The value of a software testing process
Does a software testing process provide a best approach to testing? Coming from a background in engineering I have always been a firm believer in the benefits of a sold and dependable testing process which includes test planning, design, building, execution and reporting. So, how come I find it hard to convince others of its merits? After much soul searching, I’ve come down to the conclusion and it’s this. A rigid and formal testing process doesn’t work in many of today’s software projects. For example, some of the benefits of a software testing process are to provide re-usability and repeatability of results
Re-use is cited as one of the benefits of a software testing process as it reduces long term cost both in resources and time. For example, test scripts once written can be used again in future releases reducing the upfront resources.
But, in my experience, I’ve rarely used the same test script twice. This is because each time a new release is planned, its markedly different to the previous one. Add into the mix, new developers, new testers and soon the amount of flux necessitates re-starting the test planning, design and building from first principles. I question the value of re-use when it ends up costing similar or more in time and resources.
Another benefit of a solid testing process is the repeatability of the results. Again though, if your code change is that significant, you will have to question the validity of the expected result. If resources are required to confirm or update the expected results, I’d have to argue time may be better spent in beginning again. This is especially true if the software tester is new to the project and requires analysis time to fully understand a product and its environment.
In summary,I believe that where rapid change exists, you need an adaptable approach and is lighter on documentation
In industries with little change there is much benefit to a repeatable, re-usable approach, but where rapid change exists, I think spending lots of energy on paper documents which in the end will only get used once is a waste of time and cost.
Testing is essential, just that the process to perform testing must always be up for review and change too!
my two (Aussie) cents for the day….