12 June 2023

The Fundamentals of Software Testing


Testing IT systems is a standard in every IT company these days. The question is why? Isn't it a waste of time and effort, which our professionals could spend on other projects? We often encounter situations in which test procedures are one of the first elements to be cut from the software development process in order to reduce costs or shorten the project's work schedule. Such a strategy does not have the intended effect; on the contrary, it almost always has the opposite effect.

In this article, I will attempt to explain why application testing is one of the most crucial elements of a software house's activity.

What is the risk?

Let's say a client orders a specific software application from company X, but making it work takes a long time and a lot of work from a team of programmers. The work is very dynamic, with no stops and no tests. The specialists working at the company know very well what the client expects of them; they know their expectations and their capabilities. They are not going to waste time checking that everything works as it should. The customer awaits for his dream product, followed by others. What can go wrong? Absolutely anything. The most likely scenario is a disaster.

When realising a project, it is important to keep in mind that high-quality software will only be created if it passes a series of tests at every stage of its development, from the beginning of the work to its end. The time and effort spent on such control is a guarantee that we will catch discrepancies at an early stage of their development.

This protects the project from errors and from a situation in which the system does not meet the requirements of the contract and, as a result, becomes unusable. Such a surprise would not only be tantamount to a financial loss but also an image disaster. Remember that a good relationship with a client who is looking for a good software house is built on trust. If the customer feels that your IT products are consistently and thoroughly examined by a professional team of testers, they are more likely to order another product or a help desk service from you. High-quality software means greater credibility.

Will it pay off?

For the tester to check each implemented function, he or she must go through a series of test scenarios. It is important to realise that their results are not always positive. Therefore, when pricing a task, you should always add a buffer for so-called bug fixing. If you do not do this and the customer comes back with a complaint, you will have to use additional development hours, for which the customer will not necessarily want to pay extra.

In the end, your company will pay extra, and if you are a freelance programmer, you will pay extra with your time, which you could spend on further IT projects and getting new orders.

Read also: How to Build a Software Product That Users Will Really Appreciate?

What should be tested?

Testing is done to make sure that each software feature works as it should and can be used. Documentation, source code, module integration, graphic design, API tests to check how processes talk to each other, load or performance tests, tests to see if they meet current standards, and quality tests are all things that can be checked. Testing can be carried out manually or automatically. In the first case, the responsibility lies with people, and in the second, with tools. In both cases, the most important element is the ability to prepare suitable test paths so that the selected function is covered by as many test cases as possible.

It is also important to remember that some tests require IT professionals that are not easily perplexed. Efficiency in detecting errors, even the smallest ones, is an important characteristic. Sometimes a bug is deeply hidden, and only an attentive tester can find it.

And what about the public?

Every application, regardless of its purpose, should be user-friendly. Therefore, only technical specialists can be involved in its testing. Software that is still in draft form is put into the hands of people who are not closely involved in its production. This is known as the testing ground, where the usability of the solution under development is tested under combat conditions. This is where we find out whether the application is intuitive and, above all, whether the user will have problems with its operation.

This type of testing is usually based on observing and analysing the behaviour and opinions of external users who have received the software at various stages of development. It would be better if these were not random people. Before selecting specific people, quite precise targeting should be done based on the preferences and interests of those users. The idea is to select testers who might be interested in using a particular solution. The result of usability testing is a detailed report with comments, objections, and suggestions made by the first users.

In short, the goal of application testing is to make sure that errors don't happen at any stage of application development. An early detected error reduces the time of software delivery, reduces costs, and increases the quality of the product. Skipping this procedure is a lack of professionalism and, above all, a gamble that has no place in any type of business.

Aleksandra Dreszer
Project Manager