In the current Market, Software testing is considered as an essential activity in software maintenance life cycle. It is a practice that is used to determine and improve software quality. Development is more systematic nowadays and organizations seek measures of testing completeness and effectiveness to establish test completion criteria. For developers, Code coverage is one such measure “Code coverage is the extent to source code is exercised by the test suite. This is expressed in terms of percentage of the total number of statements/lines/arcs of code that are exercised by your tests. If coverage is not 100%, then more tests need to be designed or updated to increase the code coverage”.
On similar lines test coverage helps in monitoring the quality of testing, and assists in helping the testers to create tests that cover areas that are missing or not validated at all.
What is Test Coverage?
It can be defined as the amount of testing performed on the given set of Requirements or simply it can be defined as – “How much testing is done”.
This is neatly and clearly, can be explained using an example which I described below:
Imagine if there is an application under testing having 25 Requirements and assume a tester is working on this. Also, assume he had written set of 100 test cases to execute in total to cover the given requirements and imagine if only 80 cases are executed. So here, we can say the coverage is 80 percent.
Test Coverage = No of Test cases Executed * 100/Total No of Test Cases
A critical observation here would be – what if all the 80 executed cases are passed correctly or if any cases are failed with issues. Again this makes the debate more interesting.
In order to come to an accurate coverage policy most of the companies adopt the ‘Final Test Coverage’ rule. This means, more weight age or more preference would be given for the Coverage calculated for the Last Build i.e. Final Regression Build. This will give a correct coverage of the Test performed for the given Requirements.
Basically, any organization will calculate the Test Coverage in a Functional perspective only. But, in the real-world is Test Coverage with functional mapping and execution is enough? Let’s discuss more on this.
Functional Coverage & Non-Functional Coverage
For any application to release in to Live Server certain rules or Exit Criteria need to be followed. In terms of testing, we do have many things that we need to mandatorily adapt and perform. Security, Performance, Configuration and installation testing’s are few of the things. So why no one speaks about the above-listed terms under Test Coverage. Any application core objective is to functional properly. It means whatever core objective or functional area it is intended to work needs to be working fine. Believe it or not, almost 99% of the testers or in fact companies adopt Test Coverage rule only in terms of functional behavior and core usage of that particular application. But never mind, there will be separate teams in few organizations wherein they will take care of non-functional aspects and they define their own test coverage patterns and objectives.
Please do not confuse between Test Coverage which Testers do and Code Coverage which Developers perform. Both are undoubtedly different and by no means similar. This Article explains everything in the testing perspective only.
How to Adopt a proper Test Coverage method?
The first and foremost thing a QA Manager should look in to is the No. of Requirements that need to be tested, No. of available Resources and the given timelines for release. Each QA person in the Team should be assigned Tasks and once the documentation part is finished the actual testing will begin.
Good way of making more efficiently is to adopt a strategy of assigning complex tasks to more skillful tester and medium level tasks to an average tester. Once all the cases and scenarios are framed out, the next step is to make use of the Requirements Matrix to map all the cases. Here a Tester will use of this Matrix to start and stop his testing and the final coverage matrix can be framed based on a particular testers work.
A drafted Coverage Matrix can look something like the one below:
|Test Type||Total Cases||Executed Cases||Status||Comments|
|Functional||100||80||50 pass , 30 fail|
|Compatibility||100||50||45 pass, 5 fail|
|Usability||100||100||98 pass, 2 fail|
|Final Regression||100||100||99 pass, 1 fail|
Similarly, we can create our own test coverage frames for different type of testing we do. Either it could be a non-functional or functional part.
Not to confuse more, some companies adopt Test Coverage for all In and Out testing methods. But for a Build to release and for formal decision making, the above elements are sufficient which are more specific to functional aspect and user-friendliness.
How to Attain more Test Coverage in Lesser time:
In any Team, every tester should be aware of the testing methods he is following. He or she should also be aware of the functionality for the given Requirements. So what makes him a smart person to get maximum coverage in lesser time? Let’s find out how and why.
- Use of Automation Tools: One of the modern testing techniques any company or in fact any testing group can adopt is the usage of Automation Tool. Today in the Market we got plenty of tools which make a testers life easy.
- Prioritizing Requirements: Prioritization of Requirements is one thing which everyone can initiate. Grouping the given Requirements in to Complex, Medium and simple priorities enables one to focus actively on their tasks. One more major thing any tester can do is to know the most important features to be released next. More Focus should be on the new Requirements that are going live in next release. All the Test Cases of those particular features should be well passed enough and thus helps in gaining maximum Positive coverage.
- Impact Analysis: Identifying impacts in the initial Builds and thus escalating the need of elimination of these impacts would really help achieve in high coverage in further upcoming Builds.
- Smart Work Allocation: Assigning more complex tasks to a smart or well experienced tester would definitely help the cause of more coverage in less time. Smart persons always tend to find a way of completing their work in less time with efficiency.
- Maintain Checklist: Maintaining a check note or checklist for all the Core interactions under the given module/tasks can help in efficient task coverage and maintenance. More Interaction with development unit or the Scrum masters would really help in the in-depth purpose or need of the given Requirement. Which enables testers to know about the actual Requirement well before the Build is released to testing.
- Build Management: Reducing the No of Build cycles to QA. A Project Manager should keep track of all the fixes and impacts of the current Build and should make sure QA received clean Build with efficient fixes. If the no of impacts increase the test coverage tend to decrease drastically. (Here more Testing need to be done for the impacts raised and more amount of time and coverage would be wasted)
Effective ways of Covering tests:
- Resource jumbling: Tasks exchange for resources will surely help in filtering out some minor bugs here and there. Person working on only one module regularly may tend to miss tiny issues some times. If the same module is tested by a lay man who don’t know the core part but at least he can try and explore himself and in the process there is every change that he may find a new issue. Time may come when the main tester is out of Office and others need to work for him and the above scenario would at least eradicate any basic issues in the solution.
- Compatibility coverage: Whenever any task is being tested, it can be tested in different browsers or environments in parallel. This makes the application to undergo compatibility along with functional instead of doing it separately later on.
- Ownership: Make Testers Accountable for the module testing they are assigned for. This enables them to own more responsibility and thus imposes the same theory for the junior persons working along with them.
- Deadline: Knowing the release deadline prior to the commencement of testing phase. This would help in effective planning for entry criteria and make things easier for the QA departments.
- Communication: No time should be wasted in knowing the unknown things in between the build cycles. Attention to detail is more important and everything must be clarified with no time wasted. Thus helping out in more work efficiency and Quality.
Main advantages in calculating Test Coverage:
Maintaining Test Coverage matrix provides us the accurate observation in knowing the Build stability. All missing things can be drafted or Red marked and thus a tester can follow up and work on those as per the need or priorities. It gives a clear picture to the QA Manager or Project Manager of what is done, what is missing, and what needs to be done in increasing the testing and quality of the Build. Helps in decision making whether a Build can be released with so and so testing still in progress or pending. Can act a good derivative to the Stake Holders or Clients, based on which they can hint on for the release schedule.
Advantages for a Tester in implementing Test Coverage:
- Can able to figure out more useful and less useful test cases, based on which the testing priorities can be planned.
- Good Traceability between the given Requirements and generated Test cases
- Helps in giving preferences as per the client need or can say in urgent needs.
- Impacts Analysis can be done
- Increases the Multitasking ability of a Tester. A Single tester may require to work on multiple tasks in less time.
- Useful in figuring out EXIT criteria
- Enables a Test Lead to prepare a Clear Test Closure Report
More amount of Testing will certainly increase the test Coverage resulting in swallowing more testing timelines. By know we should be coming to a conclusion that it’s a wrong assumption. Perhaps, adopting effective ways of testing methods and practices will also certainly increase the Test coverage and quality effectively and more importantly in lesser timelines. Teams Following testing guidelines tends to achieve higher Quality percentages with less Build cycles, which improves the delivery speed in a more accountable manner.