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How to hone software quality testing for shifting app usage practices

Quality testing is increasingly critical to the software development lifecycle, especially as user practices expand and margins for error get thinner. This dichotomy, of growing vs. contracting, creates some interesting challenges for app developers. They have to be prepared not only to diversify the ways in which software can be used, but ensure that their are fewer bugs, flaws and other problems. That doesn't even take into account the accelerating pace at which apps are expected to be rolled out.

This transforming paradigm ups the ante for software developers. Agile development and other methods that call for more piecemeal app design have long become entrenched in many SDLCs, so the idea that quality testing should occur at multiple points along the process is nothing new. However, the introduction of so many end users unaccustomed to working with complex apps and report designer tools for data analysis and reporting creates new, stiffer challenges for programmers. Quality assurance practices need to put the user more firmly in focus, while testing needs to occur earlier and more often than ever before. Performance testing requirements will continue to evolve, so programmers should be aware of the tools and techniques they can adopt in order to strengthen quality assurance initiatives.

Becoming user-centric in a user-defined world
In order to shift to a more user-focused app development process, software designers need to take common usage practices into account. In many companies, users have little experience with nuanced software, and may not be as equipped to identify glitches or bugs in a program - they may think that an issue is simply part of a program's limitations. A lack of insight into app functionality can also lead to security issues, as a user could inadvertently expose a flaw or vulnerability in a program to a malicious agent. While building the highest-performance, most capable app possible is certainly in the best interest of programmers, business leaders and end users, flaws that subsist due to a lack of regimented quality testing can quickly undo best-laid plans. Combining elements of business logic, such as cross-channel optimization and changes in the user base, is critical to optimizing quality testing efforts, wrote Software Development Times contributor Shiva Hiremath.

"Use a tool-driven, risk-based testing mechanism driven by analytics to reduce reliance on gut feelings, thus ensuring transparent and repeatable quantification of risk," Hiremath wrote. "Testing and risks are closely associated with each other. As testing uncovers more defects, more risks are exposed. Hence, building a robust regression suite is vital, and testers play a key role in it. Testers need to ensure that the highest risks are addressed by testing first and scheduling tests based on the priority of the risk."

Making quality testing an ongoing process
The nature of app usage in the enterprise today is that the process is never really finished. Especially for custom company programs that must evolve as business needs do, programmers have to be ready to amend, update and otherwise transform programs in the effort to deliver optimal support to the user base. As App Developer Magazine contributor Eran Kinsbruner recently observed, the app testing process is part of an ongoing approval strategy, in which programmers should work closely with research teams, business logic experts and other stakeholders to ensure that changes can be made to app cycles as needed.

"The code should be reviewed post implementation with automation," said Kinsbruner. "This is another opportunity to involve research and development team members to provide feedback. Once the final coding is completed, it must now be approved again and revised if any there are any comments from research and development teams. The code work is never done."


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