All software depends on a crack QA testing team to work properly. By finding bugs or other discrepancies in a piece of software, these teams ensure customers are satisfied with your products. However, the last few years have seen a steady decrease in budget allocation for this work. This has been happening around the world.
Bug-riddled software can have a dramatic impact on the client onboarding process, and a significant impact on business success. Users that encounter problems with your software can be put off to the point they stop using it altogether.
For apps, this problem is particularly acute; 34 percent of smartphone users will stop using an app if they encounter a bug. In light of stats like these, it’s essential QA professionals use their time effectively.
By identifying these common mistakes (and learning how to avoid them) people working in QA can help themselves and their teams do a better job than ever.
1. Failing to define the testing scope
One of the first mistakes software testers can make is failing to understand the full scope of their job. QA testing is a complex undertaking that consists of several distinct tasks. Functional testing - a focus on features rather than code - is a key area, but others include performance testing, security testing, and so on. All relevant areas must be considered during the testing process.
As such, it’s important to make enough time for proper testing. If you’re habitually testing software toward the end of development, it’s more likely problems and mistakes will creep in. This is because of the time pressures placed on software testers - since you’re the only ones delaying development, you’re more likely to work quickly and miss significant problems.
Even with plenty of time allocated, you’ll probably need to prioritize certain tasks over others. Code quality, for example, is a particularly important area. You should also make sure you don’t overlook tasks like regression testing. It’s possible a new feature could introduce bugs and compromise existing features. Regular regression testing ensures this doesn’t become a problem.
2. Poor documentation
Of course, to know what progress you’re making, you need to write things down. Sloppy documentation is another key mistake that’s often made during the testing process.
Somebody should document each project’s overall requirements and functionalities before testing begins. If you’re not sure how to do this, look beyond your in-house team and contract someone. This is no different to using outsourced content marketing services - if you want top-tier work, it pays to look beyond the limits of your business.
This has a few advantages. Outsourcing allows you to hire top talent so you can begin on the best footing. Starting strong ensures the QA team understands their task and that all tasks are completed in line with your plan. If there are any disputes or questions about what people should be doing, this document can clarify matters.
Recording progress on specific tasks is also essential. A lack of documentation here usually means QA teams work inefficiently or even overlook tasks altogether. In extreme situations, it can lead to functions being tested multiple times for no useful purpose, with certain features left buggy or completely omitted.
When testing professionals come across bugs in a piece of software, it’s important the report on this is clear and helpful. A bad bug report can lead to serious misunderstandings and delay development. Conversely, a good report contains all relevant communication between the QA and development teams, while also suggesting possible solutions.
By clarifying tasks and progress in this way, members of a QA team have a better idea of what everyone is doing. This also ensures that when things go wrong, it’s easy to understand what’s been done and how best to fix it.
3. Using tools improperly
Today’s QA testers have numerous tools they can use to do their jobs. However, they may be overly reliant on some tools or fail to use others to full effect.
One handy tool QA testers use is automation. If you’ve worked in QA for a while, or ever had to compare RPA and BPM, you’re likely familiar with it. There are various areas of software testing that don’t need constant human oversight. If time is at a premium, this kind of automation can be extremely useful. This is often the case for tasks like regression testing, load testing, and performance testing.
That said, it’s important to understand that automated testing can’t solve every problem. There are several reasons for this, and it’s always worth asking when you should automate software testing and when you’re better to handle tasks manually.
One reason is that an automated test might not account for every variable. If something like network connectivity changes over time, for example, this might mean the test isn’t as useful or relevant as it could be.
Furthermore, there’s often variation between different automation tools. They come in both paid and open-source variants, and not every tool is a perfect fit for your testing environment. If you’ve ever learned how to make a bot, you’ll be acutely aware of this.
Another issue is financial. While automated testing saves time, it may incur significant financial costs for the company that deploys it. These don’t just come from using a suitable tool. They come from changing to a different tool if the one you picked doesn’t do what it needs to or if you have to amend tests because they were designed improperly.
A mix of manual and automated testing is therefore recommended for most QA teams. Relying too much on automated tools could lead to you overlooking flaws or ballooning costs during the development process.
One way to balance cost and efficiency is to look into tools that speed up manual testing, such as task management or test management tools. These can help you to better visualize your testing process. They also offer benefits such as test cases & defect management and integrate with other software (like communication and social media) in some cases.
4. Upsetting your colleagues
The pitfalls of automated testing demonstrate a key point - namely, we can’t ignore the human element of software. This idea applies to interactions with our fellow professionals as well as the work we undertake.
As a QA tester, it can be easy to get frustrated with the flaws you find. Even if it’s your job to do so, encountering a lot of problems can lead to some awkward (yet necessary) conversations, and it’s not always clear how best to approach them.
When working in a team, it’s important to be diplomatic in how you deliver criticism. Everyone in your workplace will strive for professionalism, but that’s not enough to stop egos from getting bruised. A hostile atmosphere is unpleasant to work in and can have a negative impact on your workflow.
Avoid saying work is bad; this might be true on some level, but it’s still ineffective in fixing the problem. Try to offer a solution or highlight something the developer did well while delivering your criticism. Above all, remember you’re all on the same team, so it’s in your best interests to cooperate and get the job done.
It’s possible your department has received some guidance in this area previously as part of a business process transformation. If so, you might want to consult another department for advice in this area.
5. Overlooking the final steps
QA testing is an ongoing process, and professionals must see it through to the end. This includes checking the results of the tests you undertake, even when it can feel pointless to do so.
For instance, you might be tempted to overlook automation test results. As discussed previously, automated tests often take place in unpredictable testing environments. We can’t know the results of a test until it’s completed, so failing to examine these means we risk overlooking significant problems with the software.
Similarly, it’s easy to overlook (or discard) test results from older test runs. While it’s easy to see these as redundant, older test results can help you see where a problem originated. You don’t need to keep every single result, of course, but a few of the most recent ones can be very instructive.
More generally, it’s worth remembering that while a single test has an endpoint, software development is an ongoing process. Be at least a little flexible, accept software will change in design and features, and consider strategies like elastic QA to keep it working efficiently.
While QA is laborious and often stressful, it’s still vital work and can be made easier with some care and attention. Understanding the true nature of your role helps you start things on the right foot, as does choosing the correct tools and working well with your colleagues.
Troubleshooting these problems ensures that, even in an era of strained budgets, QA professionals can do their jobs effectively.