Why Testing Fails?

By: Nilesh Jain

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Published on: November 26, 2023

Business owners often do not take software testing seriously and expect the software to pass the test. However, so is not the case! This expectation can be misleading.

It is important to remember that every software will have a bug no matter if you are testing it for the first time or for the 100th time!

Software Testing is a critical part of the software development lifecycle. Any software product must undergo testing to identify bugs and errors. Failure to thoroughly test software results in severe consequences such as late delivery, harmed reputation, loss of customer base, and thus loss of profit.

The question now is, why might testing fail? Even after thoroughly testing the software, product owners either compromise on quality or delay the release process.

Let's examine why testing fails and how we can avoid these stumbling blocks. So, take a seat, read the article, and we'll meet at the end.

Let's understand why testing fails.

#01 Lack of Understanding of User Personas

It is important that the tester should understand the user personas - different types of users using the system, which helps them test the software from the customer's point of view. This results in effective test results & applying the right test cases.

Without understanding the user personas, the tester may test according to his knowledge and expertise and might fail to meet the product testing objective.

Let's take an example if a tester is to test a product like WhatsApp, which everyone on this planet uses. Most of the users are laymen who use it purely as a messaging platform. Hence, the testing shall be done accordingly. However, if a B2B SAAS app has to be tested, it requires much intelligent testing as the user persona is different.

The derivative QA metrics can help to assess the effort that the testing team puts in day in and day out to achieve the desired outcome or results. This information is helpful for testing leads, and QA managers who are carefully monitoring the performance of different resources.

#02 Poor Quality Standards

Software Quality Standards are a method of measuring quality against a set of ideal industry standards. It's a way to ensure that your software is being built with quality and that the proper procedures are followed. This set of standards can be specific to your company or industry standards.

They are essentially the standards that you must ensure your software development lifecycle adheres to.

The complexity of modern-day software applications and the requirement to deploy them across multiple platforms and devices have made software testing essential.

When best practices for testing are followed, the resulting quality assurance results in high-performing software that performs as expected, much to the delight of customers.

However, with so many software testing practices being heralded as "the next best thing," it can be challenging to determine which ones are the best to follow.

#03 Insufficient test environments

Often, clients lack resources in the form of time or money and expect the testers to test their product in the existing development environments.This is the major reason why any software testing fails.

Every software is unique in its own way and should be tested in its own testing environment. Failing to do results in crashes, deployment issues, and data issues. The client must understand that the testing environments should be different from the production environments.

Hence it is always best to test the software under multiple test environments such as the development environment, QA environment, and production environment to find as many bugs and resolve them before the launch.

#04 Insufficient product knowledge

Understanding a product necessitates meticulous attention to detail and perseverance. To begin, we must define a product and know how to use it before testing.

Understanding the product thoroughly is essential for delivering successful software products that meet the customers' specific needs.

Before beginning testing, a tester must have the following:

  • Product functionality knowledge.

  • Identify User Personas, DataFlows, and User Journeys.

  • Business and design rules.

  • Need to understand the boundaries of the product being tested and where other products are integrated.

  • Dependencies must be identified.

  • Should be on the lookout for any edge cases developers might overlook.

The Effect of Technical Debt

The effort required to fix the issues/defects in the code after an application is released is referred to as technical debt.

Unfortunately, many new bugs appear when a development team is busy working on a project and fixing bugs. Some of these have been fixed, while others have been defered for a later release. When the number of issues increases, it becomes increasingly difficult to release the product on time and without incident. This is the worst outcome if technical debt is not addressed on time.

Several factors can contribute to a "technical debt" situation during a typical software design and development cycle, including inadequate documentation, insufficient testing and bug fixing, lack of coordination between teams, legacy code and delayed refactoring, the absence of continuous integration, and other uncontrollable factors.It has been observed, for example, that code duplication efforts can result in 25 to 35 percent extra work.

However, nowhere are technical debt challenges more visible than in QA testing, where test teams must meet unexpected deadlines, and everything can go wrong.

How many times have testers been caught off guard at the last second when the delivery manager appeared unusually and exclaimed, "Team! We need to launch our product in a week, so we apologize for not communicating this sooner. Please complete all test tasks as soon as possible so we can begin the demo."

In general, any missed tests or "solve it later" approach can result in a tech debt problem. Lack of test coverage, oversized user stories, short sprints, and other examples of "cutting corners" due to time constraints contribute significantly to the accumulation of technical debt in QA practice.

#04 Inadequate unit testing

In theory, developers should run unit tests once a function is coded. However, there appears to be a reluctance to code these tests. After all, why would anyone want to write more code just to test what is already written?

Well, it's not difficult to see why. We must consistently deliver new features, evolve flows, and improve the customer experience. And delivering on time is no longer sufficient. Deliveries are becoming increasingly important in terms of quality.

As a result, it is impossible to dismiss the importance of unit testing — which, by itself, ensures that the code works in its most basic form.

Unit tests are required to test modules, methods, classes, and features, among other things, and to ensure that the unit is performing as expected.

When deadlines approach, it is not uncommon for development teams to ignore practice or prefer that QAs perform unit tests. Everyone is accountable for quality, including the developer. However, there is still a lack of maturity in implementing this mindset. And while unit tests are not being performed more frequently, it is better to doubt the existence of this maturity.

#05 Lousy documentation

Assume you must document the expected outcome of a test case, including watching a video. The examples below demonstrate alternative methods of documenting the outcomes.

Poor documentation example:

  • Test summary: The video is not visible to the user.
  • Actual outcome: The video failed to play.
  • Expected outcome: The video should play.

The problem with this example is that it lacks specificity. For example, the tester in charge of resolving the video issue will be unaware of the device used for the test, the network connection strength, and so on. As a result of the lack of clarity, the fix may fail to address the issue.

Good documentation example:

  • Test summary: The video does not start regardless of network strength.
  • Actual outcome: Attempts to start the video result in continuous buffering. The test was conducted on a mobile device for a 1010-minute interval with a network speed of 100100 Mpbs.
  • Expected outcome: The video buffering must not last more than 1010 seconds based on web standards.

In the preceding example, the tester now has a complete picture of the testing environment as well as the specifics of the defect.

It is not enough to simply run your tests and declare them complete. If you simply click on the system to test some scenarios, you are manipulating the product rather than testing it. The testing cannot be taken seriously unless there is documentation describing what you did and the outcome.

At the very least, you should keep track of:

  • Who conducted the test.
  • The date of the tests.
  • Environment testing was performed in (Development, Quality assurance, etc.)
  • The primary data points used in the testing.
  • Test outcome (i.e., pass or fail).

If a test fails, you should document why it failed: is it because the form layout on the screen is not as specified? The developers will require this information to make the necessary changes and solve the problem.

#06 Unskilled Testers

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.” - John Ruskin.

The tester must determine whether or not an application meets the requirements. While testing, they must also think "outside the box" and consider the end-point users of view. A bad tester will not look beyond the requirements to find bugs.

An unskilled tester is unable to comprehend the customer's requirements. However, a bad tester is hesitant to ask any doubts or questions, possibly due to a lack of confidence or technical knowledge.

Companies with a permanent testing division that tests all developments and products are in a better position. On the other hand, many companies hire testers with specific backgrounds or skills, primarily when new systems are being implemented and we lack the necessary knowledge in-house.

#07 Lack of interaction among different teams

Communication breakdowns, particularly when conveying software requirements, can hinder the creation of real test scenarios. Inadequate communication occurs due to various factors such as client and developer time zone differences, misinterpretations, employee shift differences, and so on.

It is important to remember that QAs cannot develop adequately effective test cases unless they understand the technical and business requirements. QA engineers must know the specific user journeys, navigations, and outcomes to create test cases that thoroughly test the software at hand.

Pro-tip: Ensure that everyone is on the same page! The development and testing teams must regularly collaborate with the product head or managers. Discussions at regular intervals keep the process transparent and help team members stay on track with their deliverables. Clear goals assist testers in creating and executing result-oriented test cases and delivering products on time.

#08 Poor Project Management

Management, for example, may fail to provide adequate test resources or may apply inappropriate external pressures during testing. Testing lessons are far too often ignored, resulting in the same problems being repeated project after project.

There is pressure on the testers to complete the testing as quickly as possible to meet the delivery deadline. Most of the time, project managers and senior management overlook that the code may necessitate more testing cycles.

The software is sometimes released before the testing phase is completed. Many customers include a penalty clause for software delivery delays without penalizing poor quality or linking delivery to acceptable quality criteria.

As a result, most service company executives are obsessed with delivering software on time while turning a nelsons eye on the poor quality.

#09 Time constraints

Software testing is an expensive process that can account for up to 50% of the cost of developing software-based systems. Due to time, cost, and skill constraints, software testing as a discipline has come under pressure in recent years. These constraints harm the effectiveness of software testing.

Testing is one of the project phases that is frequently skipped. This is risky because testing can provide you with a level of optimism that is unlikely to be maintained throughout the project life cycle. Therefore, the notion that we are building the product so well that we can test it in a short period should never be mentioned in project meetings.

Testing should be given enough time because it must be done correctly. Testing is not something you do just once (unless you have good luck).

You should not expect to complete a test once and be done with it: it is a continuous effort until the tests pass. This also implies that you should have testers available at all times so that they can respond quickly when developments need to be tested again.

#10 Testing tools & Environments

Apps and web applications are accessed simultaneously from thousands of device-browser-platform combinations. However, there are frequently insufficient test environments. Some test environments may also be of poor quality (excessive defects) or lack fidelity to the actual system being tested.

Furthermore, the system and software under test may behave differently during testing than when used. Other common issues are that tests were not delivered or the test software, data, and environments were not correctly configured.

Needless to say, teams must create robust applications that work flawlessly across the most popular combinations. Teams must have access to labs to test across a wide range of device-browser-OS combinations. However, setting up on-premise device labs requires a significant investment and may be out of reach for small and medium-sized businesses.

How to prevent testing failure?

Following these precautions carefully can help prevent testing failures:

  • Use of Test-Oriented Development Practices such as TDD (Test-driven development) and pair programming.

  • Ensure that all tests are included in the CI/CD pipeline

  • Use tests designed for Maximum Coverage.

  • Examine code quality, which includes four critical areas of software quality: performance efficiency, security, delivery rate, reliability, and maintainability.

  • Conduct QA Technical Reviews regularly, like technical reviews, review meetings, walkthroughs, and inspections.

Conclusion

Many people fail when it comes to quality, not because they have bad intentions, but because they approach quality as if it were a problem with a single clear cause rather than a problem with multiple complicated or complex reasons. Because testing failures are caused by ignorance, taking all precautions, such as quality control measures, automating regressions, hiring skilled members, and effective communication, among others, can significantly reduce these failures.

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