Risk-based Testing — When and How?

What's the latest on Risk-based Testing?  Software testing has undergone a dramatic change lately. Testers can manage risk more effectively. | Functionize

What's the latest on Risk-based Testing?  Software testing has undergone a dramatic change lately. Testers can manage risk more effectively. | Functionize

November 20, 2018
Geoffrey Shenk

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What's the latest on Risk-based Testing?  Software testing has undergone a dramatic change lately. Testers can manage risk more effectively. | Functionize

QA as insurance for managing risk

Empowering Test Automation

This post covers Risk-based Testing in the QA industry. Test management tools help testers prioritize risks and inform business stakeholders on overall testing status. Using test automation tools like Functionize, testers can manage risk more effectively.

Software testing has undergone a dramatic change in recent years. This corresponds to the adoption of Agile development and DevOps delivery. Fast-pace production and frequent releases increase the potential for error.

In addition, greater momentum increases company exposure to both quality and security risks. Consequently, CTOs want to avoid problems that surface after a product release. 

Technology leaders need to have full confidence that they are making the best ROI in QA technology

Think about it: Nearly the entire job of a software tester concerns risk mitigation. Therefore, priority in test design should be given to tests that will mitigate risk most effectively. So, we ask: To what extent does test automation ensure thorough testing and validation? 

How can methodology changes help teams avoid risk? Answers to these questions are critical factors that determine the quality of deployment 

Risk-based Testing

Buying insurance against failure

To guard business interests that link to software quality, testers must be able to identify and manage risks. At the heart of Risk-based Testing!

When a QA team acts upon a solid risk management strategy, it is likely to release high quality products. Furthermore, if a QA team charter includes security testing, it’s vital to make an investment in testing automation. For such products, it’s critical to avoid any breach that might cause catastrophic damage to the company.

Risk-based Testing - Warren Buffet quote about risk

Identify software testing risks

Performing a risk assessment is an important part of QA budget planning and tool selection.

Testing risks include timelines that are too short, and also lack of definition in the project scope. In addition, inadequate resources can be a risk. Volatile requirements are especially risky.

Some challenges are easy to manage. However, to better anticipate tougher challenges, it’s necessary to get better knowledge about each one. 

These are some of the important factors to consider as you prepare your risk assessment:

  • What defines risk at your company?
  • How many users would experience negative effects from a major outage or performance issue?
  • What market loss would result from significant downtime?
  • Also, consider the probability that a worst-case scenario will happen.
  • To what extent would buggy software annoy your customers?
  • Very importantly, remember that complexity increases risk. Is there any unnecessary complexity in your application?

Choose a QA risk management approach

At the forefront of QA

After a QA team researches and evaluates potential risks, team leaders should outline a risk management plan. Moreover, it’s important to rank each risk according to the impact on function and user experience.

The plan should contain specifics on how to avoid deficiencies that would cause failure. After that, those specifics can become part of the testing suite.

Often, it isn’t possible to fully mitigate all risks. Briefly, these are some strategies that your team can adopt to prioritize risk management:

  • Avoid the risk entirely
  • Transfer the risk to another party
  • Reduce the negative impact of the risk
  • Accept the consequences of the risk (often suitable for low-impact risks)

Beyond risk avoidance, active risk management enables the QA team to mitigate threats. In addition, the entire team can gain confidence with more stable releases—and happy stakeholders.

Optimize test management to manage risk

Simple spreadsheets and charts are often inadequate for capturing risk. A major reason is that many critical issues don’t arise until test execution. A confident risk management approach helps a team better prepare for surprise circumstances.

This is because many of the risks are already built into test designs. Test management tools help testers correlate and prioritize risks. In addition, robust tools also inform business stakeholders on overall testing status.

Effective testing risk management specifications include:

  • A high volume of test builds
  • Insufficient time for regressions
  • Incomplete validations
  • Metrics that are unrecognizable, misapplied, or remain unresolved

Using robust test automation tools like those in the Functionize, testers can manage risk much more effectively.

Functionize and Risk-based testing

Test automation introduces additional risks into a development processes. Conventional automation frameworks can easily generate script recordings. The major flaw in such scripts is that they are quite brittle.

That is to say, any code changes immediately render most automated test scripts useless. Badly-maintained scripts may lead a team to abandon test automation altogether.

Though we live in an exciting time, it will do us all good to remain sober. However brilliant it may be, any technology requires human validation.  

For example, testers should review all results from our Root-Cause Analysis (RCA) engine, one of our many innovative approaches to reducing test maintenance. Sometimes, there may be an application problem. 

On the other hand, it may be a problem with a test. If a test needs adjustment, the update is likely to be one of the suggestions that Functionize provides. This is one of many ways that Functionize enables Risk-based testing and lowers exposure to failure.