Software Testing is an investigation carried out to provide information about the service or product to the stakeholders. It also provides and independent view to allow people to understand the inherent risks involved in using that software.
Thus, it serves as a warning system and prevents possible losses if implemented correctly.
Different users require different software. For e.g. a banker would need banking software and a gamer would need gaming software. Hence, when a company develops or distributes software, it should be able to judge whether its product is acceptable or not to its end customer and software testing allows it to do that. According to a recent study by NIST, bugs in software costs $60 billion annually to the US economy. A third of this can be avoided by conducting better software testing.
There are various reasons for bugs in software like programming errors, compatibility with earlier / later versions, hardware compatibility, etc. Software testing aims at examining the code and also executing it under test conditions. Few techniques used for this purpose are: 1) Black box 2) White box 3) Grey box 4) Integration, 5) Regression, 6) Acceptance 7) Non functional and 8) Destructive testing.
As a common practice, an independent test group does software testing before the product is delivered to the customer. There are many approaches towards software testing. It can be conducted on basic modules or units of the software individually. This is called unit testing. It can also be conducted on the entire software at the same time by putting it through some test cases. This is called system testing. It can be done to check its compatibility with other hardware and software. This is called integration test. Before the product is dispatched to the client, additional tests called alpha and beta tests are done. Alpha testing includes testing the final version of the product by treating the testers as the end users. Beta test is done after alpha testing by distributing the product to a select audience outside the testing group for feedback.
Test Management is advantageous as to an extent it can highlight bugs in the code, test the software compatibility with other hardware and software and predict customer response to a product. The limitation of software testing is that it is unable to test under all operating conditions. It can only test the product’s failure under limited test conditions. There are many certification programs that certify professional software testers. However, no certification today actually checks the software tester’s knowledge and ability in his field. A certification alone is unable to guarantee the tester’s capability hence many believe this filed isn’t ready for certification yet. However, it is a fast emerging field and promises exciting careers for its aspirants.