Software Testing

How not to lose your sleep when the release date approaches?

not-to-loose-sleepSoftware project release dates can be the things that nightmares are made of. According to a report by Standish group, almost 80% of software projects are unsuccessful because of budget overruns, missed timelines leading to slower time to market, missing functions or a combination of all. Another report by Geneca states that “75% of business and IT executives anticipate that their software projects will fail.” The Chaos Manifesto report by Version One shows that only 39% of all projects are successful in terms of timely delivery, budgetary adherence, and compliance with the required features and functions. Given these numbers, it is no surprise as a project release date approaches development and software testing teams work round the clock to make sure that they deliver the project on time, with all bug fixes and features in place. Having said this, is there any way to ensure a change in this plot? Like everything else, this problem too may start with proper planning. As development and testing get increasing interlinked, this blog explores the steps that developers and testers can take to ensure that they have everything under control in the days leading up to a product release.

Project plan
Having a defined project plan forms the essence of good project execution. Project teams thus should begin with objectively outlining specific goals and quantifying the expected outcomes, including time to market goals. To enable this, the project team and the business executives have to work together to define what the application they are developing is expected to accomplish. Attaching timelines, milestones, and deadlines to projects is essential to make sure that the project runs on schedule. It also pays to help all the invested parties understand the work that is required of them and understand how their role impacts the bigger picture. It also helps to keep a product evolution plan in mind so that the product can be developed, and tested, keeping its future growth in place and thus, reduce time and resource wastage.

Integrating testing with product development
Scrambling to complete the code for the product at the nth hour is the cause of many stressful and long nights before the release data. As we move towards more agile development methodologies, agile testing is also getting built into the development plan. Having a dedicated software testing team that tests each piece of code thoroughly by identifying scenarios and workflows that need manual testing and where test automation can be implemented makes this process smoother. Since most agile projects have short release cycles, the testing team has to work closely with the development team to make sure that they identify bugs and product flaws in time so that the development team can iteratively work on the code and thereby reduce backlogs. By doing so, maintaining timelines becomes more manageable and easier and ultimately, helps achieve the time to market goals.

Robust testing strategy
Many might feel that placing more emphasis on software testing and trying to test all code is only going to increase the burden on a project. However, it’s important to note that by testing fast and testing often bugs can be identified faster and hence corrected faster. Leaving this for a later data only results in a mad rush to the finish line. It also becomes essential to automate repetitive tasks to free up valuable human resources and standardize test automation processes so that automation inputs and outputs are consistent. Testing teams can also make the testing process faster by selecting the right test automation tool by evaluating business needs and desired automation outcomes and complement that with skilled resources and robust infrastructure support.

Implementing bug fixes and new features
To complete a project on time and stay on top of the release date it is essential to implement bug fixes immediately. Bug fixes mean that there will be a change in the previously written code. To release an error-free and high performing product on time, it becomes critical to thoroughly test how the new piece of code is interacting with the existing code. Additionally, if there are new features that are added to the product all integrations and dependencies have to be tested thoroughly to make sure that the new integrations do not impede the performance of the product and all functionalities operate as expected. This means performing thorough regression tests to ensure that each piece of code works well with the other and that the code iterations do not, in any way, impact the performance or functionalities of the product.

User Acceptance Testing
User Acceptance Testing or UAT makes sure that the new features and functionalities added to the product add business value and do not take away from it. Doing a thorough UAT helps in validating the functionality and ensures that the list of original requirements is complied with. It also helps in identifying if any new features should be added to make the product more useful for its intended audience.

Account for changing environments
In order to release a software on time, it is essential to also check if there are going to be some changes in the environments. Cloud migration, rebuilding an application for a cloud environment, adding new mobile capabilities etc. mean some change to the application. For example, if an application is being moved from a central server to the Cloud there has to be a change in the testing approach. The focus of testing in such a case will be more on security, SLA adherences, functional testing, performance testing etc. and lesser on versioning or backward compatibility. Adapting a testing strategy to meet the environment needs becomes essential before the release date to make sure that all iterations and changes are exhibiting correctly and that all functionalities are working as expected.

By following the above-mentioned practices, development teams can ensure that while there will be a certain amount of trepidation before a release, the number of sleepless nights will be few and far between. After all, well begun is half done!

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