4 Ways to Increase Software Quality and Decrease Test Time
Software testers are continually under pressure to shorten test cycles while ensuring the highest quality software releases. Over the course of my career as a software tester, I have learned that working in collaboration with developers and the rest of the team makes the test effort run much more efficiently.
By taking the perspective that quality is the responsibility of the entire team, not just the testers, shorter test cycles with higher quality releases are possible. Here are four ways to help you achieve this outcome.
1. Focus Requirements
Requirements define expectations and describe the functionality and behavior of the software being tested. They are the foundation of the development and test effort, so it's crucial that they be written appropriately.
Testers, developers, and other stakeholders should thoroughly review the requirements, seeking out omissions, inconsistencies, ambiguities, and contradictions. They should check that the requirements are SMART—specific, measurable, acceptable, realistic, and time-bound—and make the necessary updates prior to software and test case development. When it comes to requirements, review twice and code once.
2. Employ Coding Best Practices
When writing code, developers should follow established coding guidelines. This ensures the code is written in a consistent style, enhances its readability, facilitates its maintenance, and leads to fewer defects.
When possible, provide test documentation to the developers, allowing them to see the types of tests to be performed, especially for those test cases that will involve attempting to break the software in order to uncover unforeseen scenarios that the developers may have overlooked. Code complexity tools should be used to identify code that is too complex, prone to errors, or difficult to maintain. It’s also advisable for developers and testers to perform code review walkthroughs while verifying traceability back to the requirements.
3. Capture Defects Consistently
Similar to coding guidelines for developers, there should also be guidelines for testers regarding writing defects. Writing defect titles and descriptions in a predefined, consistent format capturing required key information can be a significant timesaver. It also makes it easier to search the defect-tracking system to avoid the possibility of duplicate defect entries, and it reduces the likelihood the developer needs to reach out to the tester to clarify something or provide missing information.
No matter who submits the defect, the defect titles and descriptions should all be written in the same format, and, ideally, the developer should never need to request further information from the submitter.
4. Track Defect Metrics per Test Cycle
If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it—that is, you won’t know if you’re successful unless success is defined and tracked.
Some key metrics per test cycle that should be shared with the team include defects found versus defects fixed, defects reopened, duplicate defects, nonreproducible defects, system down time, and defects that needed additional clarification. Metrics should not always be taken at face value; sometimes they require thorough analysis to determine the reasons behind the numbers.
Higher quality software and shorter test cycles are possible when quality is the entire team’s responsibility.