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When launching a software program, you need to be confident that it will perform as intended and provide users with an optimal experience. If the software has not been through the appropriate quality assurance processes, you risk releasing a substandard product that doesn’t  add value, is unreliable and has damaging effects on the business’s reputation. 

So what role does software testing play in the software development cycle and is it really necessary? In this blog post, we explain what software testing is, discuss its purpose and tell you why it should be a key part of your quality assurance processes.

What is software testing?

Software testing is the process of evaluating a software program with the aim of finding out whether it meets the specified requirements set out at the planning stage. In other words, software testing ensures that your software does what you want it to do and doesn’t do anything you don’t want it to do. 

There are various different types of software testing practices, including:

Functional testing

This is a type of black-box testing whereby a quality assurance software tester checks that the software application operates in accordance with the requirement specifications. It helps you to find out whether each function or feature of your software actually works as it’s meant to. Functional testing can include a wide range of processes, including unit testing, smoke testing, integration test, UAT (User Acceptance Testing) and more. 

Non-functional testing

This type of testing is concerned with the non-functional aspects of a software application, such as usability, reliability and performance. Non-functional testing can involve a whole host of checks, including endurance testing, system testing, security testing, data governance testing and more. 

Automated testing

This involves a separate software program or suite of programs checking your software against requirements. The automated tools follow scripted sequences to execute test cases to see if your software behaves as it’s designed to. Automated testing can involve processes such as API testing, UI testing, unit testing and more. 

Maintenance testing

This type of testing is carried out after a software program has been released. It is used to test existing features and also to check new functionalities that are added when software is modified or upgraded. Maintenance testing can include regression testing and testing that is regularly performed to ensure the software is still operating correctly.

What is the purpose of software testing?

Ultimately, the purpose of software testing is to help ensure that a software product operates in line with both business, technical and user requirements. Specifically, its objectives include:

  • Verifying that the software conforms to the technical specifications set out at the planning stage. This usually involves checking documents, code and designs to ensure the software has been built in line with requirements. 
  • Validating that the software program meets user requirements and has the potential to achieve the desired results for the business. 
  • Finding and preventing defects that may cause the software to crash or fail when going live or that may impede the functionality or reliability of the application. 
  • Gathering information about the software, including any defects or bugs it has. This data can be used to prevent and fix future issues and to give stakeholders more insight into the software and its development and performance.
  • Ensuring compatibility with different operating systems and device types.
  • Ensuring optimal user experience through rigorous checks to find out how easy the software is to use and whether it delivers an enjoyable experience.

How software testing is important

Software testing is a vital part of any software development cycle. It should begin early in development  so that bugs and defects can be identified and eliminated as soon as possible, and it should be part of each phase of the cycle so that issues can be engineered out as the program develops. 

Software testing is highly beneficial in a great number of ways. For example, it can:

Reduce costs

Software testing can prevent you from investing money in the development of a program that isn’t fit for purpose or doesn’t achieve the desired results for your business or clients.

Help to delight customers

Launching a software program that is glitchy or defective can cause frustration and annoyance to customers and may be enough to prevent them from interacting with your brand again. For example, if your payment system doesn’t allow customers to input their details, they may be put off ever purchasing from your business again. When you deliver quality software that truly adds value for your clients, you stand a better chance of building a satisfied and loyal customer base.

Prevent catastrophe

There are many real-life examples of catastrophic events caused by defective software. For example, British Airways has experienced critical systems failures that caused hundreds of flights to be delayed and cancelled, causing chaos, disruption and financial loss. In an even more serious case of software failure, defective flight-control system have led to plane crashes.

Enhance security

If your software is not up to standard, you could be faced with a security breach that compromises the data of your customers and damages the integrity and reputation of your firm.