Poor application performance can be fatal for your enterprise, avoid app degradation with application performance testing

If you’ve ever wondered what can possibly go wrong’ after creating a foolproof app, think again. Democrats’ Iowa Caucus voting app is a case in point. The Iowa caucus post-mortem pointed towards a flawed software development process and insufficient testing.

The enterprise software market is predicted to touch US$230,134.0m in 2021, and the revenue is expected to grow with a CAGR of 9.1% leading to a market volume of US$326,285.5m by 2025. It is important that enterprises aggressively work towards getting their application performance testing efforts on track to ensure that all the individual components that go into the making of the app provide superior responses to ensure a better customer experience.

Banking app outages have also been pretty rampant in recent times putting the spotlight on the importance of application performance testing. Customers of Barclays, Santander, and HSBC suffered immensely when their mobile apps suddenly went down. It’s not as if banks worldwide are not digitally equipped. They dedicate at least 2-3 percent of their revenue to information technology along with additional expenses on building a superior IT infrastructure. What they also need is early and continuous performance testing to address and minimize the occurrence of such issues.

It is important that the application performs well not just when it goes live but later too. We give you a quick lowdown on application performance testing to help you gear up to meet modern-day challenges.

Application performance testing objectives

In general, users today, have little or no tolerance for bugs or poor response times. A faulty code can also lead to serious bottlenecks that can eventually lead to slowdown or downtime. Meanwhile, bottlenecks can arise from CPU utilization, disk usage, operating system limitations, or hardware issues.

Enterprises, therefore, need to conduct performance testing regularly to:

  • Ensure the app performs as expected
  • Identify and eliminate bottlenecks through continuous monitoring
  • Identify & eliminate limitations imposed by certain components
  • Identify and act on the causes of poor performance
  • Minimize implementation risks

Application performance testing parameters

Performance testing is based on various parameters that include load, stress, spike, endurance, volume, and scalability. Resilient apps can withstand increasing workloads, high volumes of data, and sudden or repetitive spikes in users and/or transactions.

As such, performance testing ensures that the app is designed keeping peak operations in mind and all components comprising the app function as a cohesive unit to meet consumer requirements.
No matter how complex the app is, performance testing teams are often required to take the following steps:

  • Setting the performance criteria – Performance benchmarks need to be set and criteria should be identified in order to decide the course of the testing.
  • Adopting a user-centric approach – Every user is different and it is always a good idea to simulate a variety of end-users to imagine diverse scenarios and test for use cases accordingly. You would therefore need to factor in expected usage patterns, the peak times, length of an average session within the application, how many times do users use the application in a day, what is the most commonly used screen for the app, etc.
  • Evaluating the testing environment – It is important to understand the production environment, the tools available for testing, and the hardware, software, and configurations to be used before beginning the testing process. This helps us understand the challenges and plan accordingly.
  • Monitoring for the best user experience – Constant monitoring is an important step in application performance testing. It will give you answers to what, when, and why’ helping you fine-tune the performance of the application. How long does it take for the app to load, how does the latest deployment compare to previous ones, how well does the app perform while backend performances occur, etc. are things you need to assess. It is important that you leverage your performance scripts well with proper correlations, and monitor performance baselines for your database to ensure it can manage fresh data loads without diluting the user experience.
  • Re-engineering and re-testing – The tests can be rerun as required to review and analyze results, and fine-tune again if necessary.

Early Performance Testing

Test early. Why wait for users to complain when you can proactively run tests early in the development lifecycle to check for application readiness and performance? In the current (micro) service-oriented architecture approach, as soon as the component or an interface is built, performance testing at a smaller scale can allow us to uncover issues w.r.t concurrency, response time/latency, SLA, etc. This will allow us to identify bottlenecks early and gain confidence in the product as it is being built.

Performance testing best practices

For the app to perform optimally, you must adopt testing practices that can alleviate performance issues across all stages of the app cycle.

Our top recommendations are as follows:

  • Build a comprehensive performance model – Understand your system’s capacity to be ready for concurrent users, simultaneous requests, response times, system scalability, and user satisfaction. The app load time, for instance, is a critical metric irrespective of the industry you belong to. Mobile app load times can hugely impact consumer choices as highlighted in a study by Akamai which suggested conversion rates reduce by half and bounce rate increases by 6% if a mobile site load time goes up from 1 second to 3. It is therefore important that you factor in the changing needs of customers to build trust, loyalty, and offer a smooth user experience.
  • Update your test suite – The pace of technology is such that new development tools will debut all the time. It is therefore important for application performance testing teams to ensure they sharpen their skills often and are equipped with the latest testing tools and methodologies.

An application may boast of incredible functionality, but without the right application architecture, it won’t impress much. Some of the best brands have suffered heavily due to poor application performance. While Google lost about $2.3 million due to the massive outage that occurred in December 2020, AWS suffered a major outage after Amazon added a small amount of capacity to its Kinesis servers.

So, the next time you decide to put your application performance testing efforts on the back burner, you might as well ask yourself ‘what would be the cost of failure’?

Tide over application performance challenges with Trigent

With decades of experience and a bunch of the finest testing tools, our teams are equipped to help you across the gamut of application performance right from testing to engineering. We test apps for reliability, scalability, and performance while monitoring them continuously with real-time data and analytics.

Allow us to help you lead in the world of apps. Request a demo now.

Improve the quality of digital experiences with Performance Engineering

Quality at the heart of business performance

“In 2020, the key expectation is fast, reliable, and trustworthy software.” *

As businesses embrace the Agile/DevOps culture and the emphasis on CI/CD is growing, quality assurance is seen as a standalone task, limited to validating functionalities implemented. When QA and Testing is an afterthought in an Agile/DevOps culture, the result is a subpar consumer experience followed by an adverse impact on the revenue pipeline. Poor customer experience also directly impacts brand credibility and business equity. While UI/UX are the visible elements of the customer experience, product, or service performance is a critical element that is often neglected. Performance Testing identifies the gaps that are addressed through Performance Engineering.

Small steps, significant gains – the journey towards Performance Engineering

The deeper issue lies in the organization’s approach towards quality and testing – it is considered an independent phase rather than looked upon as a collaborative and an integrated approach. Performance engineering is a set of methodologies that identifies potential risks and bottlenecks early on in the development stage of the product and addresses them. It goes without saying that performance is an essential ingredient in the quality of the product, there’s a deeper need for change in thinking – to think proactively, anticipate early in the development cycle, test and deliver a quality experience to the end consumer. An organization that makes gradual changes in its journey towards performance engineering stands to gain significantly. The leadership team, the product management, and the engineering and DevOps at different levels need to take the shift-left approach towards performance engineering.

Make Performance Engineering your strategic priority today

Despite the obvious advantages, performance testing is typically a reactive measure that is addressed after the initial launch. However, organizations need to embrace performance engineering measures right from the design phase, start small, and take incremental steps towards change.

Covid-19 has rapidly changed the way consumers behave globally. Businesses caught onto remote working; consumers moved shopping, entertainment, banking, learning, and medical consultations online. Consider the quantum jump in usage triggered by the pandemic.

The dramatic increase in the use of digital services has covered decades in days.**

Companies that adopted scalability and performance centric design have moved swiftly to capture the market opportunity.

With multiple user-interfaces across sectors being the norm and the increasing complexity of digital experiences, it is critical for businesses to get it right the first time in order to gain and retain customers’ trust.

As cloud migrations continue, whether rehosting the app on an IaaS or rebuilding a new approach, performance engineering ensures that migrated systems withstand sudden surges in usage. According to a Sogeti and Neotys report, 74% of the load testing infrastructure is operated in the cloud today. Cloud infrastructure providers ensure reliability but they may not be aware of the performance metrics that matter to the business and their impact. As organizations move from monolithic systems to distributed architectures provided by an assortment of companies, corporate leaders need to recognize the importance of performance engineering and embrace it to deliver the right solutions for the first time.

Our approach to Performance Engineering philosophy

At Trigent, we put the customer experience at the heart of planning the entire testing cycle. Our performance engineering practices align with ‘metrics that matter’ to businesses in the DevOps framework. While testing identifies the gaps in performance, the onus of architecting it right lies on the DevOps engineering team with proactive inputs from QA and Testing.

Performance engineering is also a way of thinking, the ability to plan for performance at the time of design, right at the beginning. As for quality, besides testing for functionality, anticipating potential bottlenecks helps us assess the process in its entirety in the beginning.

Asking some of these customer-centric questions early on shifts the perspective right at the outset. Ask them early, and you’re on your way to a performance engineering culture.

Parameters that matter

‘Will my application meet the defined response-time requirements of my customers?’

Consider an app that doesn’t respond within the expected standards of the customer; the chances of that application making it to the customer’s phone screen is pretty slim.

‘Will the application handle the expected user load and beyond?’

An application that tested well with 10 users may fail when that number is multiplied by a thousand or two.

We take the viewpoints of multiple stakeholders, consider parameters that matter to the customer, and assess impact early on.

Customer experience matters

Performance Engineering takes into account the overall experience of the end-user and their environment.

Asking pertinent questions such as ‘Will my users experience acceptable response times, even during peak hours?’ or ‘Does the application respond quickly enough for the intended users?’ does well to anticipate potential pitfalls in network usage and latency.

‘Where are the bottlenecks in my multi-user environment?’

Understand the real environment of the user and their challenges to provide a quality user experience.

Early Focus

The non-functional aspects are integrated into the DevOps and an early focus on performance enables us to gain insights into architectural issues.

‘How can we optimize the multi-user application before it goes live?
‘How can we detect errors that only occur under real-load conditions?

Quick course corrections help optimize performance and make the product market-ready. Besides faster deployment, quality assurance gives our clients an added advantage of reduced performance costs.

Architect it right

‘What system capacity is required to handle the expected load?’
‘Will the application handle the number of transactions required by the business?’

Important questions like these focus on architecting the product for performance. As part of the performance engineering methodology, our teams consistently check and validate the capabilities at the time of developing the product or scaling it up. We take the shift-left and shift-right approach to anticipate, identify, and remove bottlenecks early on. Getting the architecture right enables us to deliver and deploy a high-quality product every time.

Performance engineering done right is sure to improve the planning-to-deployment time with high-quality products. Plus, it reduces performance costs arising out of unforeseen issues. A step-by-step approach in testing makes sure organizations move towards achieving performance engineering. Talk to our experts for scalable performance engineering solutions for your business.

Learn more about Trigent software testing services.


Reference:
* The State of Performance Engineering 2020 – A Sogeti and Neotys report
** Meet the next-normal consumer – A McKinsey & Company report

Responsible Testing in the Times of COVID

As a software tester, I have ensured that software products and applications function and perform as expected. My team has been at the forefront of using the latest tools and platforms to enable a minimal defect product for the market release. We are proud to have exceeded industry standards in terms of defect escape ratios.

The health scare COVID has interrupted almost all industries and processes, but society is resilient, never gives up, and life (and business) must go on. We are up to the task and giving our best in adapting to the testing times and situations.

Testing times for a software tester

While we have leveraged existing resources and technology to run umpteen tests in the past, the current pandemic that has enveloped the world has put us in unchartered territory. While our clients understand the gravity of the situation, they also need to keep their business running. We now work from home and continue testing products just like before without interruption. There have been challenges, but we have ensured business continuity to protect our client from any adverse impact of this disruption. From our testers struggling to adapt to the new world order, I would like to share how we sailed through these trying times. It might help you do what you do best, test!

Ensure access, security/integrity

As testers, we work in different environments such as on-prem, on the cloud, or the client-side cloud environment. Working from a secure office environment, we have access to all environments. It is not the same anymore, as we now use public networks. The best and most secure way to access governed environments is to connect via a VPN to access different environments securely. VPN’s offer secure, pre-engineered access and provide additional levels of bandwidth and control.

Use cloud-devices for compatibility tests

Testing applications for different platforms and devices is simpler at the workplace as we have ready access to company-owned devices (some of which are expensive). It’s not the same when working from home. Besides, these devices cannot be a shared resource. The unavailability of devices cannot act as a blockade. I am leveraging the cloud using resources such as SauceLab, Devicefarm alongside options such as simulators and emulators configured on my system.

Augment access speed for reliable testing

One concern working from home is the need for a dependable, high-speed internet connection. However, I signed up with a service provider offering verified speed. I buttressed my connectivity by arranging for an alternate internet connection from a different service provider with similar bandwidth capability. I made a distinction between these networks as network1 and network2, ensuring that the networks get utilized for the designated purpose, and bandwidth issues avoided.

Coordinate test plans with collaboration utilities

In the initial days of the work-from-home arrangement, I found it difficult to coordinate with the team and there were productivity concerns. This is when we decided to chalk a schedule to address coordination issues. We decided to better utilize the messenger tools provided to us for seamless communication. As a first step towards making optimal use of these messenger tools we drew guidelines on the do’s and don’ts to optimally use our time. This article penned by a senior colleague worked as a handy reference on using one such communication tool.

The future looks uncertain with Covid’s impact deepening by the day. In these times when everything looks uncertain we as responsible testers can play our role in ensuring that we are available to our partners and help products and apps reach their respective audience.

Five Business Benefits of On-Demand Testing

Constantly shifting economic conditions has resulted in businesses tightening their IT budgets to control costs and remain competitive. However, while budgets are limited, expectations from IT managers are only growing larger. Most companies today have an online presence, and they need to frequently upgrade and innovate their offerings to stay competitive. This has led to new features, apps, and products being unleashed at a rapid space. There is also an uncompromising world of usability that requires released products and apps to be fault-free. However, the bottom line is, budgets remain controlled.

On-demand testing or Testing as a Service (TaaS) is a realistic option for stringent budgets and tight deadlines. Reliable service providers, who offer on-demand testing, have the capabilities for testing in cloud-based or on-premise environments. More often than not, these providers have a wide array of tools, assets, frameworks, and test environments.

End-to-end testing services that you need on on-demand basis.

On-demand testing is offered by companies that are confident of taking on the responsibility of transferred ownership. For QA and IT managers, the risks attached to testing and the costs for tools can be assigned to service providers thereby immediately diminishing both risk and added expenditures.

Unlike other services, on-demand testing is demanding in its expectations. Those offering this service cannot afford to escape, bugs, slipped deadlines, and, therefore, the advantages far outweigh the effort involved in sourcing the right partner.

Some of the benefits of On-Demand Testing are:

1. As costs are negotiated and finalized with the partner, the probability of unexpected expenses is brought down considerably. There is a commitment agreed upon and that helps in better budget allocation. There are instances where clients have experienced over 50 percent savings in costs. However, the savings are dependent on the choice of the service provider.

2. Dynamic and scalable testing requirements benefit from on-demand testing, where the partner’s team can depute several test engineers on to the job, reducing testing time drastically. For example, imagine a small number of 3-5 in house engineers who are caught up in multiple projects, to a dedicated team of any number of test engineers focused on a single project. The advantage in terms of time spent can itself become a key advantage.

3. On-demand testing is especially useful for load, performance, and last-mile testing where real-life scenarios need to be created. With real-life test environments at their disposal, service providers are capable of maximizing test coverage and results in limited time frames.

4. Time-to-market can be reduced when partners are involved, as they will help to plan and schedule test cycles without any delays. In such cases, the saved time can be at least 30 percent.

5. Reliable on-demand testing service providers offer standardized infrastructure, frameworks, and pre-configured environments to ensure that configuration errors do not creep in after release.

Trigent’s SwifTest is a pay-as-you-go software testing service that is best suited to gain instant access to qualified professional software testers without any long-term contracts. Trigent will perform end-to-end functional testing of your web or mobile applications. Our service is offered on inclusive environments of mobile devices, operating systems, and browsers – to help you validate your product at a pace faster than traditional outsourced testing service. Our certified testing specialists will ensure all user functions (links, menus, buttons, etc.) are working properly on target devices and browsers. We’ll perform exploratory testing and follow your specified test steps. This Development-QA follow-the-sun model reduces project duration and increases responsiveness. You pay only for the time that you engage our QA engineers/team-as little as one day (8 hours) / a week / or a month.
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The Role of QA in an Agile Model

Quality Assurance & Software testing over the years has mostly been treated as an isolated function in project development. However, in agile methodology, testing is an integral part of the software or system development lifecycle.

Agile methodology involves continuous iterations of both the development and software testing activities for a project. It requires the involvement of all the developers working on a project to work in parallel with the testing team, to ensure that the business requirements of the customer are met on schedule.

Among teams that do not adhere to the agile manifesto, the role of the tester is limited to writing test cases, executing them, logging the defects, and verifying them. But in agile methodology, the tester works as a part of the development team and ensures that software quality assurance is built into the end product by working closely with the development team.

With the agile methodology gaining popularity, system testing, or application testing as a process, has transformed and testers today play a key role in the overall project development process. This requires testers to not only have strong testing skills but also good domain knowledge. Testing engineers, therefore, need to get adjusted to this new test strategy of rapidly changing requirements.

Key attributes of testers working on an Agile model are as follows:

Testers need to do a lot more than just building test cases:

The testers in the traditional waterfall model are involved at the end of the project when the coding is complete when the QA is expected to execute the test cases to verify if the built features match the requirements or not.

But in the Agile model, the QA adds more value to the project. Her role is not just restricted to the building and execution of the test cases but works closely with the developers, BA, Product Owner, and so forth. In this scenario, the QA can write acceptance test cases for the Product Owner and work and interact with the Product Owner in order to ask questions and clarifications regarding the business requirements.

Testers need to collaborate and coordinate with the developers and the end customer:

In an Agile model the QA tester needs to continuously provide the testing feedback to the customer and in turn collect feedback from them after each sprint. Agile testers need to look from different perspectives i.e. end-user, business, developer, support and in order to achieve this, the quality assurance needs to coordinate with all of them. In some cases, the QA tester works as the Proxy Product Owner too to help them to develop the acceptance criteria for their user stories.

In the Agile model, developers and testers at times collaborate to write test cases as the acceptance criteria. The coordination among the team especially quality assurance and developers reduces doubts and ensures that all are on the same page. Also it saves the coding time of developers.

Testers need to have automation testing skills:

It is always an add-on if a tester knows about automation testing tools. Testers with automation skills can help prepare the test scripts and test plans for better coverage which helps in an agile project with a sprint of 2-4 weeks. Automation also helps during the regression testing of the project by providing quick feedback.

Every time a new build is given for testing the QA can run the automation scripts and provide rapid feedback on whether the new features, as well as the old features, are working correctly or not.

Testers help in estimation:

The QA always writes the test cases/scenarios for an application which covers both the happy path and unhappy paths. This helps for accurate estimation of user stories based on the clarity they have after identifying the positive and negative flows.

Testers needs to participate in demos:

After the completion of each sprint, a demo is given to the customer and other stakeholders of all the features completed in that sprint. As we know, a typical sprint lasts for 2-4 weeks and in such a short span all the people involved are busy in completing their own things; the developers are busy in developing the assigned user stories and the QA is busy testing the released items, clarifying the questions from Product Owners and automating the same. In such a short span the developers sometimes find it difficult to finish the complete functionality of the assigned user stories. So the developers sometimes consult the QA as they have a better understanding of the application. Hence it would be a good practice if the demo to the client is carried out by the QA and thereafter quality assurance can answer all the business related questions coming from the client. This way the developers can take care of technical queries from the customer.

Testers need to analyze the requirements:

The QA in the Agile model, is in a good position, after the BA to analyze requirements because the application is always used by the QA from the end user’s point of view. Hence the QA helps the customer by providing them timely feedback based on their testing experiences.

The QA should be a part of all the retrospectives and review meetings to contribute to overall process improvement and requirement understanding.

To summarize, the QA is an important and integral part of the team who is involved in all phases of the software development cycle. To put it in the right perspective, testers do more than “Just Testing”!

Ensuring maximum test coverage and managing timeline – Software Quality Assurance

What is Software Quality Assurance?

“Quality Assurance” is the calling card for a software testing services provider. No matter how robust a software application is, its failure to perform at a critical instance can prove fatal to clients. Through the lens of history, it has been observed that enterprises spend more on bug fixes as compared to developing software applications.

Though an in-depth analysis of quality is outside the scope of this post, I will give a round-up on “Quality Assurance” by ensuring maximum test coverage as a means of achieving sustained client relationships.

One of the common challenges for a software testing team is to deliver projects within the time-frame yet ensure maximum test coverage. Software testing is not a one size fits all solution for problems as testers have to drill deeper to explore bug fixes that can damage the quality of an application. Though a solution to this is not readily available, however, we may need to arrive at one, based on the project circumstances/needs.

Before I set out for a solution, let us explore some of the possible risks/outcomes of not meeting the time-frame/maximum coverage:

a) Time Frame Overshoot: Time Consuming Delivery, Client Dissatisfaction, Extra Cost, Extended Time to market

b) No Coverage: No confidence in product quality, buggy product, user dissatisfaction, extra cost in fixing issues and re-releasing the product, etc.

“Time Limit” is a management activity, but from a tester’s perspective, we run on a pretty tight schedule and have to focus primarily on ensuring maximum coverage within the prescribed time limit. We have to ensure the application performs its function time after time. And to achieve this, we can develop a few handy utilities/tools like the one I have described below:

1) Develop a complete test suite, which includes:

  1. Test case for all functionality of the application
  2. Critical Functionality of the application being identified and filterable
  3. Prioritize test case as high/medium/low

[Benefits]: Allows to “Pick & Choose” test cases for execution based on:

  1. Critical module/function
  2. High Priority test cases
  3. Regression testing cases based on Change/Bug Fix in the current build

2) Optimize test scenarios:

  1. Eliminate repetitive and non-valuable tests that may yield the same results as other tests in the suite.
  2. Effective Coverage: Focus on combination testing using orthogonal array-based mathematical model tools like All Pairs, PICT, etc., and Decision Tables.

[Benefits]: Provides minimum scenarios covering all possible combinations which are non-repetitive and valuable in predicting the result.

3) Automated  Regression Suite – Automate all possible regression test cases

[Benefits]: Ensures execution and coverage of all mandatory flows without much manual intervention, even during crunch situations

4) Focused Testing: Apart from the above in case we have a very tight deadline, it is always preferable to focus the testing efforts on some critical areas like:

  1. Areas that may be vulnerable to changes and yield more bug fixes
  2. Areas that have yielded more bugs in the past
  3. Areas which are exposed to the End User or User Critical

Summary:

All the above utilities applied together will provide a cohesive framework to guide a tester or a development team to maximize test coverage and achieve greater quality within the stipulated time limit. However, it also depends on the tester’s knack for choosing the “Minimum most test cases” to draw upon insights that can help solve similar issues.

In the process, if the user over emphasizes minimizing the test cases to meet the time limit or if the area of focus is incorrect, he may miss out in terms of coverage and may lead to under testing. Hence the tester should wisely balance in choosing the right focus area and the right test cases for the build and plan to execute them within the given time frame. If the tester feels that the selected/shortlisted test cases cannot be run in the given time frame, it is always advisable to buy more time. And in case that is not possible, it’s prudent to alert the stakeholders about what test cases have been ignored and which modules are under-tested.

Ignore “Quality Assurance” in your services road-map and you do so at your own peril.