The app development process consists of several phases, one of the most important being the testing phase. After all, what good is an app if it doesn’t function properly or offers a poor User Experience (UX)? However, testing isn’t as simple as merely ensuring that an application works and looks nice. There are many intricate quality assurance steps to perform before an app can be launched to rule out any current and future issues. This process is referred to as the software testing life cycle.
In this post, we delve into all the phases of software testing and how each plays a critical role in ensuring the success of an application.
What Is the Software Testing Life Cycle?
The software testing life cycle (STLC) is the process of testing all the components of an application to ensure industry standards and the goals of the software are met. The testing process also involves looking for potential errors so they can be corrected prior to deployment as well as checking for any elements that may have been overlooked which could affect (and diminish) User Experience (UX).
The Difference Between the Software Testing Life Cycle and the Software Development Life Cycle
The software testing life cycle (STLC) is not to be confused with the software development life cycle (SDLC), which is the entire process an application undergoes, from ideation to production. The STLC is an essential part of the development process, and similar to the SDLC, is carried out in several phases. However, software testing can be performed either at a specific point during the SDLC, such as right before launch, or at various intervals throughout the entire development process.
The Importance of Software Testing
Preventing a problem is always better than fixing one after it occurs. This is the main reasoning behind the STLC and why testing is required during the development process.
It is impossible for any software, no matter how meticulously built, to be entirely perfect. Even if there are no detectable bugs, there is always a chance that something minor may have been overlooked, which can end up leading the application to crash or at the very least perform subpar.
During testing, every component of the software is examined individually to ensure all parts are working properly on their own. Then, components are tested in conjunction with others to ensure they are working properly together—and will continue to do so. If any challenges or questions come up, they can be addressed with time before the application is ready for consumer use.
The Phases of the Software Testing Life Cycle
Software testing is often carried out in six phases: Requirement Analysis, Test Planning, Test Case Development, Test Environment Setup, Test Execution, and Test Cycle Closure.
Think of each phase as a stage in a science project, so to speak. First, those involved in the project discuss the details of what they aim to accomplish and gather research. Then, a hypothesis is formed based on said research. This is followed by several rounds of testing, which may or may not account for variables. A control or constant element is compared against any anomalies or errors that may be encountered during testing to get to the root of the issue. The suspected issue is addressed and more testing is performed to ensure the problem is resolved. Finally, the project is complete.
Each phase has a specific set of entry and exit criteria that must be met before the next phase can be initiated. Entry criteria refers to the tasks that must be performed before testing can begin while exit criteria are the tasks that must be performed before the testing phase can conclude.
Phase 1: Requirement Analysis
Requirement Analysis (also known as Requirement Phase Testing) is the phase during which developers, quality assurance teams, and stakeholders meet to discuss which elements of the software can and should be tested, as well as the specific kinds of tests that should be performed. In a nutshell, it is a brainstorming session.
The “requirement” aspect of the phase refers to the unique functionalities and goals of the software that must be given precedence for testing based on the purpose of the software or the needs of the business. It involves the process of gathering initial data research on the parts of the software that should be examined as well as the different types of tests that can be undertaken.
Phase 2: Test Planning
The Test Planning phase takes all the ideas that were discussed and suggested in the previous level and narrows them down to establish actionable tasks. During this stage, key players will determine how to obtain the data they need through a specific software (sw) test plan by selecting a final list of tests to be performed, determining potential testing costs and how to allocate available resources, as well as assigning tasks to team members.
Phase 3: Test Case Development
Once the testing plan is in place, it’s time to decide the components of the software that are to be tested, how they will be tested, and the results that are to be expected. This is known as a test case.
Test cases at this point usually involve unit testing, which is the process of examining the smallest parts of an application on their own before testing larger components or the software as a whole. This is one of the most critical aspects of the STLC because it can help developers pinpoint errors right away since only a limited number of basic elements are being evaluated.
If these units are not tested at the beginning, problems may surface later on when an app is already in production, causing delays in launch, or worse, if the app has already launched, which would lead to poor User Experience (UX) and the need to issue an application update.
It is far more difficult and expensive to investigate the root cause of a software malfunction when having to evaluate multiple and much larger components all at once. Not only would developers have to spend additional time going through every application framework in order to isolate and fix the issue, but by this point, the initial error that could have easily been corrected may cause a domino effect, leading to additional problems with other integral software components.
Phase 4: Test Environment Setup
The test environment describes the conditions for both software and hardware that will be present when the application is tested. This phase is often done at the same time as the Test Case Development phase, but each can be done individually. The testing environment must also be checked for any issues prior to starting the next phase.
Phase 5: Test Execution
This is where the magic happens. The Test Execution phase is when the development team actually performs the testing based on the previous data that has been achieved. If any bugs are found, then they will be reported and corrected, then the software will be tested once again until the issue is resolved.
Phase 6: Test Cycle Closure
Once all the tests have been completed, testing teams will reconvene to discuss the results and determine whether any additional strategies should be implemented to prevent potential bugs in the future. A quality report will be created and presented to the business partner that details the test metrics and findings at each phase of the STLC, along with costs.
Test Your Application Today
The software testing life cycle will help you detect issues with your product early on in the development process, helping to prevent potentially larger issues later on and saving you the cost of having to go back and correct errors post-launch.
That being said, each phase of the STLC is complex and requires different skill sets in order to ensure your application is running smoothly and is free of errors. An experienced software developer can assist you with this critical aspect of the development process.
Our team of QA engineers is ready to take on your app. Contact Koombea today to discuss your product and learn more about how we can help test your software and assist you in launching a successful application.