How to Avoid These Common Software Testing Problems

June 10, 2021 / by Frederid Palacios

Software testing is crucial to verify the efficiency and success of your systems. If your software is not passing tests, then the time and money spent implementing it are futile. This is pretty standard to recognize, which is why most organizations perform software testing. But, for testing to be useful, it has to be done right. Every test project has a different set of goals and solutions which require the right tools, skills sets, team dynamic, and overall test strategy. With so many factors involved in testing, it shouldn't come as a surprise that issues will arise. Many software development issues occur due to the technical capabilities of toolsets, but the individuals and teams performing these tests are just as crucial to its success. When test projects fail, it can be highly frustrating, mainly if caused by a lack of communication or a reoccurring problem. To help you combat the most common software testing problems, we will outline what a successful test project is and how to complete one.

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First and foremost, teams need to decide on success measurements for any test project. This may be the number of defects you identify, the coverage percentage of your tests, or even increased customer satisfaction. Whatever your measurements might be, they will be valid, but you must establish them before anything else can be done. For your test project as a whole, you should start by outlining a clear set of realistic goals that are agreed upon. Next, you should communicate project objectives to every stakeholder, including decision-makers, testers, business analysts, and developers. Finally, once the project is completed, every stakeholder must agree that the goals have been achieved, so it is clear that you are finished with testing. This should be the case for all test projects, but they are not always prioritized as they should be, which is often why issues occur.  


You Don’t Know Why You’re Testing

Perhaps the most leading cause of testing problems comes from the lack of a clearly defined testing purpose. If your decision-makers do not understand why you are running a specific test and why it helps them, you will have trouble getting the support you need for success. There are five helpful steps to avoiding this problem. First, define your goals in a one-page project proposal. Clearly and concisely defining your goals makes it easy for others to review your plan and see the purpose behind it. Next, illustrate the expected benefits of the project using simple metrics. Following this, get feedback from decision-makers, track the metrics, and then follow-up and share the results. This makes it extremely clear for those involved to see the testing plan, purpose, objectives, and effectiveness.


You Haven’t Agreed on Problems to Look For

The second-largest issue is that your organization has not agreed on specific problems to look for. Not all tests are equal, so the problems you look for in each should be different. You may assume that you have to test everything for each test; performance, usability, business logic, UI standards, all versions of windows and browsers, etc. While you will need to test for many of these, unnecessarily testing for all can be inefficient. To avoid this, again create a one-page summary that outlines what you can and cannot test. List the overarching categories your tests will fall into and share them with stakeholders. This should serve as an executive summary that decision-makers can agree upon before testing starts. A few rules of thumb include; don't agree to test everything, be upfront in what will be tested, document what will not be, and get sign-off from decision-makers.


Building Test Tools Instead of Testing

If you have the time, it can be very beneficial to look for ways to optimize and automate testing. But, if this was not part of your initial plan, it can divert your resources away from the project and waste time. To reiterate: it is good to improve your tools and processes, but not if it substitutes the actual testing process. If you find this happening in your organization, you must get back on track as quickly as possible. Tell your team to put the tool work on hold or schedule dedicated time for tools in a separate project. You should also give them their own summary, goals, and metrics, estimating the resourcing separately to hold them accountable. Additionally, set a minimum requirement for new issues. Tool work is hugely beneficial and essential to improving your future testing, but it can sidetrack a vital project and waste time if it is not planned.  

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Testing the Wrong Things

As mentioned, countless things could be tested for every test project, but you must prioritize specific objectives and stay focused. This can be challenging as priorities may change, which then changes what you test, but it is still important to have a direction in mind. Continuously refer back to the priorities you have set and communicate them daily, ensuring that reports bring back focus to the agreed-upon areas. Even for automated testing, it is essential to monitor it to ensure it stays on track. Overall you should set priorities, track what has been tested and what has changed, review issue reports against priorities, and regularly triage to adjust.


You Don't Know How to Test Properly

Ideally, your organization is equipped with a complete set of trained testers who possess the knowledge to use all of the tools and applications necessary to perform testing. But, while this is expected, it is not always the case. Should you find yourself with testers who do not know how to test, their basic knowledge should be; how to use the platform, perform tasks, verify business processes and logic, and use testing tools. Your organization must set aside time for the team to learn, allowing more experienced testers to teach the less experienced. Alternatively, if you have yet to build your team and want to ensure their expertise, there are a few measures you can take. Requiring test training and test tool training can verify their knowledge, in addition to involving SMEs with testers and developers with testers.


Not Understanding or Reproducing Problem Reports

If your developers are already involved in the testing process but do not understand or cannot reproduce your problem reports, you have a problem. If they can't understand the issue report or reproduce the bug, they can't be expected to fix it. The best way to avoid this problem is to provide your developers with as many details as possible. This begins with reporting the problem, not the solution. You should also involve testers with development as it allows them to see the other side of the project, which will help with communication in the future. Hand-in-hand with this is pair testing in which a tester and developer sit side-by-side.  


Your Tested System Isn’t Testable Enough

The final issue that you may encounter is that your tested system isn't testable enough. You may think that everything can be tested, which is the case. But, if developers work with you to make it more testable, then testing can be more robust. To avoid this issue, avoid QA early in the cycle. This can be done by getting in line with development from the start. You should also include QA when choosing new components, ensuring that they are all testable. It's also important to consider the tools you are using, so test new software tools with automated testing tools and have developers use the same testing tools as QA. Additionally, just as you should for other issues, ensure that your developers and testers are working together throughout the entire test project to ensure fully cohesive testing and maximized testability.

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Tags: Quality Assurance, Software Development

Frederid Palacios

Written by Frederid Palacios

Fred Palacios is a seasoned software architect with more than 20 years of experience participating in the entire software development cycle across a host of different industries--from automotive and services to petroleum, financial, and supply chain. In that time, his experience working closely with high-level stakeholders has provided him with a strategic vision for developing the right solutions to flexibly meet critical business needs. As CTO of Intertec, he's continuing to focus on the creation of business-critical applications for large enterprise projects, particularly those that handle high concurrency and large datasets. He is passionate about using technology as a tool to solve real-world problems and also mentoring technical teams to achieve their maximum potential and deliver quality software.

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