In today’s digitized world, many industries automate their operational processes and customer service with enterprise software solutions to streamline workflows and increase revenues. Also, humanity uses a broad range of programs for entertainment, learning, and simplifying day-to-day routine. As technology penetrates all areas of our lives, we demand high power and advanced functionality from our digital assistants.
Software becomes increasingly complex and, therefore, more prone to bugs and outages. Manufacturers need to detect potential risks and vulnerabilities and implement adequate protection. QA specialists check different components and features of digital products for resilience and compatibility with client requirements at all software development stages. As a result, IT companies release smoothly running and secure products.
Testing methodologies applied within each project depend on the purpose and characteristics of the digital solution and the peculiarities of the development process. In this article, we will consider the most common options that every proficient QA engineer must be aware of. They are divided into two groups that are equally important and complement each other – functional and non-functional testing approaches.
Functional QA Methodologies
Procedures within this group aim to ensure that the product successfully copes with the tasks bestowed upon it at the project planning stage. QA specialists evaluate the software’s performance on a client-side without delving into internal processes and the code structure. A live environment is simulated to observe the response to user actions.
You need to evaluate the standalone performance of software units before assembling them into a full-value system. It is much easier to fix errors in individual components than look for the source of the problem if an entire product fails.
Unit tests can be written and executed by software developers without involving a QA team. Their simplicity allows for performing the entire scope of work manually. However, most modern software testing company take advantage of automated tools to accelerate the process and increase accuracy, preventing human error.
You assemble individual components into functional modules and test unit interactions. For example, you can check whether processes such as downloading files or logging in to the app run seamlessly. Both developers and QA specialists can execute integration tests, manually or with automation tools.
System-level testing analyzes the synchronous performance of functional modules. QA engineers ensure that the product provides all the functionality requested by the client and accomplishes the end goals of software development. A testing team focuses on the output without scrutinizing the processes that underpin its generation.
The product is presented to a testing group that provides feedback on user experience and compliance with project requirements. QA specialists also evaluate the software from the standpoint of a user. Upon approval, the product can be deployed to production.
Non-Functional QA Methodologies
Software testing techniques within this group explore internal processes hidden under the surface available to users. Non-functional procedures scrutinize all the details omitted in the above-mentioned steps, providing a comprehensive estimate of the product’s performance, reliability, and security.
Different scenarios are simulated to determine the product’s point of failure, behavior under unusual conditions, and the degree of its reliability and responsiveness. The following techniques fall under this category:
- Load testing. The load on the software is increased to find out whether it can handle the demand exceeding its standard capacity.
- Stress testing. The load is increased until the product fails, to determine critical demand.
- Endurance testing. The duration of the experiment is extended (compared to load testing and stress testing that take a couple of hours), to check how long the product can maintain stable function in a stress mode. This procedure is often performed to detect memory leaks.
- Spike testing. Similar to load testing but involves stronger and more rapid demand bursts.
Many modern software products use databases hosted on cloud servers, which increases the vulnerability of their data. Advanced security measures and thorough testing are needed to protect your digital solutions from constantly evolving hacker attacks.
Security tests are designed to find weak points in the product’s protection system, prevent unauthorized access and data loss. QA engineers check software for non-repudiation, the integrity and confidentiality of the information used by the system, and the availability of proper authorization and authentication mechanisms.
This methodology can be used concurrently with system and acceptance testing. The product is evaluated for aesthetics, convenience, and responsiveness from a user perspective. Testers make sure that the design aligns with and supports functional processes, making the client interface more intuitive and user-friendly.
The product is tested in different browsers, on different operating systems and platforms, to ensure that all features work equally well regardless of the environment.
Waterfall vs Agile
You are more likely to stumble upon Waterfall and Agile in the context of software development. But they have a direct impact on how testing is performed.
With Waterfall, tests are executed after the completion of each development phase. Developers do not move to the next phase until a testing team confirms that everything works well. The actions of all involved parties are predetermined at the planning stage, ensuring transparent and straightforward workflows. However, the inability to proceed to the new development phase earlier than you receive a signal from testers extends the project timeline. Also, it is challenging to adjust if client requirements unexpectedly change.
Agile is a more flexible approach. Testing follows short development phases (sprints). QA procedures are thorough and comprehensive and allow for faster detection of vulnerabilities. A testing team is constantly involved in the project, in contrast to Waterfall where QA engineers can undertake multiple projects and return to them when software developers complete work on a certain phase.
Tailoring a Testing Strategy
After you decide on the scope of QA methodologies to be used within the project and their place in a general software building process, you need to build a testing strategy, a document that will guide your team. Consider the following details:
- roles and timeline for all testing procedures
- testing environment
- testing data backup
- required open-source and paid technologies
- whether automation tools will be used
- testing metrics that the software must score to be deemed ready for delivery
Now you know about different testing methods and can tailor an effective QA strategy for your project. Always stay abreast of the latest updates and trends, since QA is a rapidly developing field replenished with new technologies and tools as requirements change in the software market.