A Comprehensive Manual on Enhancing Testing Coverage in Software Testing: Techniques to Increase Testing, Save Resources, and Obtain Optimal Testing Outcomes:
Software testing is an essential part of software development and maintenance. It is routinely used to determine and boost the quality of software.
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Contemporary development procedures are systematic, and companies intend to assess testing completeness and efficacy to define test completion benchmarks. Among these evaluations, coverage is especially significant.
Insights you will gain:
- What is Testing Coverage?
- Testing Coverage and Code Coverage
- Personal Experience
- Interpreting Testing Coverage
- Techniques to Identify the Correct Testing Coverage Method
- Ways to Verify Everything is Fully Tested
- Vital Areas and Tactics for Efficient Testing
- Benefits of Being Acquainted with Testing Coverage as a Tester
- Final Thoughts
What is Testing Coverage?
Briefly, testing coverage implies, “What elements are we testing and How thoroughly are we testing?”
Testing coverage aids in controlling the standard of testing and helps testers in designing tests that address overlooked or unverified areas.
Majority of teams base their coverage estimates entirely on functional requirements. This seems appropriate since an application’s primary objective is to deliver its designated functionality. If the application fails to achieve this, aspects like speed, security, and usability lose relevance.
However, if dedicated and standalone non-functional testing teams are partaking in activities like performance, security, usability testing, etc., they should monitor their requirements from creation to execution utilizing test coverage analytics.
Testing Coverage and Code Coverage
Testing coverage is frequently confused with code coverage. While they base on similar foundational principles, they represent different notions.
Code coverage concentrates solely on unit testing practices that strive to scrutinize all code sections at least once, and is overseen by developers.
Conversely, testing coverage involves assessing each requirement at least once and is typically a responsibility of the QA team.
The definition of a “covered” requirement can vary between teams.
For example, certain teams regard a requirement as covered if it is associated with at least one test case. Other teams see it as covered if at least one team member is assigned to it, or if all test cases relating to the requirement are executed.
- If there are 10 requirements and 100 tests generated, and these 100 tests include all 10 requirements, this is deemed satisfactory testing coverage at the design stage.
- But, if from this equation only 80 tests are executed and they only cover 6 of the requirements, then 4 requirements remain uncovered, despite achieving 80% testing completion. This depicts coverage statistics at the execution stage.
- Also, if only 90 tests from the initial 100, which pertain to 8 requirements, have assigned testers while the remaining tests do not, the test assignment coverage is seen as 80% (8 out of 10 requirements).
Another key consideration is the timing of the coverage calculation.
If coverage is evaluated too early in the process, there will likely be many gaps due to incomplete tasks. Consequently, the general recommendation is to wait until the Final Regression Build to calculate coverage. This provides an accurate snapshot of the tests conducted for the given requirements.
Also read: Release and Deployment Management Process
Flashback to 8 years earlier: When I had only two years of experience in the software testing field, I believed that a certain level of ignorance about foundational software testing knowledge was permissible since it could be gathered through experience.
My conception was somewhat accurate and somewhat incorrect.
I was accurate in the sense that through experience, one acquires a broader viewpoint, a more profound comprehension of critical conditions, and better insight into user expectations.
However, I was incorrect because these skills do not essentially need experience but rather early learning, a conclusion I only comprehended much later. This realization inspired me to compile this post.
Here is an excerpt from one of my interviews during that era:
“How do you assure that test coverage is complete or maximized?” I was inquired.
Ummm……I make sure that I test each functionality, I retorted.
So do you imply that by testing all functionalities, you believe that you have accomplished maximum coverage of the application/product in terms of testing? the interviewer rebutted.
Ummm…well….ummm….yes, because when you test all functionalities, you can be confident about the application/product’s performance, I justified my answer.
I comprehend, but my question is – does it really provide a guarantee that your testing coverage is comprehensive or complete? the interviewer persisted.
At that very moment, I started to get irritated, not knowing that I was about to comprehend one of the most crucial facets of software testing – “Testing coverage”.
Instead of putting forth the entire interview, I will summarize what I learned about testing coverage on that day. However, it is crucial to note that testing coverage is not about deciding whether you are testing sufficiently or testing flawlessly.
Interpreting Testing Coverage
Understanding testing coverage can vary based on the scenario. Let’s delve into these scenarios:
Product coverage – Which sections of the product did you test?
In evaluating testing coverage in relation to a product, the main question is which parts of the product have been tested and which sections are yet to be tested.
If the product being tested is a “knife,” your focus should not only be on whether it cuts vegetables/fruits effectively. There are other aspects to inspect, such as confirming the users can handle it comfortably.
If the application under test is a “notepad,” it is crucial to examine the relevant features. However, other elements should also be regarded, such as confirming that the application operates properly when used in conjunction with other applications, avoiding crashes when the user performs unusual operations, providing understandable and beneficial warning/error messages, and confirming user-friendly usage and availability of help content.
If these scenarios are not accounted for, it cannot be asserted that testing coverage for the application is exhaustive.
Risk coverage – Which risks have you accounted for?
Risk coverage is another critical facet of comprehensive testing coverage. The product or application cannot be considered “tested” until the associated risks have been fully considered. For complete testing coverage, reflection on associated risks plays a significant role.
Assume you are validating an airplane, and a tester claims to have thoroughly tested the internal system of the airplane, which is functioning perfectly. However, the tester did not include testing the airplane’s flying capacity. How would you respond to this?
This is a clear example of risk coverage. Identifying and testing risks that are unique to the application/product is a crucial task.
The tester while validating an e-commerce site, covers all the major factors but overlooks the risk of an upsurge in user traffic during a promotional event. Ignoring this risk proves to be a significant neglect on the Super OFFER day when traffic surges are common.
Requirements coverage – Which requirements have you accounted for?
A well-crafted product or application may fail if it does not meet customer requirements. So, testing coverage must be inclusive of testing requirements as well.
Imagine the excitement of a family event and you ask a tailor to sew a dress with peacock-blue shoe buttons on the neckline.
However, the tailor decides that those buttons on the neckline will not look good, so he sews a golden-colored edge instead. On the day of the trial, the unhappy customer confronts the tailor for not adhering to the stated requirements.
While validating a chat application, the tester considers all the vital points, such as multiple people chatting in a group, two people chatting independently, availability of various emoticons, real-time updates, etc. However, the tester forgets about the requirement document, which clearly stipulates that two users chatting independently should have the facility of video calling.
The client advertises the chat application based on the claim that it allows video calling while two users chat independently. The repercussions for the chat application are not hard to predict.
Techniques to Identify the Correct Testing Coverage Method
Becoming aware is a fundamental step:
Prioritize understanding what the task entails and the current status of design tasks. This knowledge allows the QA team to determine if extra tests should be incorporated. Using the Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) is a commonly used practice to achieve this goal.
=> Investigate this article for more data on RTM and the method to use it: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Requirements Traceability Matrix with a Sample Template Included
Furthermore, scrutinize resource assignments and the test execution method to ensure that everything is being validated in the most resource-efficient manner.
A table similar to the one below could be beneficial:
|50 successful, 30 unsuccessful
|45 successful, 5 unsuccessful
|98 successful, 2 unsuccessful
|99 successful, 1 unsuccessful
Ways to Verify Everything is Fully Tested
- Ensure that every tester comprehends the requirements and the testing methods well.
- Rank requirements and concentrate efforts where they are most required.
- Stay updated on the differences between a particular release and the previous one. This permits accurate identification of crucial requirements and a concentration on achieving maximum positive coverage.
- Implement Test Automation.
- Utilize Test Management Tools to remain updated.
- Strategically assign tasks, using experienced resources for critical tasks and allowing new testers to navigate for a fresh perspective.
- Retain a checklist for all assignments and miscellaneous tasks.
- Facilitate more interaction with development, Scrum, and business analysis teams to understand application behavior better.
- Monitor build cycles and improvements.
- Identify major problems in the initial builds if possible so that subsequent builds can address stability and unblock previously impacted areas.
Vital Areas and Tactics for Efficient Testing
#1) Resource rotation: Exchange duties among team members to increase involvement and prevent knowledge concentration.
#2) Compatibility coverage: Ensure that testing encompasses different browsers and platforms for compatibility.
#3) Ownership: Make testers answerable and encourage them to take charge of the modules/tasks they are given. This inculcates a sense of responsibility and motivates them to experiment with creative testing strategies instead of following predefined paths.
#4) Deadlines: Having knowledge of release deadlines in advance aids efficient planning.
#5) Communication: Maintain regular communication with the development and other teams to stay informed about ongoing activities.
#6) Maintain an RTM: Formulating a Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) is beneficial for stakeholders and clients. It helps affirm release schedules based on testing coverage.
Benefits of Being Acquainted with Testing Coverage as a Tester
- Facilitates prioritization of testing tasks.
- Ensures 100% coverage of requirements, eliminating requirement gaps.
- Makes impact analysis simpler.
- Helpful in establishing exit criteria.
- Enables the test lead to design a comprehensive test closure report.
Testing coverage is more encompassing than the contexts mentioned above. There are many other aspects to consider when aiming for exhaustive testing coverage.
Testing more is not always better. In fact, testing extensively without a clear strategy can result in wasted time and effort.
By adopting a structured approach, emphasizing 100% requirement coverage, and leveraging effective testing methods, quality is not compromised.
We sincerely hope that the strategies illustrated in this article prove useful.
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