Software testing challenges and survival tips
“If you don’t care about quality, you can meet any other requirement”
Gerald M. Weinberg
Software testing has never been a walk in the park. It demands expertise in software development, users’ behavior, the software under test architecture, stakeholders’ requirements, and programming knowledge.
Quality teams know firsthand how challenging it is to ensure software quality when its architecture is becoming more complex and teams are releasing at a pace faster than ever. Read on to explore what is software testing, its challenges, and how to overcome them.
What is software testing?
Software testing is a process where an application under testing (AUT) is going through rigorous evaluation and assessment to make sure that it satisfies all predetermined requirements.
Quality assurance in software development is of disputable importance. One can only be confident in the release of the software after it has gone through multiple stages of testing which are designed to make sure it has achieved the desired functionalities and requirements.
For developers, having their products adequately tested early and often reduces the time and effort required to fix critical bugs in later stages. For project managers and business owners, a well-functioning, and robust app means higher customer satisfaction and retention.
3 challenges in software testing
Challenge #1: Dealing with time constraints
Although it is generally agreed that testing is critical and Agile software testing incorporates testing earlier and more often, quality engineers are still facing the pressure of having too much to test, with too little time. The time constraints will affect not only the quality of the AUT but also the work-life balance of quality engineers.
In our annual State of Quality Report, 39% of quality engineers identified lack of time as a common challenge they face when delivering high-quality software. The constant stress of not being able to achieve desirable test coverage nor keep up with release date will wear out any quality engineer in the long run.
Challenge #2: Cross-team collaboration and communication
How information flows between software developers and quality engineers will determine the results of testing. Since insufficient communication or the lack thereof will disconnect the test cases from the AUT’s actual requirements, the time and effort in quality assurance will go to waste as it was not relevant to the testing goals.
User journeys, functional and business requirements, exit criteria for each stage, etc. are some of the most critical aspects that need to be established and communicated right from the beginning.
Communication and interpersonal skills are crucial to advance in your career as a software tester. Effective communication is needed internally within your QA team and externally, with developers, project managers, and your clients, as well.
Due to the nature of their work, information delivered by quality engineers is usually met with a defensive reaction. Nobody likes to receive a bug report or hear about errors in the product they made, so the way a tester communicates should be precise, professional, and constructive.
Similarly, you also need to be an active listener, a team player, and a problem solver to be able to work with multiple personalities, seeing in various perspectives of users, etc.
Challenge #3: Maintaining the documentation
Quality teams will refer to the documentation as a “single source of truth” to help them navigate users' and stakeholders' expectations, criteria, and added requirements. Therefore, it should be carefully and consistently updated after any meeting or verbal discussion.
Keeping the documentation updated will help both quality and software engineers stay focused on the priorities and not waste time on developing and testing discarded features. Furthermore, documentation inaccuracies lead to a distorted view of the product requirements, making it difficult to develop business-critical and strategic test cases.
4 software testing tips to help you overcome the challenges
Software testing tip #1: Speed up the testing process with automation
To break the cycle of time constraints - inadequate testing - delayed release, automation is the most obvious and effective solution teams turn to. Test automation helps you achieve more with less time, and ensures the release date commitment without compromising quality. Tedious and repetitive tasks can be automated so that skilled quality engineers can focus on more complex and business-critical test cases.
With the right approach and software quality management platform, teams can apply automation to accelerate quality assurance significantly.
- Reduce hundreds of hours on manual regression testing to only 5-6 hours
- Reduce test script generation time by 60%
- Increase test coverage, improve productivity, and teams’ throughput
Software testing tip #2: Improve visibility internally and externally
The misalignment between teams can be diminished with consistent meetings with the attendance of the product manager. It is important to have these meetings at a fixed cadence to keep every team member updated on any changes. Quality engineers can then create or update their test cases to best match the product’s requirements.
However, meetings can be time-consuming, repetitive, and insufficient. Meetings are not always the best option with a global team that has members across different time zones. This is when a software quality management platform comes into play.
Using a comprehensive quality management platform can help increase visibility across teams with ease. For instance, the Katalon Platform offers built-in reporting tools, with dashboards, analytics, and actionable insights that can propel cross-team collaboration with minimal maintenance and configuration.
Software testing tip #3: Improving your communication and interpersonal skills
Workplace communication is complex, but for a tester, it is especially intricate. Some of the few rules of thumb are
- Know your audience: Although what you are delivering is factual, the way you communicate that should vary depending on the personality, role, timing, and current situation.
- Reach common ground: Everybody's perception of quality might be different. It is not helpful to argue but rather to reach common ground about the desired outcome of quality beforehand.
- Take pride in your work: It’s quite discouraging to be met with defensive and adverse reactions from multiple parties in the organization, as a bug report can delay the release date, and increase the workload for some team members. Still, your responsibility as a tester is to ensure quality and user satisfaction. Don’t let your fear affect the professionalism and integrity of your work.
Software testing tip #4: Keeping the documentation up-to-date and accurate
Obvious as it may seem, it is necessary to stress the importance of keeping the documentation updated in detail after any verbal or non-verbal discussion with your stakeholders.
It would be helpful to share the responsibility among different team members, and have everyone committed to updating and reviewing at a predetermined time of day. Teams can also send messages or emails every time the documentation is updated to get everyone notified.
Types of software testing tools
If automation is part of your strategy, the test automation tools you acquire will determine the success of the project. Read on for tips on choosing test automation tools that serve your team best.
The software testing lifecycle includes requirements analysis, test planning, test case development, environment setup, and test execution. Due to the differences of each phase, it is common to build an entire test automation ecosystem out of multiple single-purpose tools. A combination of said ecosystem normally consists of the following:
- A test management system to plan, track and analyze testing activities
- Various test types specific tools to author and execute unit, integration, regression, etc. tests
- Bug tracking tools
- Testing tools for specific environments and platforms (mobile, desktop, API, web) or operation systems (Windows, macOS, Linux) and mobile operating systems (Android, iOS)
- Visual testing tools designed to test for the UI layer of the application under test
- Data analytics tools to assess the data from the testing pipeline and draw actionable insights
No matter if you are an experienced quality engineer or a beginner tester, maintaining, learning, and integrating multiple tools with different purposes and architecture adds so much friction to automation. Eventually, teams find themselves giving up on test automation and returning to manual testing.
How The Katalon Platform can help
Katalon is a single, powerful quality management platform that was made to streamline the software testing lifecycle. It is a one-stop solution for API, desktop, mobile, and web application testing.
The Katalon Platform can assist you with test planning, authoring, organization, execution, and analysis. Its native integrations with the most common CI/CD tools allow you to work with your favorite tools right away without further configuration.
For testers who are not familiar with programming, Katalon is a game changer that accelerates their test automation skills. With its low-code and full-code scripting modes, you can create scripts however you like, no matter the coding experience.
Get started with the Katalon Platform
Need more information? Our detailed and up-to-date documentation is here to help you discover more. Or visit the Katalon Forum, where you can join our community of over 20,000 members to discuss, connect and learn.