Updated on April 21, 2021, by Magdalena Korgul, Content Specialist at Deviniti
Surprising as it may seem, most of the problems that testing teams have to deal with every day are non-technical. Tests constitute an important part of software development but unfortunately are often undervalued by other stakeholders. The testing process aims at finding bugs before a potential client does, so good testers inevitably bring bad news most of the time. This is probably the reason why they aren’t very welcome guests in the developers’ sections: more defects equals more work for the development team.
At this point, it’s important to remember that creating a software product involves many people with different roles, but with the same goal: the best quality assurance. The good first step towards overall success is understanding each other’s work and become aware of the problems that could be encountered on the way. In this article, we will present to you how we grouped the common challenges of testers which can be solved more easily than you think.
The most common testing challenges
This one can be a serious problem not only for testers but for each team member during software development. As it was mentioned before, working on a project requires collaboration between a lot of people. We all know that when there are many specialists trying their best to do their work against all odds, it’s almost impossible to avoid conflicts. And by conflicts, we don’t mean only QA teams’ and developers’ tough relationship, which needs to be on the same page, if our objective is to deliver a complete product in the end.
When it comes to big companies, team members often have to work in different time zones, or there are some management-related issues (for example inadequate test-related risk management or problems with scheduling). It makes it much more difficult to make collaborative decisions on a product when you can’t just walk up to someone’s desk and explain what you have in mind or even talk to them online right away to ask for an opinion.
But distance isn’t the only possible obstacle. In many companies testing and engineering processes are not properly integrated with each other. Components and subsystems are either tested before they are mature enough, or are already too complex to be tested one by one. Setting up a transparent process to get everyone on the same page becomes hard for big teams across different locations, but even harder for those who work in different tools, even while sitting in the same room. A lack of communication usually causes significant delays in delivery, and even budget exceeds.
There isn’t one right solution for fixing communication issues within a testing team. In the case of automatic testing, in order to deliver satisfactory results, the whole team has to be on the same page and each member must feel equally involved in the process. The undisturbed information flow between testers, developers, technical architects, but also the business team is crucial in avoiding slight misinformation that in the end may be responsible for the project failure. To achieve that, we have to implement one consistent information system for the whole organization.
Impossibility of complete testing
Testing software is related to the unnegotiable fact that there are always millions of combinations and possible reasons why something can go wrong. Even testers with a wild imagination are simply not capable of spotting each and every one of them, especially if the release due date is getting closer, and the Project Manager and Product Owner are watching everyone’s back. National Institute of Standards and Technology in its report The Economic Impacts of Inadequate Infrastructure for Software Testing confirms that software is typically delivered with approximately 2 to 7 defects per thousand lines of code, which results in major systems being released with hundreds or even thousands of bugs, as today it is common to find consumer products with a few million lines of code.
Let’s be honest, there’s never enough time to find and test all alternatives of test conditions. That can be frustrating as well as cause communication issues described in the paragraph above. This is why it’s so important to assign priority to requirements before we move on to the further stages of the project. And that leads us to the next common problem, related to non-sufficient project objectives’ specification.
Lack of requirements documentation
The general rule of every process is that each stage matters equally, but as the figures show, a bug can cost us up to 100 times more when it’s found during the maintenance phase in comparison to requirements gathering! Unfortunately, many testing teams still don’t pay enough attention to the requirements. Of course, they are usually collected, as without it starting work would be rather impossible, but testers have to deal with lots of problems such as insufficient business analysis of requirements, multiple tools used by the stakeholders to gather all their remarques, or just overall chaos in this phase of the process. The case is that requirements must be well-understood by testers so they can test the software properly and prevent defects.
Also, it’s not unlikely that after some time creating test specifications, a team learns that the requirements have changed. Hardware and software are upgrading quickly these days, especially in agile environments. Techniques like Rapid Application Development can produce a new version of the software every week or so. Therefore, requirements specification changes are a huge challenge to testers and lead to abnormally long turnaround times. This means that any change in the app’s features or requirements must be updated to the QA team as soon as possible.
In order to release a product of great quality, which all team members and managers aim for, it’s crucial to make a good structure of the project’s objectives, clearly describe and prioritize them, and only then proceed to the next steps without worrying about going back and forth all the time.
Source: The Economic Impacts of Inadequate Infrastructure for Software Testing report by NIST
Testers don’t always have control over the environment they work in. Usually, there’s more than one testing team member and everyone makes changes during the process. It’s hard to keep track of what is deployed in the current build and what isn’t. Also, developers often implement changes in the test environments in order to fix some of the spotted defects or simply add new issues to be tested. The case is that the QA team isn’t always informed about these improvements and that brings a disorder in, as it’s hard to test the app of which you don’t have complete and actual information.
It may seem that more test environments would solve the problem, but it’s not that simple. More test environments may signify a slower server and poorer quality, but above all, it makes regression testing almost impossible. Last but not least, it has to be remembered that the system may behave differently during tests than during actual operations. The problem of an unstable environment often stems from a lack of communication. This is why we always have to sort this issue first before going forward to solving more complex problems.
Visit our blog and read more about testing challenges and tips to solve them!
Many problems, one solution?
Thus, in an ideal situation, we should be able to store everything from requirements through development tasks and test cases up to the defects in a single place. We also should be able to give these objects a structure and track relations between all of them during the development lifecycle. This approach allows maintaining transparent communication between developers, analysts, and testers, as well as making the managers’ life easier by letting them track the whole software project at a glance and get real-time updates about the work in progress. Apparently, Jira Software can fulfill these expectations and become the command center of our software project, if we dare to incorporate requirements and tests into it.
Except for being a project management tool, Jira was originally created to detect bugs, so it appears to be a perfect choice for this purpose. If we’re just starting and don’t have a big team, we can even start right out of the box and create a single project for all requirements and tests. But the more we grow, the more complex the process becomes. We can add Confluence to store detailed specifications and then just track the workflows and defects in Jira. We can turn on a CI loop in Bamboo or Jenkins to automate repetitive checks on the code. But then we start feeling we would need tighter integration of the tool with the test management process. There are no dedicated test reports, we cannot visualize the structure of the objects inside the project, and everything we need we set up manually with the help of the Jira Admin. This is where dedicated testing apps from the Atlassian Marketplace come into play.
In RTM for Jira, you can verify if all your requirements are covered by related objects
Testing is without any doubt a tough game. There are many parts of the process and even more ways they can fail it. From the very beginning, where requirements are set up, until reporting bugs to the development team and/or managers, testers must face lots of difficulties. Some of them are related to communication problems with the rest of the stakeholders, as QA teams are perceived as the bad guys of the whole process. Other issues of testing result from mistakes in workflow management, usually repeated in software development projects, as teams get used to the patterns they frequently follow…even if they’re antipatterns.
The best first step is always to decide on change and try new solutions. A new testing tool you will make the life of your testers much easier and maximize productivity which will help release the best possible version of the final product the first time around.
If you’re interested in more knowledge about Jira Software as a test management solution, check out this video tutorial series on our YouTube. Also, read more on bringing requirements and test management inside Jira on Deviniti blog: