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Enterprise Mobility Blog, Mobile App Testing

Conquering Mobile App Testing Challenges

Following is part two of our two-part series on mobile app testing in the enterprise. Last updated July 29, 2016. Read part one here.

How to Kick-start Mobile App Testing

What Makes Mobile App Testing So Challenging?Recognizing mobility’s challenges is the first step to successful mobile app testing. The next step is deciding how to get started.

Today’s QA and testing teams cannot tackle mobile testing by relying solely on approaches used with desktop and web applications nor think that a 100% manual approach is the answer.

Doing so may quickly result in missed deadlines, inadequate testing, poor app quality and mobile users needing tremendous amounts of support.

Instead, QA and testing teams must adopt the right mix of existing technologies, new testing tools and best practices designed specifically to support mobile app testing.

Currently, a vast majority of mobile application testing is manual.

The reason many organizations started with manual testing is simple: mobility became so commonplace so fast that there were no tools to adequately support automated testing. While some viable solutions have since appeared, many QA teams have been slow to adopt them.

In addition, many companies are rolling out just one or two apps, so at present QA appears to have enough time to test manually.  These scenarios are similar to the man who jumped off the top of the Empire State building; as he passed the 70th floor on his way down, he was heard to remark, “So far, so good. What’s the problem?”

Add Fuel to Your Mobile App Testing Fire

The number of mobility projects, however, is exploding.

In fact, many companies will soon have backlogs that include 40, 50 or even more mobile applications.

Factor in aggressive deployment cycles and the rapid patch rate, and it’s clear that manual testing alone cannot succeed—without a change of approach, the enterprise will fail to deliver quality apps on-time and on-budget. Automated testing must be added to the arsenal, and quickly.

While manual testing has a place in QA and development, in order to keep up with the increasing volume and the complexity of mobility, QA teams must determine the right balance between manual and automated testing, because both play a role in today’s mobile-focused app testing labs.

QA teams will deliver higher-quality applications by knowing when and what to automate while manually testing where appropriate.  Bench-checking, demonstrations, code reviews, user acceptance testing, and verifying that code meets requirements are all appropriate candidates for manual testing.

When an app reaches the point of acceptance, however, it is time to create an automated test that can be used for both functional regression (as app code changes) and platform regression (as the platform changes).

The original automated test script is written to show that the app functions as designed.

Further executions of that same test script should demonstrate that, despite app or platform changes, the app still functions as designed.  Fixes for defects found by automated regression are very powerful preventatives to future customer support and customer satisfaction complaints.

Tackling New Complexities with Existing Skill Sets and Automation

There is some good news in the mobility mix.

Although testing mobile apps uses a very different technology base (devices and operating systems) than web and desktop, enterprises may not need a whole new skill set and labor force to get started. The right tools can leverage prior investments by enabling an automation toolset that already exists in the ecosystem to handle mobility.

When selecting a functional and regression testing tool, it makes sense to find one designed and architected specifically for an already-existing testing framework.

Tools that test web and desktop can be enabled, with the right technology, to test mobility, providing immediate ROI and productivity. Through seamless integration with an already-implemented test automation framework, teams can quickly apply their web or desktop testing skills to mobility.

With this approach, QA teams can:

  • Leverage previous investments in a testing framework and associated methodologies and training, for a faster and better mobility ROI
  • Write test scripts within hours of installing the mobile app testing tools, greatly reducing the time needed for mobile app script creation and reducing maintenance
  • Construct repeatable and verifiable function and regression tests by using the existing scripting framework
  • Save time and money

An automated testing tool that supports test automation should also make it easy to manage and perform manual testing as well.

Finally, an automated testing tool should integrate mobile app testing with other end-to-end testing, enabling engineers to test associated apps and back-end systems and their interactions with the mobile app.

The automation tool should use a common scripting approach across mobile devices and operating systems. Picking a tool with a common object model allows an automation engineer to write and execute a single script across multiple mobile device platforms, reducing the amount of time needed to build an automated mobile test suite.

Benefits of Automating Mobile App Testing

By automating functional and regression testing, IT can achieve the following:

  • Streamline testing, which fast-tracks app deployment
  • Greatly enhance app reliability and reduce support costs
  • Identify high-priority bugs faster
  • Minimize the number of defects in future releases
  • Detect when OS changes or patches may force app re-work
  • Allow QA to spend more time actually testing apps rather than fixing test cases
  • Leverage the existing debugging capabilities of the already-implemented test automation framework by taking advantage of the framework’s support for teams, versioning, debugging, performance testing and reporting

An automated functional and regression testing tool for mobile applications ensures that an app functions as designed across all targeted OS’s and devices, while also improving tester productivity as compared to exclusively manual testing.

In addition, a critical payback earned by automating functional testing is that once it is completed on one mobile platform, the scripts can easily be adopted for other platforms. Automated regression testing ensures apps function as designed after changes to the app, the mobile operating system or both.

Finding a Balance

Mobile app testing challenges require QA and testing teams to adopt new strategies, technologies and best practices to support mobile app testing.

IT must acknowledge that automation is no longer a “nice to have” given mobility’s rapid rate of change and users’ high expectations for application complexity. In order to keep up with the influx of work and app functionality requirements while also delivering high-quality, reliable applications, QA must determine WHAT to automate, not IF it should automate.

At the same time, QA must recognize and appreciate the role that manual testing has and will continue to play.

Striking the right balance between manual and automated testing means arming testers with the strategies, tools and skills they’ll need as app volumes and complexities rapidly multiply.

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