Top Software Testing Methodologies Tech Companies Use

Aleksandra Velickovic

January 29, 2024

One of the essential stages in software development is to test your product as you develop it. After all, that’s why we have beta versions for most digital products, to discover bugs and flaws in the system and fix them before the official launch. But what exactly are the different software testing methodologies that tech companies and IT professionals use? This is what we are here to find out, in this comprehensive guide to software testing.

The Importance of Software Testing

Ask any professional developer and you will hear the same opinion – software testing should be a top priority for any business that is investing time and resources into building software systems or apps, given that any bugs or vulnerabilities could lead to a variety of issues such as losing clients, suffering financial losses, tarnishing your company’s reputation, etc. That’s why businesses invest heavily in professional QA consulting services.

A female QA engineer implementing one of many software testing methodologies.
Testing is paramount during every stage of the software development life cycle.

During the software development life cycle, engineers perform unit tests to check if specific modules are working as intended. They also do integration testing to ensure different components interact properly.

Once a release candidate emerges, quality assurance testers put the software through a battery of manual and automated functional tests to identify any issues with the user experience or functionality.

How does QA work?

Top companies use both in-house and crowdsourced testing. Their QA teams work around the clock, and they tap into networks of freelance testers around the world. Some are also using artificial intelligence to speed up the software testing process. With Al, they can generate synthetic user profiles to simulate how people of diverse backgrounds might interact with the software.

Leading tech firms recognize that testing is an ongoing process, not a one-and-done activity before launch. Their apps and services are constantly evolving, so continuous testing is needed to maintain quality. They monitor key metrics like crash reports, support requests, reviews, and social media chatter to detect problems as quickly as possible.

Software Testing Methodologies Used by Industry Leaders

The biggest tech companies are using innovative methodologies to test their software thoroughly. Here are a few of the approaches used by industry leaders:

Test-Driven Development (TDD)

TDD is a method where you write tests before the actual code. This approach helps you understand the requirements clearly and reduces the development scope by focusing on passing the tests. For instance, a TDD approach ensures that new features in a software application align precisely with the specified requirements. This enhances both the development process and the end product.

Behavior-Driven Development (BDD)

BDD is where you create test cases that are understandable to all stakeholders (including non-technical ones). It is a software testing methodology that focuses on the behaviour of the application. This methodology ensures that the developed features are directly tied to business outcomes and user expectations, making the software more user-centric.

Automated testing

Automated tests run 24/7 and test new code as soon as it’s committed. Companies use tools like Selenium, Appium, and Robot Framework to automate UI testing and API testing. Automated tests find regressions quickly and free up manual testers to focus on exploratory testing.

Continuous integration

Tech giants practice continuous integration, automatically building and testing code after any change. It allows them to detect issues early and release software faster. Companies use tools such as Jenkins, Travis Cl, and GitLab Cl to integrate new code and run automated tests.

Exploratory testing

Even with abundant automated testing, human exploratory testing is still essential. Exploratory testing involves manual testers actively exploring the software to find unseen issues. Exploratory testing complements automated testing and leads to higher quality, user-focused software.

Crowdsourced testing

Some companies use crowdsourced testing in addition to in-house testing. Crowdsourced testing platforms give companies access to thousands of testers with diverse devices, locations, languages, and demographics. This helps ensure high-quality global software releases.

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Ensuring Quality with Automated Testing

Automated testing is critical to releasing high-quality software. Tech companies invest heavily in automated testing frameworks and tools to ensure new features and updates don’t introduce bugs.

Comprehensive test coverage

Leading tech companies aim for a high percentage of automated test coverage for new code. Unit tests verify the functionality of individual modules, while integration tests confirm that units work together as intended.

Companies also invest in automated Ul design testing, load testing, security testing, and more. The more testing that can be automated, the less manual testing is required and the higher the quality bar can be set.

Continuous integration

Continuous integration (CI) is the practice of frequently merging developer working copies to a shared mainline. Cl makes it easier to detect errors and regressions quickly.

When you commit a code, an automated build is triggered, and all tests are run. If the build or tests fail, the team responds immediately. Early detection of issues means faster fixes and less rework.

A diagram of CI as one of the software testing strategies
The CI system maintains a healthy code repository by performing pre-merge checks. (Source: developer.android.com)

Shift left

Progressive tech companies believe in “shifting left” – finding and fixing issues as early as possible in the development cycle. Teams focus on building quality in, not just testing quality out. Expert software developers are highly involved in writing and maintaining automated tests.

Test engineers may coach teams on testing best practices. Leadership provides adequate time and resources for quality practices like design reviews, code reviews, and refactoring.

Test data management

Generating and maintaining test data is challenging. Leading companies invest in testing data management solutions to generate synthetic but realistic test data on demand. Some create “test doubles” – simulated components that mimic the behaviour of external systems. These practices reduce dependency on production data for testing purposes.

To summarize, the highest quality software testing strategies come from a culture focused on quality, starting at the earliest stages of development. Automating as much testing as possible and integrating it continuously into the build process helps set a high bar for quality that benefits both internal teams and end users.

The Role of Manual Testing

Manual testing still plays an important role in software testing methodologies at major tech companies. While automated testing has significant benefits, human testers provide value that automation alone cannot.

Complementing automation

Automated tests are great for repetitive, mundane tasks, but human testers are better suited for complex, subjective testing areas such as:

  • User experience
  • Exploratory testing
  • Creative, “outside the box” thinking

All of these are hard to achieve with automation alone. Many companies use a hybrid approach, with manual and automated testing working together.

Manual testers design test cases and scenarios, which are then supplemented or replaced by automated scripts over time. This allows human testers to focus on high-value, innovative work.

Domain knowledge

Seasoned testers have a wealth of knowledge about the company’s products, customers, and testing practices. This domain expertise takes time to develop but provides significant benefits. Testers can apply their knowledge to uncover issues automation may miss, like:

  • Obscure bugs;
  • Real-world user issues;
  • Edge and corner cases.

They are also well-equipped to determine the severity and priority of issues, helping teams focus their efforts.

Human interaction

While automation is invaluable for software testing, human interaction and feedback remain essential. Things like:

  • Live user experience feedback 
  • Discussions with developers
  • Explaining findings to stakeholders

require human testers. Their communication and collaboration help get the right information to the right people, facilitating quick fixes and prioritization of critical issues.

A woman writing on a whiteboard - a word 'feedback', as one of the top  software testing strategies
You can’t disregard the value of feedback.

In the end, all the technological advancements in the world can’t replace human judgment, creativity, and interaction. For this reason, manual testing remains a crucial part of software testing at many of the world’s leading tech companies. Automation is used to supplement and enhance human testing, not replace it.

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How Google Leverages Automation and Al for Testing

Google is the pioneer of leveraging automation and Al for software testing methodologies. They rely heavily on both to scale testing and release at the incredible pace they do.

Test automation

Google has invested heavily in automating as much of its testing as possible. They use automated unit tests, integration tests, and end-to-end tests to verify software quality at multiple levels. These automated checks run constantly to detect issues early and often.

Al and machine learning

Google also taps into the power of Al and machine learning for testing. They use machine learning models to detect patterns that could indicate a bug or vulnerability. These models get smarter over time as they are exposed to more data.

Al is also used to generate test cases. At Google Scale, manually writing test cases isn’t possible. AI systems can generate tens of thousands of test cases to achieve high test coverage. These Al-generated test cases are combined with human-generated ones for maximum effectiveness.

Crowdsourced testing

Google leverages crowdsourced testing as another popular form of software testing. They tap into a large group of external testers to gain different perspectives. Crowdsourced testers find issues that employees and automation may miss. Google collects feedback and bug reports from the crowd to enhance their testing.

Continuous testing

Underpinning all of these techniques is a culture of continuous testing. At Google, testing isn’t a phase – it’s an ongoing process. Their systems are constantly monitored, tested, and verified to enable fast feedback and quick reactions. Continuous testing, coupled with other software testing methodologies, is how Google achieves a high standard of software quality at scale.

Facebook’s Focus on Exploratory Testing

Facebook has a strong focus on exploratory testing for new software and features. Exploratory testing involves manual testing where testers explore the system, make observations, and experiment with the software without a pre-defined test plan or list of test cases.

Facebook’s software testing methodologies typically follow this process:

  • Testers are given a new software build or feature and asked to explore it for a limited time, such as 30-60 minutes. They are encouraged to click around, try different options and inputs, access different parts of the system, and make observations about anything unexpected or interesting. Notes, screenshots, videos, and bug reports are captured during the exploratory testing sessions. Testers will note areas that need further testing, potential issues, or simply make observations about the user experience.
  • Findings from the exploratory testing are reviewed by the engineering teams. Any critical issues are addressed immediately. Other observations help to determine priorities for more formal testing like creating specific test cases to validate or invalidate the findings.
  • Exploratory testing is an iterative process at Facebook. As new builds are released or features evolve, testers continue exploring and experimenting to identify new issues or areas for improvement.

Exploratory testing complements more formal testing with predefined test plans and test cases.

Key Takeaways for Your Testing Strategy

As you develop a testing strategy for your software or product, keep these key takeaways in mind:

#1: Start testing early

Don’t wait until the end of development to start testing. Begin testing components as soon as you build them to catch issues early on. This allows more time for fixes and reduces the chance of major problems down the road.

#2: Automate when possible

Automated tests can save a significant amount of time. Use automated unit tests, integration tests, and functional tests whenever you can. This frees up human testers to focus on more complex, exploratory testing.

#3: Test on multiple devices/platforms

With so many operating systems, browsers, and devices, testing on just one or two is not enough. Test on as many different platforms and devices as you can to ensure optimal performance and experience for all users.

Get input from real users

In addition to in-house testing, get feedback from real users through beta testing, focus groups, and customer interviews. Real users will interact with your software in unexpected ways and find issues that internal teams might miss.

Continuously improve

Testing software is an iterative process. Review feedback, issues, and metrics to improve your testing procedures and strategies continuously. You can also outsource IT maintenance and support services that will keep your code in check. Rethink your priorities and techniques and make changes to better support your users and business goals.

Conclusion

The testing process is complex with many moving parts, but when done right, it helps create the seamless, innovative digital experiences we’ve all come to know and love. Next time you’re using an app, website, or other software, spare a thought for all the work that went into software testing methodologies and making sure it runs as flawlessly as possible.

Software may be eating the world, but testers are working hard behind the scenes to make sure we don’t end up with indigestion. And Capaciteam can certainly offer its fair share of skilled and resourceful QA testers at affordable hourly rates.

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