Software Engineering-Strategic Issues

Even the best strategy will fail if a series of overriding issues are not addressed. Tom Gilb  argues that the following issues must be addressed if a successful software testing strategy is to be implemented:

Specify product requirements in a quantifiable manner long before testing commences. Although the overriding objective of testing is to find errors, a good testing strategy also assesses other quality characteristics such as portability, maintainability, and usability . These should be specified in a way that is measurable so that testing results are unambiguous.

State testing objectives explicitly. The specific objectives of testing should be stated in measurable terms. For example, test effectiveness, test coverage, mean time to failure, the cost to find and fix defects, remaining defect density or frequency of occurrence, and test work-hours per regression test all should be stated within the test plan .

Understand the users of the software and develop a profile for each user category. Use-cases that describe the interaction scenario for each class of user can reduce overall testing effort by focusing testing on actual use of the product.

Develop a testing plan that emphasizes “rapid cycle testing.” Gilb  recommends that a software engineering team “learn to test in rapid cycles (2 percent of project effort) of customer-useful, at least field ‘trialable,’ increments of functionality and/or quality improvement.” The feedback generated from these rapid cycle tests can be used to control quality levels and the corresponding test strategies.

Build “robust” software that is designed to test itself. Software should be designed in a manner that uses antibugging techniques. That is, software should be capable of diagnosing certain classes of errors. In addition, the design should accommodate automated testing and regression testing.

Use effective formal technical reviews as a filter prior to testing. Formal technical reviews  can be as effective as testing in uncovering errors. For this reason, reviews can reduce the amount of testing effort that is required to produce high-quality software.

Conduct formal technical reviews to assess the test strategy and test cases themselves. Formal technical reviews can uncover inconsistencies, omissions, and outright errors in the testing approach. This saves time and also improves product quality.

Develop a continuous improvement approach for the testing process. The test strategy should be measured. The metrics collected during testing should be used as part of a statistical process control approach for software testing.
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