Software development procedures are changing ever more quickly, at what seems like an exponential rate. This change is good for some, bad for others. One department that is finding this to be quite a nuisance is the quality assurance (QA) and testing department. QA testers track and maintain the quality of software that is based on both the internal and external features of that software. The external condition is determined based on how the software performs in real time scenario operational mode and how useful it is for users. The internal quality looks at the more ‘intrinsic’ aspects, dependent on the quality of the code and, unfortunately for QA testers, has become an easily automated process.
As software development procedures become more complicated and recently invented ones become obsolete, how can QA testers keep up?
- Make sure you are involved in the entire process of the project: With the time and resources a good software development team can try to include as much cross-departmental collaboration as possible from the planning stages until implementation. If your job is QA, try to be a part of this. Understand what is happening the whole time, so that you can understand the procedures used and can test accordingly.
- Should procedures change mid-project, check whether changes are technical or those of the requirements: Most often when this happens, it is the technical details that are subject to change. In other words, the intent of the requirement or behavior of the feature is the same, but implementation details can change. Before adjusting your procedures, it is essential to understand in which of these two you are modifying.
- Separate external from internal testing: To test the internal quality of a software program the QA department sees anything, not in alignment with the customer’s requirements as a defect. But you also need to think like a user to view the defects outside of the code, and technical components that could be a defect in the requirements or the user will find them, and by then it’s too late.
- Keep your eye out for edge case issues: Developers and automated testing programs often miss the edge case issue, but that doesn’t mean you have to. To make sure edge cases don’t escape your grasp, consider which issues customers have recently reported that were not found during the testing phase of that product. Think about the newly implemented features and which areas of the application they might inadvertently have impacted. Use your special knowledge to uncover hard to find issues.
- Think depth over width when searching for issues: Sometimes testers must dig deep into an application’s functional areas to find its defects. Try to pinpoint the areas where you can impact the product by new or changing functions. Take some time to explore those areas. Consider expanding specific existing tests to cover more in-depth testing of that functionality. Try performing end-to-end tests that simulate the actions of the real users.
- Test with the mindset of greater variety: As a QA tester, your testing method needs to consist of more than just validating default settings and repeating the same tests over and over. Your humanity is what gives you an edge over your robot colleagues. Look for various combinations of testing variables to achieve greater test coverage. List out the user scenarios and the configurations that are not usually tested by automated testers or unit tests.
Related Content: 6 Quality Assurance Myths in Software Development
Gone are the days when QA testers got to sit down and save the day, finding bug after bug after bug. Today is the reign of the automated test when software is debugged mostly by the time it reaches the manual tester, and it has happened too fast for QA testers to retire, leaving them struggling to stay relevant in the fast-paced world of software development. But people still have some competitive advantages over computers – it is up to you to find them, and leverage them to your benefit.