Software Product Testing Strategy and Best Practices
Chances are, you know a thing or two about testing and its vital importance to software quality. We assume that you are already aware that testing is an integral part of the software development life cycle (SDLC), and you know that you can save money by starting it at the early stages of projects.
However, many product teams pay less attention to the strategy of testing than they should, focusing only on tactics and approaches. This may result in wasted development team time, the product not reaching its goals, and overall chaos due to scattered QA procedures.
What we’ll cover here will help you make the most of your QA strategy knowledge. Based on our experience, you`ll keep the testing process in line with the business objectives and enrich the product’s potential through thorough software quality research.
Do you want to understand how each QA team action brings you closer to your IT product development goals? This is where the software product testing strategy will help you, and we will tell you how to create and implement it.
What is a Software Product Testing Strategy?
A testing strategy defines software quality assurance approaches based on project goals. The strategy is a key planning tool, as it allows you to determine what specific actions should be taken and at what time.
Software testing strategies ensure the transparency of development for all project participants, giving an understanding of how testing affects product quality. A strategic vision of quality assurance brings many benefits, not only to the product, but also to its development process. Due to the testing strategy, you can succeed in improving development, mitigating risks, and reducing costs.
QA specialists are responsible for preparing, maintaining, and approving the test strategy, usually involving the entire team. Support of all project stakeholders in implementing the software testing strategy is crucial. The quality of software products whose test strategy is simply a “document for testers” is exposed to additional risks.
No single or universal software testing strategy will suit every project. There is no option to simply fill in a one-size-fits-all table.
Software testing strategies should be created as custom solutions, made according to the project tasks, product specifics, and the team’s needs. Moreover, new and pressing challenges may arise during the project in a dynamic IT environment.
That is why you need to keep your testing strategy up-to-date by regularly updating it. Such an approach requires following software testing best practices, and our article will help you with this.
7 Key Components of a Software Testing Strategy
What does a software testing strategy consist of? What questions does it answer? The product owner does not need to be a testing specialist to understand whether the prepared strategy is an effective software QA tool.
You should make sure that the strategy you are using outlines the business objectives and stakeholder expectations. How? Let’s consider the 7 main elements of a testing strategy:
1. Scope of testing: it is determined which software modules will be tested, as well as types and levels of testing. Additional activities related to software QA, test documents, etc., are specified. Project stakeholders define in this section what scope of testing they consider sufficient to ensure the quality of the developed software.
2. Roles and responsibilities, resource allocation: which resources will be used, setting and prioritization of tasks, rules for distributing tasks and controlling testing, etc. Here we are talking about the principles of forming the workflow of the quality assurance team in this project.
3. Testing environment: the target audience, on which devices, browsers, and operating systems they use the product, the area of coverage and support, etc. A significant part of software testing consists in modeling the user’s behavior, so the parameters of this model and the conditions of use should be as clearly understood as possible.
4. Test toolkit: what tools are needed for each of the implemented processes — for example, test management, automated testing, security testing, and performance testing. The testing team gets from this section of the strategy an understanding of what means it can rely on in its work.
5. Criteria and metrics: under what conditions testing can be started, and the achievement of which parameters allows testing to be considered complete. Test measurements and metrics are also a good idea to mention here.
6. Risk management: identification of possible risks and assessment of the probability of each of them, actions to mitigate risks, and response plans for risks that cannot be avoided. Risks are inherent in quality assurance, as in any type of activity, so the principles of risk management for testing are established here.
7. Project-specific agreements: domain standards, test data and their sources, accepted terminology and principles for team members, release schedule, deadlines, team communication, etc.
If the software product testing strategy doesn’t cover all the stated goals or seems unclear for specific parties, then take this as a signal that the strategy should be refined and revised. For example, we at MobiDev prefer testing strategies that meet the goals set by stakeholders and are transparent and understandable to all parties involved in the project.
Top Five Benefits of a Software Testing Strategy for Product Owners
1. Product quality is ensured precisely through the implementation of the software testing strategy, which should be transparent to the team. The strategy aims to achieve product expectations and constantly give the big picture of quality assurance.
When, during the development of the test strategy, the goals and tasks are clarified, and the risks are defined, the probability of errors in the release version is significantly reduced.
In this way, the potential for further product improvement is enriched.
2. Due to the strategy, the project manager mitigates development risks. A risk focus helps to identify the most likely and impactful risks and consider them as a basis for testing planning. Specialists do not scatter efforts but concentrate them on testing critical components and product features.
3. The testing strategy saves resources. First, by determining the most effective testing methods and procedures, redundant and unnecessary tests can be abandoned. This is how it is possible to reduce the costs of testing and speed up the delivery of the product. Secondly, the accuracy of testing prevents the occurrence of unnecessary losses of time and other resources to correct errors discovered after the product release.
4. Through the development and implementation of the testing strategy, all project participants trace how testing affects product quality. By discussing the strategy and how it will be implemented, team members share ideas about testing planning, scope, and progress. In addition, such a strategy is the basis for understanding and agreeing on the objectives, methods, and results of testing. This makes it better to plan resources, manage expectations and make informed decisions. There are fewer misunderstandings between teammates, and work synchronization is increased.
5. A testing strategy helps to identify gaps and set tasks for their elimination. Because of this, it becomes possible to prevent errors rather than fix them after the fact, putting out fires in an already working product. Thus, the software testing strategy creates opportunities to optimize development, save money, and improve the customer experience.
Software Testing Strategy Guide
The main points of a real example of the best software testing practices adopted at MobiDev will help us navigate this path. Your project may be very different from those implemented by us and have subtleties that will affect development and testing. At the same time, the test strategy creation algorithm that we provide will help you in any type of project. The formation of a QA strategy in software engineering takes place based on the priority of the product’s business requirements. Having realized this, we can take a step further.
What Affects the Creation of a Software Testing Strategy
An exhaustive list of factors that determine the testing strategy can only be formed specifically for each project by delving into its features. However, there are core conditions that should always be researched and considered in all projects, and these are:
1. Project specifics. We are talking about a whole group of factors, including business requirements and product functionality, architectural solutions, the technology stack, and a list of necessary third-party software integrations.
2. The product’s target audience. Understanding the needs and preferences of future software users helps to determine the platforms where it will operate, the interface, etc.
3. Terms. Schedule, intensity, scope of functionality, priorities — all this comes from deadlines.
4. Budget. Allocation of resources based on priorities, cost optimization, and awareness of what can and cannot be afforded in testing on this project – this is what depends on the budget and, at the same time, affects the formation of the testing strategy.
5. Development methodology. The organization of teamwork, the sequence of tasks, and the need to define and verify intermediate development results derive from the project management methodology.
6. Team. The speed and efficiency of development, the range, and distribution of performed tasks, the interaction of teammates in the testing process, etc., are based on the composition of the project team.
A comprehensive study of the main properties of the product and its development project allows you to determine approaches to testing that will be followed in the future.
Perceiving testing as an integral part of development, and QA specialists as an important part of the project team, will significantly advance the product, save time, and line up with stakeholders’ expectations. If the testers are isolated from the rest of the project participants, and they are mentioned only when it is time to conduct another test, then in this way they can only check some features and not ensure the quality of the software. Software development should have a quality assurance culture, and testing is a vital part of that culture.
Empower QA engineers to understand the product’s specifics and your vision of priorities, and then they will propose testing approaches that fit the project context and contribute to successful development. Testing is essential to the product development life cycle. The preparatory stage for the formation of a software quality strategy is the collection of product information.
Case Study: Gathering Product Information for Software Testing Strategy
Let’s look at this stage as a real example. Our team develops and tests a software product for landscaping business owners. During one of the releases, we had the task of integrating our system with a third-party project that provides staff training services.
It is important to note that the third-party service was developed without QA engineers’ allocation. Initially, the client turned to our QA team for help in testing new functionality only. So, developers from both sides took part in the integration. Testers were involved only from our side.
The successful and valuable release showed the result of QA`s involvement in development. Because of this, after release, the customer invited us as an independent testing team to establish a quality assurance process for the third-party training project. But always, when our QA team starts testing, they have questions, many questions.
Based on the interests of the customer, our QA engineers went beyond the initial task. They found not only inconsistencies in the requirements and integration bugs. Test specialists also identified bugs in the third-party product itself, with which the project team integrated the customer’s product. Therefore, it is quite natural that after the release of the client’s product with the integration of a third-party solution, we received an offer to continue cooperation by taking over the testing in the project. As you can see, stakeholders appreciated our QA engineers’ fresh perspective on the product.
Gathering information about the product is a preparation for forming a testing strategy and here are its basic steps.
Step 1. Product Familiarization
It is essential to understand:`
- What is the product’s target audience, and what are their specifics?
- What is the product’s value to end users?
- What is the most important “KILLER” feature(s) of the software?
- What tasks does the product owner set at this stage? Figuring this out is probably the most important thing in this step.
Product familiarization identified shortcomings
- Significant number of bugs in setting up access to free and paid accounts and in payment (problems with card validation, semantic errors in texts for users, unexpected failures in the payment process)
- Poorly designed flows that have errors in pieces of code for the main functionality, which sometimes led to the user being kicked out of the system.
- Script errors in behavior
- Inaccessibility of functionality on some browsers.
- Formation based on market statistics of sets of browsers and OS and their combinations on which the application should work and be supported. With this approach, cross-browser and cross-platform testing will avoid errors in the most popular environments.
- Forming test scenarios. Division of generated scenarios into critical, which are the most valuable to the product and must be guaranteed to work without errors, and minor.
- Negative testing of critical functionality.
- Formation of a plan for the creation of bug reports regarding the functionality of the production version of the software, assessment of the criticality of the identified bugs, and their prevention in future releases.
Step 2. Analysis of the Project Development Process
We conducted our research, successively moving from one phase of the software development to the next. So we thoroughly studied the product requirements phase, estimating and development processes, technical solutions and specifics, release flow, and post-release support.
Let’s summarize the questions and commentaries for each phase:
Product requirements phase:
- Who generates ideas for new functionality?
- What is the division of roles and responsibilities when working with requirements?
- How are requirements formed, and who analyzes them?
- Who conveys ideas for new features to the project team and how is this information communicated?
Commentary: Requirements testing is only one of the stages, the basis of which is not only the understanding of “what the new code should do” but also how this new code will be built into the running system. One must know how the new code will be integrated into existing modules, what are its limitations, and the criteria for the acceptance of the implementation result.
- How is the scope formed for the next release, month, and sprint?
- How does the team know what is on time and what is not?
- How is this information communicated to stakeholders?
- How are development deadlines determined?
Commentary: Not only developers and testers, but marketing and sales teams also are guided by the answers to these questions. It is an important part of daily project work that ensures the predictability of development, timely delivery, and stable releases.
Development phase and technical characteristics:
- What technologies, frameworks, and other tools does the project team use?
- What is the architecture of the project?
- What commit algorithms does the project team use?
- How does the project team work with branches?
- How do deployments take place?
- How are builds delivered?
- What is the infrastructure such as hardware, servers, etc.?
Commentary: This information helps us to understand what stages the new functionality goes through, as well as at what point, and with what tools it can be tested. To competently plan and organize testing, you need to delve into the project’s technological base.
- How does the project team prepare the release?
- What is the release process?
- Who decides that the product is ready for release, and on what basis?
Commentary: As you know, the main principle of testing is that it cannot be exhaustive. That is why it is important to form an understanding of at what stage and under what conditions we decide that the product is ready for release. It is also critical to make sure that all preparations are done and that if something goes wrong, we have a relevant response plan at hand.
Post-release support phase:
- How are post-release bugs handled?
- What kind of debugging workflow does the project use?
Commentary: The number of bugs should always be minimized and even brought to zero. However, if bugs are found, it is necessary firstly to confirm that they are indeed bugs and then assess their impact on the product and users. Therefore, we may need a separate environment, special deployment rules to deal with such bugs, and team member working hours to handle these issues.
The conclusions of this analysis proved to be valuable enough to help shape the product software testing strategy and boost development efficiency.
The conclusions of the development process analysis with relevant practical tips are available via PDF download.
The conclusions of the development process analysis
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Step 3. Product State Assessment
The project we explored is successful and growing. However, it was crucial to understand how well the product met the end user’s perception of quality. That is why our QA engineers conducted exploratory testing of the functionality. Also, our test engineers analyzed existing bugs and their places of accumulation.
The conclusions we made after getting to know the product formed the basis of the testing strategy. Our QA specialists have discovered which software flaws are unacceptable for users, which means that they can become critical for the product. Accordingly, in the testing strategy, we emphasized, among other things, methods of eliminating such shortcomings.
After collecting information about the product and analyzing the stages of development, our QA team identified what exactly could be improved in the software development process, bringing additional value to the project.
Based on the interests of the customer, our engineers went beyond the initial task. They found not only inconsistencies in the requirements and integration bugs. Test specialists also identified bugs in the third-party product itself, with which the project team integrated the customer’s product. Therefore, it is quite natural that after the release of the client’s product with the integration of a third-party solution, we received an offer to continue cooperation by taking over the testing in the project. As you can see, stakeholders appreciated our QA engineers’ fresh perspective on the product.
Proposals were prepared by MobiDev specialists and served as ready-made building blocks for assembling a software product testing strategy.
Forming Software Testing Strategy
Next, the members of the project team from our side formed a software testing strategy according to the structure that was mentioned above in this article.
After consideration and discussion, the stakeholders approved the strategy. Significantly, joint efforts managed to clarify the following important goals and expectations, without the clarity and relevance of which, it would be difficult to move forward:
- Business goals: Gaining a more stable market position, increasing the client base through cooperation with companies in the field of landscape design. A high level of software quality is the main competitive advantage that should be provided for this.
- Expectations from joining the project of the testing team: Stable, trouble-free operation of the functionality, ensuring timely and predictable deliveries, minimizing the number of bugs that would be discovered by users after the release.
The project was running at all times, so it was impractical to stop the development and violate the release schedule set by the product owner. Therefore, the project team iteratively implemented all the improvements provided for by the product software testing strategy. For this purpose, we ranked our proposed actions by priority.
Now that this path is behind us, we can already say that the implementation of the testing strategy required 3 iterations, which were carried out over a year.
Best Practices for Applying a Software Testing strategy
Let’s trace how the data obtained from the analysis of the product and its development project are transformed into specific actions for ensuring software quality.
Impact of Testing Strategy on Software Development Project Workflow
Our specialists have created, constantly updated, and shared among the project participants a knowledge base about the product and, in particular, the new functionality that is being developed. Due to such a base, all co-workers are aware of what the team is currently working on, and have studied the changes that are being prepared and the current product requirements. From now on, the project team can more easily calculate in advance the impact of changes on other parts of the software, as well as the associated risks.
- The project team streamlined work on requirements, and creation of test documentation, and also introduced a thorough consideration of the functional testing process. As a result, many issues came into focus that neither stakeholders nor developers had thought about before.
- Project participants began evaluating the new functionality from the point of view of testing and discussing release terms. Therefore, it became easier to set reasonable intermediate and final deadlines, control them, and also respond to changes in time.
- Our test engineers have added testing environments and formalized work with them. Now the PM has a clearer picture of functional readiness and distributes work on different tasks so that team members do not block each other. This is how we accelerated the team’s work and minimized conflicts within it.
- Additional helpful forms of intra-project communication have been introduced in the form of feature demos, demos for stakeholders, and retrospectives. Thus, we have achieved better coordination, more effective communication, and coordinated decision-making.
PRODUCT GAIN FROM TESTING STRATEGY IMPLEMENTATION
Collecting feedback is a compulsory practice at MobiDev. The product owner, whose software we consider as an example, characterized the positive dynamics of changes in the project, and highlighted the following:
- Release predictability improvement as stakeholders always see the latest product status based on input from the testing team. In such a situation, it is easier to plan marketing activities and conduct sales.
- Preparation of releases has become faster and goes more smoothly, according to the previously approved plan. Now it is always known in advance which parts of the software are being tested, by whom, at what time, and under which scenario. Immediately after such releases, it becomes clear whether the critical functionality works.
- Release quality stability also improved due to the software testing strategy. The need for hotfixes at the time of release has disappeared. The number of bugs in the software`s production version has been reduced. Therefore, the operation of the upgraded product coincides with the expectations of end users of the new functionality.
Measurability is essential in software QA. We sought to evaluate how, as a result of the implementation of the testing strategy, the quality of deliveries improved. The dynamics of the calculated metrics coincided with the product owner’s conclusions.
One of the relevant indicators is the release delay time. According to this metric, the result of joining the software testing team to the project looks like this:
Also, a metric that speaks volumes is the number of critical bugs found on the release day.
In addition, we measured the number of bugs found in the production software within a month from the release date.
Today, after several successful releases, we continue to work on improving the culture of product quality assurance. Our specialists are now writing Automated Tests to cover critical functionality, catch bugs at early stages and shorten the testing cycle.
Before MobiDev, we did not have an effective QA program. MobiDev took time to understand our needs and assigned key QA team members to build a software testing strategy for us. With the help of MobiDev testing experts, our latest release was one of the best by minimizing the number of bugs and issues.
Customizing Testing Requirements to Achieve Product Goals
The currently available technological arsenal of software quality assurance methods allows for finding relevant answers to almost any development challenge. Experienced teams quickly set up testing based on the business objectives established by the product owner.
We regularly communicate with the product owner to clarify the project’s current priorities. Accordingly, when implementing software testing strategies, we focus on those testing features that best fit the declared priorities. See how we customize testing for business goals in software development projects at MobiDev.
The QA professionals at MobiDev can both set up testing for new software development and upgrade it for your operating product. Thanks to our testing specialists, you will always know the real current product status and, therefore, how to proceed.
Working with a software testing strategy, MobiDev`s QA engineers are not firefighters who save releases at the last moment. They act as skilled maritime pilots who help steer your project on course, avoiding the pitfalls that are so frequent in software development. Contact our experts to guarantee the quality of your software product.