Recent years have brought many changes in the world of business. Remote working is now the norm with meetings conducted virtually every day at a staggeringly increasing rate. Competent software for business owners and remote workers is more important than ever. Many company functions rely on dependable software, so when it fails it has a devastating impact on operations and infiltrates the key functions across the width and breadth of the wider collaborative process. To avoid failings, dissolution, and redundancy, the role of testing and quality assurance has become more critical than ever before.
The Shift in Working Patterns and the Consequential Challenges
Technology advances for business in the last few decades, like this range of Lenovo’s Business Laptops, have led to a far more facilitated work at home experience for remote workers and business owners. However, despite the top-tier tech, this neoteric trend in working patterns, owing to the pandemic and people’s mindset shifting, has highlighted weaknesses alongside strengths. It is suggested that perhaps the somewhat inevitable shift to home working was premature, and the collective was simply not ready for the colossal change. However, it is estimated that at least 52% of workers who are able to do so, choose to do their role at home for one day out of the week. The core issues are explored further here.
- Connectivity issues such as poor internet connections impact virtual meetings and task fulfillment to a point of impairment.
- Lack of engagement or ability to motivate staff through virtual platforms. KPIs are harder to track and manage, and a screen is far easier to disengage with than a face-to-face meeting.
- Isolation and a general decline in mental health for workers and management alike.
- Malfunctioning software and programming faults hampering the capacity to competently complete work commitments.
Software Testing Overview
Testing software can be done either manually or using automated tools. There are arguments for the efficiency of both strategies, and both are used in the industry. Manual testing is a user-focused approach whereby the professional tester sits down with the software deciphering bugs and other errors through a systemized process. Manually tested software can then be used alongside written scripts to automatically test further software, thus solidifying the authenticity of the output. The key concepts are discussed here in further detail to provide more detail about the process.
The STLC, or Software Testing Life Cycle, works in sync with the development life cycle and the two are in a state of constant flux against one another to ensure the credibility and performance of a particular software creation. There are generally three methods of approach:
- Structural Testing or the White Box approach focuses on internal components of the software to ensure they deliver specification assurances.
- The Black Box method differs slightly as it is a more general agenda. Nothing internally is observed, instead, the tester takes the software at face value, as a typical user would.
- Finally, Grey Box tests encompass elements of structural testing and black box methodology to create a comprehensive middle ground that is, arguably, more thorough than the above.
Within these methods, there are various tests performed:
- A Unit Test: To verify code aspects.
- An Integration Test: To decipher bugs that may be impacting the relationship of communicative processes between software components.
- A System Test: This test takes apart every step of the process from the loading of the software to every single user function.
While there are multiple approaches, the Agile testing method tends to be the most accurate, as opposed to the other testing models. Agile methodology allows for fewer opportunities for things to be missed during the whole process as it begins early on in the software development stage, i.e., as soon as the program can perform its purpose and be used.
The Impact of Software Failures on Businesses
In the eventuality that none of these tests have taken place, users are left with potentially disrupted workdays because of malfunctions and all the consequential holdups. The impact moves deeper than just the superficial surface deliverances though, as discussed here.
Engagement and Employee Retention
Businesses with faulty software or lack of testing implementations have far higher resignation rates than the companies that factor this into consideration. If workers cannot do their job, they cannot engage. A natural consequence of this is that they feel disengaged and demotivated in the work environment. This feeling seeps into the work-life balance and affects their ability to find solace and relaxation in their downtime owing to the stresses of work. So, you see, it is an inescapable, infinite helix of the detriment that affects not only performance capacity but identity as well.
It is costing companies money that could be put elsewhere. Revenue losses are not to be taken lightly, especially when they are entirely avoidable with existing practices. It is far more logical to set aside budget money for a software tester or QA professional to provide their services than it is to waste essential income on faults and glitches. If a company cannot perform basic functions, it cannot create a stream of revenue. Without this money coming in, there will be no money to go out which leads to redundancies and sometimes, complete closure of the venture altogether.
There is also the reputational damage to consider. Once marred by a disastrous failure, it is difficult for a company to claw back. The brand of a company is defined by many factors, one of which is how it delivers on its promises. If any kind of software is impeding this process or corrupting essential data in any context, it paints a negative picture of the business to its audiences. This can cause years’ worth of damage, which consequently affects cash flow, engagement, and subscription, and hinders the projection trajectory.
Project deadlines are a daily consideration for any business. When something has to be completed, it has a finite, associated timeline. Anything that hinders this timeline from staying on track is bound to uproot the available resources within the scope of the venture. Time is precious regardless of the size or stature of the company, as every worker has a job, and every job has a purpose. If faulty software is holding everything up, this may potentially cause a rippling decay that is felt in every department. Not only will this be bad for business in the eyes of clients, outputs, and management, but it directly affects worker morale too.
Quality Assurance Overview
Quality Assurance (QA) is by no means exclusive to the software industry. This is a widespread market approach that is brought to many a product from food to technology. In this context, it acts as a failsafe for the testing process. Sitting above the testing proceedings, the QA methodology takes a look at the rates of success of the testing process, going over everything in more detail and ensuring no stone was left unturned. It is a way to further verify that software delivers on what it is selling to the business market (or general consumer).
How Can Testing and QA Address the Challenges of Current Working Patterns?
The impacts of software malfunctions are discussed above, and now the narrative moves to how testing and QA address the aforementioned challenges. Businesses whether remote or office-based need consistent levels of reliability where they chose to carry out their services. The benefits to this process are explored here.
One: Removes the Likelihood of Software Failures
While no process is ever truly competent and 100% effective, testing and QA certainly diminishes the risk factor all but completely. Depending on the level of testing and the depth of the process, the business is able to strip down the tasks to its roots and ensure every single step of the task at hand is not vulnerable to defects. A rigorous testing process alongside expert quality assurance schedules act as a barrier to any potential failures that may come along. While a lot of this is done during the development cycle of a program before it is released for general purchase, new technology is invented all the time. Therefore, software in constant use requires constant updates. These updates expose the programming to glitches, bugs, and general malfunctions that are sometimes unavoidable, but still, require a solution.