It’s been a while since most companies realized that simply developing software does not guarantee success. Building successful software also means testing it to ensure quality. In this process, several non functional testing types are crucial to evaluate the software you’ve built. 

If functional testing ensures that the functionalities of your product are working properly, non functional testing allows you to check the behavior of your product in different conditions. The functional vs. non functional debate is moot since both testing types are essential, and I strongly encourage you not to skip any steps.

Today we’re going to focus on the five most commonly neglected non-functional tests. If you ever thought about skipping them, this article will explain why you shouldn’t.

Availability Testing

Any service or product needs to be available to users, whether it’s for in-house use or customer-facing. For instance, if your company offers car rental services, your customers will expect to find at least a few cars to choose from, right? No available cars mean no business. 

The same goes for a software product. The product must be available to the end-user at all times. This is why availability testing is so important. It validates whether the product functions as per the defined requirements without any failures.

However, there are several factors for which this type of testing is neglected. With the introduction of SaaS products, faster release cycles have become a norm. This has squeezed the time usually allocated for testing. 

Furthermore, as the product scales, enhancements made in a module impact the other modules as well. Therefore, each module’s availability needs testing, which becomes quite time-consuming. Consequently, product availability that needs to be caught in the testing phase is reported by the customer and causes havoc across the organization.

Maintainability Testing

This is another crucial non-functional testing type, as it acts as the pillar on which your product stands while moving forward. Maintainability testing is the process of testing your product’s upgrading ability as the number of users grows. 

While your organization’s sales team works hard to bring more business, you never know when a potential lead might turn into a customer. This is why you need the product ready to serve new and existing customers with little or no notice.

Here’s another scenario in which this type of non functional testing can save you: let’s say that during a discussion with a potential client, they inquire about some features they would like added to your software. Of course, you want to say, “no problem!”. But there’s a catch.

People from the product team can only commit to their inclusion when they are sure that the product can handle the additions performance-wise. Suddenly, the importance of maintainability testing has increased. 

If it’s being done regularly, the generated stats will act as insights for the product team, who’d be better prepared to face the customer while committing to any tweaks in the product.

Additionally, globalization has taken uncertainty to a whole new level. When your product is being used in several regions, anything can happen anywhere that can increase the number of users of your product. 

Without maintainability testing, you would never know the application’s response in such a scenario. This can lead to the loss of many existing and potential customers. Therefore, you should also perform maintainability testing to prepare for unexpected scenarios rather than relying on the product’s response to serve the existing requirements.

Recovery Testing

“Nothing is perfect.”

Recovery testing creates a mechanism to tackle failover scenarios for your product. As an end-user, you are just surfing casually and clicking different website buttons to get the job done. However, as a developer, you know that a lot is happening at the backend for those actions to be completed successfully. 

Let’s have a glimpse into a developer’s life.

With each user logging into the application, a session is created for the backend as long as the user remains on the website. Next, with each click, a number of services and utilities are called in the backend to bring data from the database layer per the client’s request. 

The aggregation of these activities has a significant impact on the whole application. Any service written to bring data can go rogue and choke the entire system. 

This is where recovery testing becomes a savior. In case any data-providing node fails, you need a mechanism to divert the data to another node so that the processing does not abruptly halt. Yes, I know that performing non functional testing in a rapid development cycle is tough, but the cost of not doing it can become a real burden for the whole organization.

Usability Testing

This is one of the non-functional testing types that has a direct impact on the user experience. Today, user experience gets the center stage and most of the attention whenever an application is created. 

You have to focus on the number of clicks, reuse existing features, and keep the user interface as friendly as possible. Here’s how this works in real life.

Let’s say you have an EHR (Electronic Health Record) system where you have a couple of workflows to create an appointment — one from the scheduler and another from within the patient details box. You need to show the follow-up appointments. 

One way to do this is to show them on the grid where all patient appointments are listed. This means the user will have to go to the patient details box whenever they need to see follow-up appointments. This option would increase the number of clicks and make it frustrating for the user.

A better way to do this would be to show them on the scheduler when an appointment is created. When the user checks out an appointment, all the follow-up appointments for that patient are displayed in a window. This would be hassle-free and improve readability and usability. 

This is what is evaluated in usability testing. Contrary to popular belief (which, sadly, makes developers often skip this type of non functional testing), usability testing is not just about making sure every button and every link work. It’s mostly about ensuring the users have a pleasant, seamless, and intuitive experience at every step of their journey.

Compliance Testing

Most businesses working in the financial or healthcare sectors are heavily regulated. If you are in either of these fields, you are definitely familiar with compliance. 

For instance, the healthcare sector requires you to adhere to HIPAA compliance. Under this, a business has to secure public health information, make the patient-provider communication secure, and integrate everything inside the application so that any third-party application involvement does not lead to any potential threats to the critical data.

Ensuring that nothing from the provided guidelines is breached requires rigorous testing of each aspect of the application. You do not only need to validate things from the front-end but address the backend as well. 

You have to ensure that any enhancement made to the existing application does not create a ripple in another part of the application causing a confidentiality breach. This is crucial because the very existence of such a business rests on this guarantee.

Among all the types of non functional testing, compliance testing is the one that requires the most profound understanding of the domain and the rules to abide by. Additionally, it needs proper planning and extensive documentation. 

You have to keep an eye on the guidelines at all times and develop your strategy accordingly. Certain checks must be included so the application addresses the target users. This makes testing even more complex, and compliance testing vanishes into the narrow space created by rapid development cycles.

Compliance testing may sound (and it sometimes is, to be honest) boring and full of legalese. But do you know what’s even more unpleasant? Data breaches can cost your organization millions or the hefty fines you get when a regulatory body discovers your lack of compliance.

Conclusion

The importance of testing cannot be neglected when you develop an application. When the focus mostly rests on functional testing so that the basic requirements are met, a lot of non functional testing types like the ones above are neglected. 

Yes, non functional testing increases the cost an organization has to bear for software development, but if things go south because these tests were not performed, you will end up paying much more and losing a lot more time. You know what they say: better safe than sorry. This adage fits software testing like a glove.

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Yuriy Gerasimov

CEO of Diffy

Visual Regression Testing Platform

Yuriy is the CEO of Diffy, a visual regression testing tool that helps speed up the QA process with its unique visual comparison algorithm.