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Jay Noble and Stephanie Van Ness, Integrated IT Solutions

Software testing is not optional.

Let me repeat: Ssoftware testing is not optional!

Software defects are one of the most common reasons for clinical or consumer medical device recalls, and serious problems resulting from software errors abound. A A 2020 Australian government study identified a range of issuessuch as resiliency and reliability-related errors, including software that crashed, froze, or only worked intermittently – or didn’t respond at all.

How do software errors show up in the real world? Here is just one example of software gone bad. In 2016, clinical software widely used by practitioners at the UK’s National Health Service miscalculated patients’ heart attack risk, errors that had gone undetected since 2009. As a result, at least 300,000 patients over that seven-year period received the wrong medication or medical advice.

The consequences of the software defect were tragic. Many patients who were wrongly told they were low risk suffered heart attacks or strokes. Many others endured the side effects of heart medications they didn’t really need.

This is why every software application to have to subjected to meticulous tests before being made available to users. Testing improves product quality, increases user satisfaction, verifies that the system meets requirements, promotes safety, identifies avoidable errors, and reduces costs by identifying faults early when they are less expensive to repair.

Yes, testing takes time, but the benefits far outweigh the stress of the schedule.

Purpose of Software Testing

Infographic showing test objectives:

Image courtesy of Integrated Computer Solutions

The primary goal of software testing is to provide stakeholders with accurate, timely, and useful information about the state of the application under test.

Tests can:

  • Determine whether requirements have been met, including performance requirements
  • Identify areas of weakness (high concentration of defects)
  • Help prevent defects, not just find them
  • Trust the system
  • Establish the quality level of the system
  • Confirm that the system is usable, operational, secure and ready to deploy

Types of software testing

Manual testing is the most convenient type of testing. There are two varieties: White Box tests and Black Box tests.

White Box testing tests the underlying structure, architecture, and code of the system to validate input-output flow, improving design, usability, and security.

Black Box testing approaches testing from an end-user (external) perspective. This involves testing against specs and requirements, focusing on what the app is supposed to do.

Although manual tests are used by every development team at some level, the main drawback is that they are difficult to scale in today’s rapid development lifecycle.

Automated tests

Test automation uses automation tools to maintain test data, run tests, and analyze test results without human intervention to improve software quality. It can be used for:

  • Unit testing, where a single unit of the application is tested in isolation
  • Integration tests, which check how modules communicate and behave together
  • Smoke test, used to assess system construction stability
  • Regression testing, used to determine if recent code changes have affected existing code functionality

Continuous testing

Continuous testing is the process of running automated tests as part of the software delivery process to get feedback on the risks associated with a software release as quickly as possible. This approach applies the principles of automated testing in a scalable and continuous way to achieve the most reliable test coverage for an enterprise.

Verification versus validation

Software verification testing is the process in which software is evaluated in the development phase to determine if it meets design requirements and specifications. You check all aspects of the software, including unexpected conditions. If an error is detected, the development team has the opportunity to correct it before the product reaches end users. Essentially, verification testing determines if you’re building the product correctly.

Software validation testing, on the other hand, determines if you are building the right product.. Validation testing evaluates the product or system at the end of the development process to determine if it meets the expectations of end users and to ensure that the system actually meets their requirements.

The Takeaways from Software Testing

While it may be tempting to skip or skimp on software testing in an effort to accelerate feature development and product release, the potential harm to software quality and user satisfaction, or even user safety, simply not worth the risk.

Thorough testing improves consistency, performance, and customer satisfaction and is therefore fundamental to the software development process.

Jay Noble leads the global team of engineers at Integrated Computer Solutions, leveraging his more than 25 years of experience leading global software engineering and professional services teams in medical, military and industrial . He holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, an MS in Computer Science from Boston University, and an MBA in International Business from Suffolk University in Boston.

Stephanie Van Ness is Associate Director of Marketing and Chief Storyteller at Integrated Computer Solutions, writing about user experience design and technology innovations, from gesture-controlled medical devices and extended reality surgical training simulators to truck fleets. autonomous. His work has been widely published in medical device and software publications. She holds a degree in journalism from Boston University.

The opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect those of MedicalDesignandOutsourcing.com or its employees.

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