Performance testing and its role in quality assurance

Quality Assurance (QA) is the complex process of checking whether a product meets specific requirements and expectations. It helps developers establish goals and define quality standards.
QA is also responsible with identifying and solving defects and deficiencies before the product gets released on the market.
A key software development component, quality assurance has become a topic of debate in this field, as new methodologies and approaches are being introduced.
The topics also include performance testing, an often underrated procedure that plays an important role in software testing and QA in general.
Enterprises and organizations that suffer from performance related problems make the mistake of not testing software under real world scenarios, an issue tackled directly by this new method of testing.

What is performance testing

Performance testing is part of quality assurance and involves testing software in order to make sure that it will perform well and it will meet all expectations even under critical conditions.
As a non-functional type of testing, it allows developers establish how efficient the response of the application is in the worst possible scenarios.
Unlike bug tracking systems, which have the sole purpose of tracking bugs and defects, performance testing systems are supposed to identify and eliminate performance bottlenecks.
This type of QA testing methodology focuses on speed, scalability and stability.
How fast the application responds in the worst conditions, how much user load it can handle and how stable it is under different loads are questions that performance testing needs to find answers for.
The final purpose is to enhance the user experience and boost the revenue, determine the difference between expectations and real performance and establish when the product is ready for production.

What are the different types of performance testing

There are seven main types of performance testing that can give you a clue about the real importance of QA in software development:
  • Performance test: It checks stability, scalability, performance and throughput.
  • Capacity test: It identifies how many users the application can handle until the performance and stability levels are altered.
  • Soak test: It determines whether the stability and performance of the software drops in time.
  • Load test: It involves imposing a load in order to see and measure the outcome.
  • Component test: It helps identifying performance problems with specific components.
  • Stress test: It has the sole purpose of pushing the application and making it perform under the worst conditions, helping developers determine which components are more prone to fail first.
  • Smoke test: It is conducted to show that the application performs as expected under normal conditions. The term is based on hardware testing where smoke is considered a clear clue of failure and no further tests are conducted.

Common performance testing mistakes

The most common mistake made in this field is failing to test the performance of the software in the beginning during its design phase.
Incorporating certain performance procedures from the start of the project will prevent the emergence of performance issues.
It is better to prevent than to cure, considering the fact that rework is waste. The same problems surface when the testing is started at the very end of the development phase.
Another common mistake is not taking into consideration all possible real world scenarios.
A single use case scenario will not help you determine the real performance value of your software.
Running tests from a single system is yet another common mistake.
A single location will not allow you to see how the application reacts within a different firewall or hardware configuration for example.

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