How to write functional tests (properly)
Writing functional tests is not a task that can be improvised on the fly. The step is crucial: it will let you know if your application covers all the requirements expected by end users.
Any good project manager who respects themselves will know that writing functional test cases for an IT project is a long, complex and above all meticulous process. The success of the process will have a significant impact on the chances for the project to be successful, and that the final tool or product will be adopted by end users.
It is critically important that all pre-determined requirements of the tool are covered by functional testing.
This article will outline the main framework that should be followed in order to ensure the right structure when writing your test cases, and to ensure that nothing is forgotten.
The correct structure of a functional test case
Let’s start from the beginning. What structure should your test case follow?
3 main elements must be present:
- Step numbers: these indicate where we are in the testing of the application, for example: “Step 2: creation of a user account.” Each step follows a common thread that will lead to testing the entire application as a whole.
- The action expected from the user: this is a clear and concise description of the action to be taken by the user during each step. This action should be described in one sentence; the more simple, the better. For example: The user completes the fields of the registration form and clicks on the “Validate” button.
- The expected system action: here, we evaluate and verify the response of the system – of the web or mobile application, or of the software that is being tested. What this means is that we look at what the response of the system will be following the user’s action. For example: The page loads and a confirmation message is displayed, indicating that their registration has been taken into account. The user also receives a confirmation email on the email address they have entered.
Prerequisites for the test
Writing test cases not only serves to verify that the developed application meets the functional requirements, but that it also saves time for the tester. They also make it possible to highlight any faults or bugs in the application, which is very important before releasing or launching the final product to end users.
Another useful approach is to indicate in the preamble of your test cases the prerequisites needed for testing the application under the best conditions:
- Type of device required
- Operating system
- VPN access
To further increase the chances for the test’s success, try and put yourself in the shoes of the tester as much as possible:
- considering their background,
- level of computer knowledge,
- and technical proficiency.
A good rule of thumb to follow is that each written test case should be understandable by anyone: whether the person is the director of information systems or the head of accounting.
Collecting feedback from testers
Finally, collecting feedback is a very valuable step. Stay in direct contact with your testers – don’t abandon them in the wild. By checking in with them on a regular basis, you’ll be able to obtain very useful real-time feedback that will help you optimize the application from the point of view of an end user, which should be the ultimate goal of any application development process.
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