Software Testing: The Most Common Mistakes

Although software testers are charged with finding errors in the code, they’re sometimes subject to errors themselves. Those errors can lead to extended QA time, delays in completing quality assurance (QA), and subsequent delays in handoff for UAT.

In some cases, these common errors might lead to missed problems, misalignment, or miscommunication. When we take time to collect and analyze metrics around errors like these, we can apply what we learn to future projects and reduce the likelihood of making the same mistakes again.

QA in Software Development

In software development, code is tested by the developers before it’s handed off for user acceptance testing or UAT. This step is often called quality assurance or QA. QA helps software developers identify problems with the code before they deliver a product for testing.

Most Common Mistakes

Without delay, here are some of the most common mistakes made during software testing.

Starting Without a Plan

Having a test plan is critical to successful testing. Sometimes, beginners (or even very experienced testers) think they can click around and remember what they’ve tested, what’s left to test, and what issues have arisen without an established plan, but this approach is a recipe for disaster. Testing should always start with an intentional, prescribed approach that can be replicated.

Skipping Signoff on the Testing Plan

It can be easy to breeze past the review and approval of the test plan knowing that QA signoff will be required anyway, but if there isn’t alignment around the test data, cases, and scenarios in advance, you risk testing the wrong data and finding out retrospectively. At that point, time is lost and can’t be recovered. When this happens, it requires rework and delays handoff for UAT, eroding the client’s trust and compromising future milestones.

Choosing Poor Test Data

Testing using data that is too similar might fail to uncover a bug in the programming. If a company is testing the annual benefit enrollment configuration in their HRIS, for example, and they only test full-time employees, they might miss that there is a bug in the enrollment event for part-time employees or that the rates table didn’t update for part-time employees with a spouse who uses tobacco. It’s important to use some data from as many categories as possible to ensure you uncover and resolve issues before handing them off for UAT.

Overlooking False Positives

Another common mistake is overlooking false positives or test cases that technically passed (met the criteria to pass) despite not working as expected. It’s important to document cases like these in the issues log and address them as issues despite ‘technically’ passing QA to prevent passing an issue onto UAT.

Bypassing Manual Testing

More and more automation is used in testing, which can save time, improve accuracy, and compress the project timeline. However, automation will likely never replace manual testing 100%. There should always be a manual component to QA to ensure there are no issues that can only be detected with a human eye before signing on WA.

Discarding Test Results

Another detrimental mistake is discarding test results once they’ve been addressed, when those test cases/results might be helpful in the next round of testing. Maintaining test results from the last round or two is best practice.

Not Performing Regression Testing

Anytime a new feature is released, testing should be performed to make sure the new feature hasn’t ‘broken’ anything else. This is called regression testing. It means that when a new feature is released, you have to test more than just the new feature. Inexperienced software testers often miss regression testing, leading to unexpected problems with functionality that can interrupt business operations.

Strategies for Successful Testing

To improve the likelihood of successful software testing, consider the following strategies:

  • Always start with a plan
  • Review the testing plan with stakeholders and get signoff on the testing plan before testing begins
  • Include the expected outcome for each test case in your testing plans
  • Use varied test cases to ensure as many scenarios as possible have been tested
  • Maintain thorough documentation of test cases, outcomes, and issues, and track issues through resolution, assigning responsibility for both resolution and retesting to avoid confusion and delays
  • Share as much detail as possible, including screen prints, when reporting bugs and issues to make it easy to resolve without having to replicate the issue again for developers
  • Find a balance between automation and manual testing to maintain the integrity only a human eye can provide
  • Maintain test results for a couple of rounds of testing
  • Outsource software testing to a software testing company; they specialize in this single component of the project management lifecycle and are experts in thorough and successful testing

Outsourcing Software Testing

More and more software development companies are outsourcing software testing or QA, so their team members can focus on development. When testing is outsourced, the original agency completes development and then hands it off to the software testing agency to complete QA.

The advantages of this model include cost savings, improved quality, systematic, predictable testing processes, and a faster time to market. It also allows developers to focus on core business activities rather than QA, allowing work to happen concurrently. There are no major disadvantages, but there are considerations.

Choosing a vendor is no easy feat and requires thought, evaluation, and careful consideration. Data security measures must be in place to safeguard client data. Remote collaboration is critical, so appropriate tools for communication, collaboration, and document sharing must be in place. For most businesses, the pros outweigh the cons.

In summary, quality assurance is the process of testing code before turning it over for user acceptance testing. Common mistakes in software testing are many and include testing without a plan, skipping sign-off on the plan, choosing limited test data, and more.

Testers can improve the accuracy and efficacy of their testing by using a plan that’s been reviewed and signed off, documenting issues thoroughly with screen prints, incorporating manual testing, and more. Agencies can find both efficiency and improved outcomes by outsourcing software testing to software testing companies like QualityLogic, who specialize in this single phase in the PM lifecycle, which is becoming both a common practice and an industry standard.

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