When you are running a business, there are always lots of things you have to juggle. Before committing to using any new piece of software or hardware, you need to ensure compatibility. If a piece of software is not compatible with hardware (or vice versa), it will have an impact on what is running, when, and why. Issues and glitches within software and hardware need to be promptly identified and rectified. Of course, you will also find that software testing and quality assurance are very important when you are looking at making any new purchase, but why? What can you get from the process, and what are your expectations?
What Testing Will Cover
Firstly, it is important to establish just what testing is going to be covering. Is testing going to cover the updates a new piece of software has to offer? Or is it going to be looking for issues or bugs that it can expose? If you are not aware of what testing is going to cover, then how are you going to assess and establish if your needs have been met? If you have specific requirements for a piece of hardware or software, you need to make sure it meets (and exceeds) these where possible. When you can establish markers for testing, you then have something that you can reference. Without these markers, how are you going to establish if a piece of software or hardware is right for your needs and for your business?
Useful Point: Before any testing begins, establish what minimum requirements you will expect to see and at what point. Tests can last for minutes, or they can last for hours, and you need to identify key spots that you can monitor and then track in the future.
Exposing Potential Bugs or Issues
When testing is taking place, it is important to expose potential bugs or issues in the software. These can have an impact on any hardware they are linked to. So, the earlier bugs and issues can be spotted, the quicker they can be ratified. If bugs or issues are spotted early on in the testing process, you will find that costs can be kept lower. You will also find that it will help to identify any future bugs or issues that could develop as a result of those ones that have been uncovered early on in the process. Potential bugs or issues are going to have an impact on how software or hardware performs, and it will impact the speed. This is an area that all testing is going to have to prioritize.
Useful Point: Looking for common issues and bugs is a good place to start when testing. Testing software on several devices and monitoring it at regular intervals will help you see where issues are occurring.
The Processes Involved
To get software testing carried out correctly and to ensure expectations are met with quality assurance, there has to be consistency at all levels. Identical processes must be followed for consistency, and they must be applied to each piece of software that is tested and each piece of hardware or device it is tested on. Creating a testing plan and having a testing strategy in place is going to ensure consistency is achieved at all times. Also naming each device or piece of hardware that testing will take place on will allow you to track and monitor results. This is going to allow you to see instantly where issues are occurring.
Useful Point: Make sure that software is tested on all platforms. This will be a lengthy process, but you have to ensure the software works seamlessly over several platforms. As you are testing on all platforms, you may find that there are errors with the endurance or usability on one device/piece of the testing device but not on another.
Testing and assurance will always play an important role, but you must make sure that performance is not overlooked. You may find that some pieces of software can work well and even perform well initially, but performance can taper off over a period. Performance can also vary depending on what device software is used (or tested on). To monitor performance, you need to have a strategy in place. A strategy that follows a standard set of procedures or rules will help you identify where weaknesses exist and issues exist. Performance must be monitored and checked with every update that is added or with each new device that is used. Performance needs to be checked and monitored at many points through a test or throughout a minimum running time. If performance is only inspected at the beginning (or end) of a piece of software, then there is a large space for errors.
Useful Point: Observation and analytics will come in useful when you are monitoring performance. You can monitor a piece of software as it is running, but you need to make sure that you can assess the results and analytics after a test has concluded. If you do not have sufficient data or analytics to look at, then performance may not be improved the next time around, or a piece of software may end up being altered unnecessarily.
All software and even hardware have to be assessed for performance and quality. All processes must be monitored and assessed to ensure that conformance to standards is guaranteed. If standards are not met or even exceeded, then software and hardware are not going to fit for purpose either now or moving forwards. To guarantee quality assurance, processes, and best practices will have to be employed. The strategies that you use will have to be employed and used across all platforms and devices you test on. If there are continuity issues, it will affect quality scores and ratings.
Useful Point: You want to always give customers and end users the best software and hardware, and you want to ensure that development can be continued in the near future. To ensure this happens, you need to create a strategy. A strategy that outlines the processes you will follow (similar to the testing process) can then be readily introduced, used, and followed by all involved.
Testing and Assurance Can Affect Business Purchases
If your business or another business is looking to purchase new equipment, the testing that is carried out will have an impact on what is purchased. All hardware and software have to be compatible and, at some points, interchangeable. For example, if a business (or your business) needs to buy a wide format digital printer, you will want to be sure that it has undergone rigorous testing alongside the software that is used. Business purchases are always considered purchases, and it is essential that testing is carried out to guarantee quality and performance. Businesses do not want to waste time on repurchasing items or fixing items they have recently purchased. So, it is important to invest in testing and quality assurance where you can.
Useful Point: When you are carrying out tests and looking at quality assurance, you may find it useful to reach out to other businesses and business users. Getting insight into other businesses will help you with testing and help you pinpoint what areas you need to start focusing on.
Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD)
If and when changes need to be made to a piece of software, CI and CD will need to be implemented. Both continuous integration and continuous delivery ensure that best practice is used and applied to testing and to software. Code quality is of high importance within any piece of software, and CI/CD work to ensure code quality. If code quality was not of high importance through CI and CD, you may find that software can be compromised at several points. This will then have an impact on quality assurance and on performance. Small changes in code that can be regularly tested are what CI and CD should be focusing on. If big changes are made without regular testing, smaller issues may be overlooked.
Useful Point: CI and CD have to be something that developers and testers embrace readily as it encourages small and frequent changes. If CI and CD are not applied, you may find that developers and testers instead utilize larger strands of code, and this may then have an impact on the performance and quality that is created.
Test Automation – Is It Important?
If test automation is not utilized, you may find that there is a lot of room for human error and mistakes – even if only unintentionally. Test automation can give you swift results and accurate responses to the testing that you are undertaking. It can also automatically review pre-defined codes or strains of code. Test automation may be useful for speed and accuracy. It may also be important and beneficial for analyzing data and results. When test automation is integrated into a test strategy or approach, it means that developers can then focus on improving the code and developing it further. Resources and time do not have to be stretched as much when automation is implemented correctly.
Useful Point: When test automation is utilized, there is greater room and capability for improving quality assurance and performance. This is because developers will be able to see and analyze data clearly. When developers are running tests and trying to analyze data at the same time, they may miss out on small issues or bugs. This may not be a problem, to begin with, but as software development progresses, it may impact performance and quality on other devices.
Should You Outsource Testing?
If you only have one piece of software that requires testing, you may feel that outsourcing is an expense you don’t need. However, is it really this clear cut, as outsourcing testing is not just about the cost, but about time too? When you commit to in-house testing, you find that the process and protocols can become very standardized. This may mean that you overlook smaller issues or bugs without even realizing it. However, when you utilize outsourcing for testing, you see a different approach or series of tests employed. The difference can allow you to get a piece of software thoroughly tested in a more time-efficient manner. You can also find that the credentials of those you are outsourcing may be better than those you would use on an in-house basis. This may initially not be of importance, but as you progress through the development of a piece of software, it may become increasingly relevant.
Useful Point: Understand how outsourcing testing can work for you and work for your software. Always look at the benefits on offer and then weigh up the pros and cons before making a firm decision.