Software testing is usually defined as an activity to check whether the produced software (or hardware) meets the defined requirements. Some define it in a more specific way - as an activity to produce defect-free software.
A product description, or a technical specification almost always envisions the end product, with unquestionably correct implementation. Thus, bugs are usually not anticipated, and only found after some time has passed, and some code has been written down.
Realistically though, 100% bug-free software is pretty much impossible to achieve. Especially, now that most teams work in Agile and/or iterative ways, more and more features are added on a frequent basis. Whether to meet clients’ needs or to retain a competitive edge, applications get more complicated by the day.
Why is (crowd) testing important?
Inevitably, every product gets tested. Any credible source you read on high-quality implementations, will tell you how important it is to test your application. Equally important is the choice of strategy, planning and, finally, the tools for achieving the ultimate goal of bug-free software.
Choosing the right strategy can save your resources and precious development time. In most cases, software developers or engineers end up testing the software themselves. That might happen, even when you have a tester team available within the reach of your office floor.
If you plan accordingly, you might save up the majority of the time your tech team should otherwise spend on development.
Testing can bring up not only errors, gaps and missing requirements. It also can highlight how previously implemented features are performing after you have added new ones. Depending on the type of testing you do, you can also identify the issues with latency; gaps and errors within content in your software; compatibility and dependencies within your application.
Sounds amazing, doesn't it?
There’s a catch - testing can be done in so many ways, that it can easily become very daunting. A simple Google search on ‘software testing’ shows about 3,890,000,000 results.
In the end, it all comes down to choices, and the best fit for your circumstances.
What type would suit your application best? What is the best way to go about it? And what if you don’t have the resources to outsource all of your testing?
We have outlined 5 top ways to test your application. Although, it is not an exhaustive list, it can give you a hint and a push in the right direction.
In the article, crowdtesting is one of the outlined testing strategies. In short, crowdtesting is exactly what it sounds like - crowdsourced testing. Usually, crowdtesting is easiest to access through existing platforms, as they have thousands, if not dozens of thousands of testers already enrolled and ready to get testing.
If you are considering crowdtesting as the strategy (or one of them) for your software, but still are unsure about your choice - you have come to the right place!
This article is going to give 5 main advantages and disadvantages of crowdtesting. The goal is that, depending on your software , you will be able to identify whether the pros given by crowdtesting can be of extreme help. And maybe, the disadvantages will showcase that this strategy is not the best for you.
Without further ado, here is the list!
By definition, crowdsourced testing is accessing the power of crowds in testing software requirements. If the crowdtesting platform is an established one, you would have access to thousands of testers within several clicks.
Crowdtesting is only possible due to connectivity and the mighty Internet. And, as it happens with crowdsourcing in any industry, the crowd is spread all around the world.
People with different backgrounds and expertise can be a great source of fresh and real user perspective. This way, you can easily avoid the biased opinions in-house testers and developers usually have. These diverse groups of people can point out things that you and your team probably would have never even thought of.
Another kind of diversity crowdtesting brings is geographical diversity. This can be beneficial due to several reasons.
First, the Internet and its speed are not spread out equally. Users in some parts of the world might not enjoy your application with fancy features that take a long time to load. For others, some protocols or implementation specifics might raise legal and regulatory restrictions.
Crowds can help avoid these frustrations by pinpointing them before you launch your application to the wider world.
Second - translation and content. If you are planning to launch your application in several continents and languages, you might not even know that the wording you are using is correct or not. Crowdtesting can give you access to native speakers, and tell you where exactly your message is not conveying what was intended.
Hardware and environmental diversity
Any developer knows this dreadful case: a user reports a bug, that neither testers nor developers can catch and replicate. “It works just fine!”, they say.
After much investigation, turns out a specific types of device, from a specific brand and of specific model has an issue that all other devices do not have.
In reality, you can have only so many devices for in-house testing. One could say, virtual environments could be an alternative. However, can you imagine how many environments you need to set up for the thousands of devices on the market? How long would it take to set up only a few?
With crowdtesting, you don’t even need to try! The variety of environments is given. Crowdtesting platforms offer a large number of testers, which can test your software on thousands of unique mobile or web environments.
In fact, in Buglance, out of 10,000+ devices offered you can even specify the devices you would like to test your application on. By narrowing down the devices, you can tackle already existing issues, or compliment the in-house devices you are using for testing.
The environment diversity is not restricted only to devices. Let’s say your software is a web-based one, this diversity is not of much interest to you. Then, for example, testing compatibility of browsers and their different versions can definitely save your team a lot of time and headache.
Efficiency and scalability
Before we dive into how and why crowdtesting makes processes more efficient and scalable, let’s talk about why you would want to scale or make things more efficient in the first place.
It has been estimated that in 2019, on average, 23 percent of an organisation’s annual IT budget goes towards quality assurance and testing [source]. Granted these organisations are of larger size, the situation in small to medium sized start-ups might far from this estimation.
In smaller companies, developer teams are usually the ones to code and test the software all at the same time.
Statistically, in single component applications around 20 percent of all development hours goes to testing. For a two-component application, this time increases to around 30 percent.
Only rarely enterprise level applications, or any commonly used application consists of three or less components. And most likely, the application has a graphical user interface, which complicates things further.
Indeed, an application with a graphical user interface (UI) would take up to 35 percent of your time. And for those who are working on a distributed application with graphical user interface, this number reaches the scary 50 percent.
Not only the testing in more complicated systems is significant , it is also much much harder.
Another thing to note - developer hours are extremely important and usually quite expensive. In the ideal world, you would deliver the perfect product on time! The reality is much harsher, and in fact, much slower and costlier.
This is where crowdtesting can come to help once again, and be of great help if you are short on time and/or resources.
With access to a large testing community, you can scale your testing very quickly.
And most importantly, they can roll their sleeves and focus on coding up the product. In the meantime, the bugs and issue reports will quickly and nicely knock on your dashboard, without you even trying.
Even more so, if you are in need of urgent testing, you can get bug reports quite literally within hours of submitting your application.
However, note that how quickly you are going to get the bug reports will largely depend on the platform you are using for crowdtesting, too.
Crowdtesting gives you amazing capabilities when it comes to parallelisation. On some platforms, you would be given a choice on testing types. Thus, making it possible to test multiple things at the same time.
In Buglance you can set up tests on, for instance, regression testing, latency testing, functional testing and usability testing all at the same time!
We established (and you are already probably hyper-aware of this) that your tech team’s time is precious and, also, quite expensive.
Technically, depending on the type of application you are working on, you can save up to 20-50 percent of your product development budget. Let’s also not forget the damage that untested or failed products can do to the company’s reputation and, eventually, to the revenue.
If you are to go with automated testing, the numbers might look slightly different.
When outsourcing the testing, you can spend somewhere from $500 on a monthly basis to thousands, if not dozens of thousands on annual coverage.
Moreover, outsourcing the testing requires much time to set up. While these solutions can provide an exhaustive testing in some areas, you will be required to provide multiple technical documents... And complete many set up stages... And most likely, sign contracts and deal with bureaucracy… And so on, so forth.
With crowdtesting however, your overall budget can be reduced quite heavily. Accessing an enormous community of testers for a price less than a developer’s monthly pay is bargain. The setup process is normally easy to complete, and can come in handy when on a time constraint.
Variety of testing
This point has come up briefly in the discussions above, but it is worth stressing separately. Crowdtesting platforms, however not all, give access to multiple testing types at the same time.
In Buglance, we nearly have a limitless number of software testing types. You can get more info here.
You don’t have to choose what to start first, and where to go next if you don’t want to. You can select all the types of testing you need, and testers all around the world will get to it once you click ‘start’.
Looking at given points above, it is easy to convince oneself that crowdsourced testing is the solution to all your testing issues. However, it would be delusional to think that the coin of crowdtesting does not have the flip side.
Considering the disadvantages of crowdtesting might be even more important. In the modern fast-paced development environment the least desirable thing would be to waste your time and resources on something that might not be the best fit.
Quantity over quality
If confidentiality is potentially the most dangerous disadvantage, the issue of ‘bug quantity’ is the most commonly mentioned.
The users of some crowdtesting platforms can sometimes observe that the complexity of reported bugs is usually quite low, and quality is compromised.
This is mostly common in on-demand crowdtesting companies. It can usually happen if you are submitting an application that has both simple and complicated bugs, where you might find that most of the submitted bugs tend to be the easy-to-find errors despite being reported as complex ones.
In on-demand crowdtesting methodology, bug hunters or testers get paid more for finding more complex defects, those take up much more time and effort.
It is one of the reasons why crowdtesting paired with in-house testing techniques can form a perfect duo. You can outsource quick errors in large quantities to the crowds, while in-house testers can take a deep dive into complicated scenarios.
In addition, you can still benefit from crowdtesting companies while ensuring the quality level, as long as you are provided with alternative options other than “pay-as-you-go”.
Managing and tracking
The very fact of a large amount of people testing your application can sometimes lead to difficulties in their management. Especially, if your application was not tested prior to publishing on the platform to eliminate the most obvious bugs.
In cases when you are utilizing several types of testing at the same time, you can imagine how quickly bug reports can pile up.
If the platform you are using for crowdtesting is not validating the bug reports properly, you might have to communicate to the testers. And since the testers are scattered all around the world, communication can get complicated really quickly. Hence, time zones and language barriers can stand in the way of smooth operations.
Choosing a crowdtesting platform that provides support for these issues and manages bug reports internally can be a great help.
Best fit problem
The list of possible testing types is very extensive. Some testing is categorised by the technology tested - security testing, user interface (UI) testing, etc. Other testing is divided by the nature of the development work - for instance, iterative or regression testing.
Due to the nature of crowdtesting, not all testing is suitable for the crowds to complete. Hence, it is important to identify the types of testing you would like to outsource to the crowds, and be careful with the choice.
The exploratory nature of crowdtesting can make it hard when ensuring the product performs well as a whole.
A good tip is to also identify what it would mean to have a fully tested product. What qualities would you like to have by the end of testing? What features are most crucial to test?
This way, you would have measurable ways to tell whether you have achieved the completeness of testing or not.
In some cases, there might be concerns due to the sharing of your application with the community of testers. If there are features of the application that are extremely sensitive, and you do not want to share it with the outside world immediately, you might want to hold crowdtesting for some time.
Usually, confidentiality is not a big concern, since teams are taking extreme care of such sensitivities beforehand. They test them with in-house testers, or sign a contract with the crowdtesting platform to make sure these issues stay in check.
If any sort of intellectual property document is on its way, but hasn’t been published yet - you might want to hold the crowdtesting endeavour until you have it secured.
Another case when you might want to take some precautions, is when you are planning to launch a disruptive feature that would keep your competitive edge. In this case, it is a good idea to launch the crowdtesting not too far away from the launch, and try getting support from the crowdtesting platform itself.
Whatever software you are producing, testing is not only important, but inevitable. While there are many ways to go about it, it is important to consider your resources and priorities when choosing one or more suitable testing types for yourself.
Crowdtesting has been growing in popularity, and advantages mentioned here are definitely on the lists of its reasons for increasing fame. However, crowdtesting as a tool is only useful if the right conditions are met. Hence, pros and cons, as well as potential problems given here can hopefully point you in the right direction and help avoid wasting time and resources.
If you think that crowdtesting is the strategy you would like to utilise, Buglance provides the most comprehensive software testing solutions with a massive testing community of real users from all over the world. Not only it gives you all the listed benefits, but there are many strategies in place to prevent and fight the potential problems.
For example, Buglance provides tools to easily manage the testing (and testers), and efficiently reduces the amount of reported bugs. Therefore, you will not be receiving duplicate bugs and, more importantly, invalid bugs!
Quality of the bugs is managed, and you will not be charged extra for the bugs that are of trivial and easy completion.
To get more detailed information on affordable pricing rates and what more do we offer, request a demo today.