2.6: Systems Testing
- Page ID
Software testing is an investigation conducted to provide stakeholders with information about the quality of the software product or service under test. Software testing can also provide an objective, independent view of the software to allow the business to appreciate and understand the risks of software implementation. Test techniques include the process of executing a program or application with the intent of finding software bugs (errors or other defects), and verifying that the software product is fit for use.
Software testing involves the execution of a software component or system component to evaluate one or more properties of interest. In general, these properties indicate the extent to which the component or system under test:
- meets the requirements that guided its design and development,
- responds correctly to all kinds of inputs,
- performs its functions within an acceptable time,
- is sufficiently usable,
- can be installed and run in its intended environments, and
- achieves the general result its stakeholders desire.
As the number of possible tests for even simple software components is practically infinite, all software testing uses some strategy to select tests that are feasible for the available time and resources. As a result, software testing typically (but not exclusively) attempts to execute a program or application with the intent of finding software bugs (errors or other defects). The job of testing is an iterative process as when one bug is fixed, it can illuminate other, deeper bugs, or can even create new ones.
Software testing can provide objective, independent information about the quality of software and risk of its failure to users or sponsors.
Software testing can be conducted as soon as executable software (even if partially complete) exists. The overall approach to software development often determines when and how testing is conducted. For example, in a phased process, most testing occurs after system requirements have been defined and then implemented in testable programs. In contrast, under an agile approach, requirements, programming, and testing are often done concurrently.
A test plan documents the strategy that will be used to verify and ensure that a product or system meets its design specifications and other requirements. A test plan is usually prepared by or with significant input from test engineers.
Depending on the product and the responsibility of the organization to which the test plan applies, a test plan may include a strategy for one or more of the following:
- Design Verification or Compliance test – to be performed during the development or approval stages of the product, typically on a small sample of units.
- Manufacturing or Production test – to be performed during preparation or assembly of the product in an ongoing manner for purposes of performance verification and quality control.
- Acceptance or Commissioning test – to be performed at the time of delivery or installation of the product.
- Service and Repair test – to be performed as required over the service life of the product.
- Regression test – to be performed on an existing operational product, to verify that existing functionality was not negatively affected when other aspects of the environment were changed (e.g., upgrading the platform on which an existing application runs).
A complex system may have a high level test plan to address the overall requirements and supporting test plans to address the design details of subsystems and components.
Test plan document formats can be as varied as the products and organizations to which they apply. There are three major elements that should be described in the test plan: Test Coverage, Test Methods, and Test Responsibilities. These are also used in a formal test strategy.
System testing is testing conducted on a complete integrated system to evaluate the system's compliance with its specified requirements.
System testing takes, as its input, all of the integrated components that have passed integration testing. The purpose of integration testing is to detect any inconsistencies between the units that are integrated together (called assemblages). System testing seeks to detect defects both within the "inter-assemblages" and also within the system as a whole. The actual result is the behavior produced or observed when a component or system is tested.
System testing is performed on the entire system in the context of either functional requirement specifications (FRS) or system requirement specification (SRS), or both. System testing tests not only the design, but also the behaviour and even the believed expectations of the customer. It is also intended to test up to and beyond the bounds defined in the software or hardware requirements specification(s).
Integration testing (sometimes called integration and testing, abbreviated I&T) is the phase in software testing in which individual software modules are combined and tested as a group. Integration testing is conducted to evaluate the compliance of a system or component with specified functional requirements. It occurs after unit testing and before validation testing. Integration testing takes as its input modules that have been unit tested, groups them in larger aggregates, applies tests defined in an integration test plan to those aggregates, and delivers as its output the integrated system ready for system testing.
In computer programming, unit testing is a software testing method by which individual units of source code—sets of one or more computer program modules together with associated control data, usage procedures, and operating procedures—are tested to determine whether they are fit for use.
User Acceptance Testing
User acceptance testing (UAT) consists of a process of verifying that a solution works for the user. It is not system testing (ensuring software does not crash and meets documented requirements) but rather ensures that the solution will work for the user (i.e. tests that the user accepts the solution); software vendors often refer to this as "Beta testing".
This testing should be undertaken by a subject-matter expert (SME), preferably the owner or client of the solution under test, and provide a summary of the findings for confirmation to proceed after trial or review. In software development, UAT as one of the final stages of a project often occurs before a client or customer accepts the new system. Users of the system perform tests in line with what would occur in real-life scenarios.
It is important that the materials given to the tester be similar to the materials that the end user will have. Testers should be given real-life scenarios such as the three most common or difficult tasks that the users they represent will undertake.
The UAT acts as a final verification of the required business functionality and proper functioning of the system, emulating real-world conditions on behalf of the paying client or a specific large customer. If the software works as required and without issues during normal use, one can reasonably extrapolate the same level of stability in production.
User tests, usually performed by clients or by end-users, do not normally focus on identifying simple cosmetic problems such as spelling errors, nor on showstopper defects, such as software crashes; testers and developers identify and fix these issues during earlier unit testing, integration testing, and system testing phases.
UAT should be executed against test scenarios.Test scenarios usually differ from System or Functional test cases in that they represent a "player" or "user" journey. The broad nature of the test scenario ensures that the focus is on the journey and not on technical or system-specific details, staying away from "click-by-click" test steps to allow for a variance in users' behaviour. Test scenarios can be broken down into logical "days", which are usually where the actor (player/customer/operator) or system (backoffice, front end) changes.
In industry, a common UAT is a factory acceptance test (FAT). This test takes place before installation of the equipment. Most of the time testers not only check that the equipment meets the specification, but also that it is fully functional. A FAT usually includes a check of completeness, a verification against contractual requirements, a proof of functionality (either by simulation or a conventional function test) and a final inspection.
The results of these tests give clients confidence in how the system will perform in production. There may also be legal or contractual requirements for acceptance of the system.
To View Supplemental Materials