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Strategies for dealing with changes in application under test

Strategies for dealing
Changes to an application under test can significantly impact testing efforts. When requirements change or new features get added, corresponding modifications must be made to test cases and scripts. If not handled properly, changes can lead to regression issues andbugs. In this post, we'll explore proven strategies for effectively dealing with changes in an application under test.

Understand Types of Changes

The first step is to understand the types of changes that can occur in an application:
  • Functional Changes: Modifications to existing functionality or new features being added. These impact business logic and workflows.
  • UI Changes: Updates to the user interface like new pages, controls, or flows. These require verification of UI elements and flows.
  • API Changes: Changes to API endpoints, requests, responses, or contracts. Testing must validate integration with updated APIs.
  • Infrastructure Changes: Updates to underlying infrastructure like operating systems, databases, servers, etc. Verify deployment, connectivity, and integration.
  • Configuration Changes: Modifications to application configuration and settings. Confirm handling of config data.
  • Third Party Changes: Changes to interfaces with external systems and dependencies. Regression test integrations.

Classifying the change helps assess the scope of impact on testing.

Update Requirements and Design Tests

The next step is to update requirements and design test cases to cover the changes.
  1. Update any impacted requirements documents, user stories, and specifications.
  2. Expand test coverage to include new or modified areas of the application.
  3. Add negative test cases to verify changes do not introduce defects in unchanged areas.
  4. Update existing tests to align with changes to flows, data, UI, APIs, etc.
  5. Leverage techniques like boundary value analysis to design inputs that exercise changes.
  6. Create data-driven tests with different combinations of parameters.
  7. Prioritize critical test cases for immediate execution.

Thorough test coverage is key to catching defects related to changes.

Assess Automation Impact

Next, determine how existing test automation is affected: identify which automated tests need updating based on application changes, update test data and scripts to align with UI, API, and workflow changes, parameterize inputs to easily run different data combinations through scripts., extend scripts to cover new application flows and scenarios, add validation checkpoints in scripts to test new functionalities, update object locators if UI elements have changed, refactor scripts for maximum reusability and ease of maintenance, leverage auto-healing scripts that can detect and adapt to application changes.
Updating automation is essential for comprehensive regression testing.

Execute Regression Testing

With updated test cases and scripts, execute structured regression testing:
  • First run existing automated scripts to catch issues early.
  • Next execute high priority test cases for changed functionality.
  • Then methodically run medium and low priority tests.
  • When bugs are found, log defects and re-test after resolution.
  • Run negative test cases to confirm no side effects.
  • After sufficient cycles, expand to integration, performance, and security testing.
  • Monitor system health, resource utilization, and logs during testing.
  • Execute smoke tests after deployment to production as final validation.

Rigorous regression testing is key to ensuring changes did not break existing functionality.

Optimize Test Management

There are also test management process improvements that can help:
  • Maintain a traceability matrix mapping requirements to test cases.
  • Use a test management tool for better tracking and reporting.
  • Establish a change control process for visibility into upcoming changes.
  • Actively manage and prioritize the regression test suite.
  • Implement test automation for faster test cycles.
  • Shift testing left by integrating with development processes.
  • Leverage AI for test recommendation and maintenance.

Streamlining test management improves agility in responding to changes.

Key Factors to Consider

When dealing with changes, some key factors to consider include:
  1. Scope of Changes: The breadth of changes dictates the extent of retesting needed.
  2. Timing of Changes: When changes occur in the development lifecycle impacts test planning.
  3. Quality Risks: Assess priority based on risk levels of impacted functionality.
  4. Resources Required: Account for test environment setup, data prep, automation updates.
  5. Time Constraints: Changes can compress testing timelines and require prioritization.
  6. Historical Defects: Use past defects data to guide regression testing.
  7. Defect Clusters: Changes may require focused testing of unstable modules.

Evaluating these factors helps determine the right testing strategies.

Challenges to Overcome

Teams will likely encounter some challenges that must be overcome:
  • Frequent Changes: If changes are happening continually, it can be hard to stabilize testing. Work to balance agility with discipline.
  • Unanticipated Changes: Changes outside of the project plan can disrupt scheduled testing. Build in buffer time and establish control processes.
  • Incomplete Requirements: Requirements lagging behind changes forces guessing at impacts. Collaborate closely with stakeholders for early visibility.
  • Tuning Test Automation: Updating automation alongside changes is difficult. Architect for flexibility and leverage auto-healing scripts.
  • Platform Compatibility: Changes may not be backward compatible, hindering testing on existing platforms. Virtualize hardware or maintain multiple platforms.
  • Integrated Systems: Applications touching multiple systems makes pinpointing root cause of failures difficult. Isolate domains during testing when possible.

Adapting processes to address these dynamics is important for managing changes effectively.

Key Takeaways

Dealing with changes to an application under test can be challenging, but using the right strategies enables teams to accommodate changes seamlessly:
  1. Analyze types of changes and their scope of impact.
  2. Update requirements and expand test coverage to address changes.
  3. Assess automation scripts and data for alignment with changes.
  4. Conduct incremental regression testing with priority focus.
  5. Optimize test management and tools to increase flexibility.
  6. Evaluate key considerations around timing, resources, risks, and constraints.
  7. Adjust processes to overcome issues with frequent changes and incomplete requirements.

With the right approach, teams can limit disruptions and accelerate delivery even with changes occurring. Adopting adaptive and collaborative processes is key to smoothly incorporating changes into testing cycles.