Testing a product is essential in ensuring that quality & performance standards are maintained. Although most firms realize this fact and allocate sizable resources towards maintaining QA teams, there is always a possibility of encountering a scenario where the testing workload is too large to be handled by the current size of the testing team.
Depending on the resources that a firm possesses, there are two major ways of dealing with this scenario.
- Adequate Resources: Expand or Outsource
In case of a company that possesses adequate resources & assets, the most straightforward way of dealing with a lack of testers is to either expand the existing QA team by hiring new testers or to outsource the QA responsibilities to an independent external QA team on a project basis. However, most projects and their parent organizations run on tight budgets and it may not the wisest of solutions to increase spending.
- Inadequate Resources
Very commonly, software development firms cannot afford to allocate any additional resources for expanding/outsourcing QA. In this case, the best way to deal with the lack of testers is by employing different strategies that either reduce workload or accelerate testing.
- Prioritized Testing - Since organizations cannot test the entire project with a limited team size, they need to identify the most important parts of their project from a business perspective and prioritize their testing first. Some of the most important forms of priority-based testing include:
- Testing the functionality that forms the core intended purpose of the project
- Testing the features that may result in financial impact/losses
- Testing the most business-critical, safety-relevant features
- Testing the features that are most visible to end-users – the UI/UX
- Testing the features identified by stakeholders themselves as “high priority”
- Targeted Testing - Organizations can utilize the limited number of testers at their disposal to target and test only the most functionally/logically vulnerable parts of a project that is most likely to cause issues during operation. Some of the most important forms of targeted testing include:
- Testing the functionality that has, in previous iterations, required large number of bug fixes
- Testing features that were rushed into development due to time constraints/stakeholder pressure
- Testing functionality with highly complex logic
- Testing previously identified high-risk functionality
- Automated Testing - Automated testing simplifies the overall testing process by employing scripts that can, without human intervention, execute test cases on their own. Tasks that are abnormally large and repetitive in nature are the best candidates for automation. In the event of a shortage of testers, a bulk of any and every test case that can be automated, must be automated. This will not only accelerate the overall testing process but will also free the existing QA team to concentrate on testing the most critical aspects of a project.
- Pairwise Testing - The overall functioning of most applications depends on combinations of multiple variables and their values. Rather than testing the application for each and every combination of such variables, pairwise testing covers all possible discrete combinations. This means that while it isn’t exhaustive in nature, pairwise testing offers a very high degree of coverage with a drastically lower number of test cases, thereby allowing even small QA teams to test a project with sufficient detail.
- 3R Testing - When the software under development is the successor of an already existing software, the 3R technique can be implemented for best results. The 3R technique deals with a lack of testers by optimizing the testing process to get more done for less. The 3Rs involved are: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
-> “Reduce” refers to reducing the number of test cases by primarily concentrating on the changed aspects of the software alone. This is accompanied by identifying test cases that do not require a rerun for the new version and eliminating any test cases deemed obsolete.
-> “Reuse” involves the reuse of test suites that were created for previous versions of a software and applying them to test cases that require being rerun for the newer version of the software.
-> “Recycle” involves identifying results of a test case that may be used as inputs for other test cases. It also involves extracting unit test cases from system test cases.
To conclude, working with a small team of testers requires compromise on a few fronts. In most cases, this means it is not possible to guarantee the kind of thorough quality assurance that a full-capacity testing team could have achieved. However, strategic application of techniques such as those discussed above can help greatly in achieving a competent level of testing that ensures a reasonable degree of reliability.