Today, software development companies are increasingly attracting independent testers to the project team. And this trend is gaining strength every day. Recently, I also had the opportunity to try on the role of an independent testing consultant.
The need for an independent specialist arises in cases where the team cannot independently solve complex technical and process problems. As a rule, this concerns a narrow direction of testing, for example, mobile, as it was in my case. Often it is an independent specialist who is able to take the testing process to the next level, which helps to increase the number of satisfied users.
I started my work as a mobile consultant on the Telecom project. One of the clients of our company is a large mobile operator that used the Telecom system to provide services. System testing was carried out by our specialists.
As part of expanding its customer audience, the company decided to acquire a mobile application for the most popular platforms for giving IT Professional Services. The application was intended for users of mobile communication services and allowed changing tariffs and numbers, purchasing additional packages of calls and traffic.
The task of launching the application became a real challenge for the entire team. Professionals in the field of testing web applications and telecom systems were unable to take into account all aspects and subtleties of testing mobile applications. The project needed a person who would not complete testing tasks, but would only advise the team on all emerging issues and adjust the strategy taking into account the peculiarities of the mobile world. So the decision was made to attract an independent consultant to the project, which literally saved the situation.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF A CONSULTANT
Projects in the field of Telecom systems, as a rule, are quite voluminous. They have complex business logic and detailed architecture. Without a detailed understanding of the system’s operation, a simple tester will not be able to successfully cope with their tasks. However, for a consultant who will not run test cases, some aspects of the business logic can be omitted. That is why immersion in a project takes much less time.
On the other hand, the expert must study in detail those architectural components that directly interact with the mobile client. And here there will be no trifles. You need to understand absolutely everything: from the structure of the database to the transmission protocols.
Since the project had the opportunity to test the administrative part separately, without resorting to the functionality of the mobile client itself, the expert’s area of responsibility was not too extensive. It included understanding the work of a mobile client, its architecture, specifics, as well as incoming and outgoing messages broadcast from the client to the administrative part and vice versa.
The analysis area included the features of the mobile application itself, and therefore, it was necessary to work out all possible test scenarios. And if engineers without experience with mobile applications could easily cope with functional cases, then a set of specific scenarios for mobile devices fell exactly on the shoulders of the consultant.
It was necessary to provide the user with the highest quality application and avoid any events in the system (incoming call, loss of connection to the network, memory overflow, etc.) that could cause a critical application error and loss of personal data of the user. Therefore, it was necessary to work out in detail specific checks, prioritize tasks, correctly distribute sets of cases according to the test schedule throughout the entire testing cycle.
A particularly challenging part of testing on the project was the process of transferring data between the client and the back-end. At this stage of the project, it is necessary to take into account not only the physical implementation of the transmission mechanism, but also a number of external factors that can make adjustments. Various types of mobile communications, signal reception levels, switching between data transmission modes and much more should not bring inconvenience to the user. In addition, mobile-specific case studies also need to be prepared and run regularly.
The consultant had to provide the testing team with all the necessary guides, detailed steps for executing test scripts, and full-fledged tools. The selection of test utilities for various tests and checks, a quick search for the necessary desktop and mobile utilities were my primary responsibilities.
ADJUSTMENT OF THE TEST STRATEGY
One of the most important parameters of the test strategy on mobile testing projects is the device fleet. Phones and tablets for testing should be selected in such a way as to cover as many potential users as possible. For this, as a rule, the most popular models and versions of operating systems are selected. The consultant should always keep his finger on the pulse of the statistics of the use of certain phones and tablets in the target region.
Among the main trends that a mobile consultant should follow, it is worth highlighting the following:
- Popularity of mobile platforms and focus of testing on the most common versions;
- Announcements of new devices and analysis of their potential popularity;
- Analysis of the popularity of existing devices on the market;
- Analysis of the features of new versions of operating systems and new devices.
This approach will allow you to identify potential bottlenecks and prevent application errors early on. In addition, close cooperation of the consultant with the testing team and the development team will make it possible to prepare a useful application, the quality of which even users can appreciate.
Taking into account the pace of development of mobile markets, we can say that mobile testers will increasingly be involved in projects as independent experts. Whether it is luxury or necessity, it is decided separately in each specific case, but most of the design teams probably already lack such an expert.
And yet, why is it profitable to involve a person “from outside” on a project? In response, I will give several main advantages of such a solution:
- the only authoritative opinion on mobile testing, which means there is no disagreement between team members;
- a single point of synchronization for all accumulated knowledge in mobile testing;
- an objective view of the project situation from the outside;
Based on my own experience, I can say that the involvement of an independent expert on the project helped the mobile operator to launch a high-quality application for users on the market in time. Surely, this is one of the most powerful arguments for making a decision.