that meets the customer’s specifications and that is of high quality and reliable. But software development projects are complex and there are many points where errors can occur.
An inadequate interpretation when reviewing the requirements, errors in programming due to lack of time or experience, lack of specificity on the part of customers when describing their needs… The list of reasons from which errors can arise seems endless, but this does not exempt us from our obligation to meet the objective of quality and reliability.
Hence the importance of software testing. It is these processes that will allow us to detect possible errors in early stages of development, enabling us to resolve them in time to deliver a quality product within the envisaged deadlines and costs.
Not giving software testing the importance it deserves can have serious consequences. We have highlighted from the beginning of this text how essential it is to perform good testing, so why would a company not give this activity the importance it merits?
In the “battlefield” of the real world there are many unforeseen setbacks: delays in the development phase that force time to be cut from other phases, lack of financial resources for this task, lack of time to carry out all the necessary tests, etc. There are even those who may think that this is an expendable part of the work in order to trim budgets, since it is a “non-productive” task.
Nothing could be further from the truth, since all software testing is aimed at ensuring the quality of the project and avoiding cost overruns due to subsequent modifications. According to an article entitled Error Cost Escalation Through the Project Life Cycle published by NASA, a software error detected at the end of the project is approximately 100 times more expensive than one detected during requirement gathering. So what wiser investment could there be than that devoted to testing?
Automation of testing
The problem we face today in software development is that in many cases it takes more time to test the software than to develop it. As projects grow in size, number and complexity, testing requires more and more resources.
One way to address this is through the use of automated testing. This enables more tests to be processed with the same resources. It’s part of the virtually obligatory ongoing improvement that must be inculcated if quality and delivery times in an increasingly demanding environment are to be continuously maintained.
It’s worth pointing out that the automation of testing does not completely eliminate the need for manual testing, but it eases the QA burden on staff so that they can focus on important tasks that do require human attention. Repetitive, tedious and complex tasks can be performed automatically, increasing productivity while maintaining high test coverage.
Automated tests can detect errors that have been overlooked in manual tests. It is possible to perform regression tests, functional tests or load tests (among others), reducing the time and cost incurred. Moreover, as an added layer of security, you should always consider the option of having the testing carried out by another person, team or even an independent entity, since it is always more likely that one will overlook one’s own mistakes.
Conclusions regarding software testing
Obtaining error-free software is difficult, so good planning and execution of testing is key to preventing bugs from reaching the customer. Investing in this type of process is synonymous with investing in product quality and customer satisfaction. Having a team of testers and tools for test automation is therefore essential in all phases of the project. If you need help in this aspect, please do not hesitate to contact us; we’ll be happy to put all our experience in the automation of software testing at your disposal.