Testing Alone Can’t Save You
NOV 7, 2013

Testing Alone Can’t Save You

By Brent Melson, Director of Technology and Development, Intertek

Software testing has been front and center in the news lately. Specifically, whether or not it could have prevented some of the frustrations users have encountered with service-based websites, conversions to the latest operating systems, and executing new versions of mobile applications.

As an employee of one of the world’s largest testing companies, I’d love to be able to tell you that testing is the answer. I’d love to be able to say, “If they’d just tested that website, the face of healthcare would be much different today,” or, “If you just test that application, it won’t ever crash and the user experience will be ideal.”

Except I can’t say that, because it isn’t true.

Testing alone doesn’t save anything. It doesn’t save websites, it doesn’t save applications, it doesn’t save products. What testing does do, better than anything else, is communicate when things aren’t quite ready for primetime. Testing can point out issues in design, in functionality or in performance. But if that testing comes too late in the development process, or nothing is done with the results, then all the testing in the world isn’t worth a thing.

One of the most common mistakes in development is not allowing a proper amount of time for acceptance testing, and not integrating contingency plans in the development process when testing uncovers serious issues. What if your test results indicate major flaws in the code, or doesn’t comply with app store regulations, or it turns out your app simply doesn’t work on the devices you thought it would? Conducting testing a day before launch isn’t going to give you enough time to fix these types of issues, let alone retest once they’re fixed.

Testing should be seen as an important part of the development process; one that can provide you with valuable information you can use to improve your software’s design, functionality or performance. So when you look at what point in the process to incorporate testing, ask yourself when you will most need the insights testing can provide to you, and how much time you want to allow to make those changes and then retest. If you work with a solid testing partner, you can typically get results back within a day or two, so it’s worth the time and effort when the result is a website that doesn’t crash, or an application that loads quickly and performs to spec.

Testing alone won’t save the day. But testing early enough, with a feedback loop in place to take advantage of the insights that testing provides, will save you – and your users – a lot of headaches.


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