Test Coverage and How to Maximize It

Posted in: Quality assurance testing, Usability testing by: Manel on:

If you want to ensure that the software you ship is the best possible quality, then you need to maximize your test coverage. The problem is that you have limited time and resources, so how do you maximize your test coverage? Where should you focus your efforts for best results? How can you spread those resources a little further without spreading them too thinly?

We have a few tips to share that will hopefully help you maximize that test coverage.

Understand the business aims.

Before you start to write up test cases, it’s vital to take some time to understand the point of the software you’re going to test. Talk to the end user. Talk to your business people. Take a look at the industry and see what competitors are doing. Without a good understanding of what the software is supposed to do, it’s difficult to accurately test. Think beyond the basic functionality to usability. What is most important to end users?

Target the numbers.

You should always focus your efforts on the most popular platforms or configurations. Test on the same hardware used by the majority of your target end users. The same rule applies to software and configuration. Cover the most popular platforms and devices first.

Talk to the developers.

Even if the documentation is perfect, you should still talk directly to the developers about what they’re doing with each release. You’ll find out things you never knew, you’ll get tips on where to focus your efforts in the next test cycle and you’ll be building a better working relationship. Everything runs more smoothly when testers and developers work together.

Automate and simplify.

You’re going to save a lot of time and effort if you automate repetitive tasks. Any project is going to be overwhelming for a manual test team if you don’t automate some tests as you go. Break tests down into simple chunks to maximize re-usability. Automation can free your testers up to really flex their talents and focus on usability and new features.

Try to multitask.

Avoid a limited outlook when you’re testing. If you see an issue that’s beyond the remit of your current test case, make sure to check it out or at least make a note to return later. Record exploratory test sessions with new features as they can potentially serve as the basis for test cases later. Think about usability issues while you’re testing the functionality.

Analyze your efforts.

You need to put test metrics in place to ensure that your test coverage is good. By analyzing defects and test cycles, you can make changes and measure whether they’re effective. Only proper analysis on an ongoing basis will enable you to see whether that new tool has had a positive impact, which areas of the software require more focus or how efficiently your team is working. It’s easier to build an informative feedback loop into your test planning when the software is actually live and you can analyze how end users are interacting with it, but there are still plenty of things you can measure and improve on pre-release.

Ultimately, test coverage is something that you have to continually work to improve. Remember to take the lessons learned from one project into the next. Complete test coverage is an unrealistic aim, but these tips should help you to maximize your efforts.