Although all of these forms of software testing have their place and scope, they are all intended to ensure one thing: that your software is fit for its purpose, meaning that it accomplishes what it was created to do.
But there is more to it than that! Fit-for-purpose testing is another focused testing phase your team can employ.
So what is fit-for-purpose testing, and how can you integrate this software testing basic into your testing methodology?
What does “fit for purpose” mean when it comes to software?
“Fit for purpose” is a term borrowed from business and marketing methodologies. Software is considered “fit for purpose” if it satisfies the requirements determined at the definition and initial design stage. These requirements state how the software will work, the inputs it will process, the outputs it will produce, and the integrations and user interfaces it should be capable of creating. If these requirements are met, then the end product is fit for purpose.
Although the software testing methodologies mentioned above help confirm if a requirement is met, another technique—black-box testing—can take each method even further. Through the lens of one of the testing approaches (e.g., unit or integration testing), black-box testing examines the pure functionality of a system without evaluating its internal code or structures. Black-box testing builds on the other approaches, using structured tests aligned to the initial requirements to see if the final design is “fit for purpose.”
Why is fit-for-purpose testing so important?
If your software is deemed not fit for purpose, you will need to return to the design and development stages and refine the functionality until testing proves that the product meets the agreed-upon requirements.
Although determining that a product is not fit for purpose can be costly and time-consuming—and maybe even a blow to your team’s confidence—releasing a product that does not meet customer needs could mean loss of trust in your brand, continued updates and patches, or even workarounds that require more effort.
In any case, potential outcomes like these are why it is essential to have a clear link between requirements, test cases, and your final product, so you can ensure that it is fit for purpose.
How can you better align your software with its end goal?
There are many ways to set your development team up for success when it comes to fit-for-purpose testing. Here are some of the most important and—with the right test management software—easiest to implement ways:
Have a centralized requirement repository that makes it easy to track progress from end to end, including developing the software, creating test cases and test runs, and monitoring tester feedback and sign-off.
Use dashboards, reports, and flexible feedback mechanisms to make administering and facilitating tests easy so testers can focus more on their work than the paperwork.