has been a wonderful experience working towards this certification with
your training program, and I would give a very high recommendation to
any future users.
Newsletter Issue 57
Risk-based Mobile Testing
Risk-based testing is a long-standing best practice,
but can you apply it to mobile testing? Absolutely! In this short
article, we'll review what risk-based testing is, and then explain
how it can be applied to testing mobile apps. Risk-based testing will
help you focus on what to test, how much, and in what order on your
mobile apps, which, given the timescales of mobile app testing, is
more critical than ever before.
For any realistic-sized system, testing cannot reduce
the risk of failure in production to zero, due to the impossibility
of exhaustive testing. While testing does reduce the risk of failure
in production, most approaches to testing reduce risk in a suboptimal
and opaque fashion.
Risk-based testing allows you to select test
conditions, allocate effort for each condition, and prioritize the
conditions in such a way as to maximize the amount of risk reduction
obtained for any given amount of testing. Further, risk based testing
allows reporting of test results in terms of which risks have been
mitigated and which risks have not.
Risk-based testing starts with a process of analyzing
risk to the quality of the system. First, you work with your fellow
project team members to identify what could go wrong with the system.
These are the quality risks, or, to use another common name, the
product risks. In risk-based testing, these quality risks are
potential test conditions. To determine which of the risks are
test conditions, you and your colleagues assess the level of each
risk. Important risks will be tested. The effort of testing
associated with each risk depends on its level of risk. The order in
which a risk is tested depends on its level of risk, too.
To clarify terms a bit, we can informally define risk
as a possible negative outcome. The two key elements are
possibility and negativity. A risk is neither impossible nor
certain. If a risk becomes an outcome, that outcome is undesirable.
Risks are of different levels, as we know from real
life. The easiest way to assess the level of risk is to use two
factors: likelihood and impact. Likelihood has to do with the
odds of a risk becoming an outcome. Impact has to do with the
financial, reputational, safety, mission, and business consequences
if the risk does become an outcome.
For example, people buy life insurance for premature
death. As the saying goes, insurance is a bet that you want to lose.
For all insurance, it's likely that you will pay more than you ever
collect, and you're happy if that's the case.
Considering life insurance, premature death is
unlikely, unless you engage in highly self-destructive lifestyle
behaviors. (Of course, in that case the life insurance
companies won't insure you.) So, premature death has a low
likelihood. However, the impact can be very high. For example,
suppose you are a primary breadwinner for your family, you have three
kids, all under 18, and you die. Unless you have life insurance-or
you had the good sense of being born with inherited wealth-that will
be a devastating event for your family.
It can work the other way, too. For example, in many
places in the world, going outside in the summer involves the risk of
mosquito bites. The likelihood is very high. Usually-barring unusual
disease outbreaks-the impact is very low. So, this is a risk managed
through clothing, nets, and skin lotions, rather than insurance.
Testing software prior to release reduces the
likelihood of undetected, serious bugs escaping into production;
i.e., it reduces risk to overall system quality. Anything that could
go wrong and reduce product quality, that's a quality risk. In
addition to quality risks, there is another kind of risk, called
project risks. Project risks are bad things that could happen that
would affect your ability to carry out the project successfully.
Here are some examples of quality risks:
responds too slowly to user input during log in
calculates an incorrect total on the user's monthly bill
crashes when users enter long names, addresses, or other
information during account creation
Here are some examples of project risks:
project participant quits prior to the end of the project
needed for testing not delivered in time
sponsors cancel project funding during project
Let's summarize the risk-based software testing
process. We analyze the quality risks, identifying the risks, and
then assessing their level based on likelihood and impact. Based on
the level of risk, we will determine what to test, how much, and in
what order. By doing so, we will minimize the residual level of risk
for the system as a whole.
© 2017, RBCS, All Rights Reserved
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