27 July 2019

Comparison Testing – A Comprehensive Guide

comparison testing

Table of Contents

Our objective behind this article is to make you aware of comparison testing. It is among several different types of testing that analyses a product’s capability to compete in the market. 

Comparison testing is not new to the world of software testing. Not many of you are able to leverage its benefits due to lack of knowledge. 

You may not know exactly, what makes comparison testing even exist – what are the merits and demerits of a comparison test – what should you compare – how should you compare, and so on. This guide is for you. 

Let’s go through the guide step-by-step.

What is Comparison Testing?

What do you think about comparing something? What does it mean to compare two things or objects with respect to each other? 

In simple terms, to compare means to consider the similarities and differences of two entities. That is, you take two objects and note down the similarities between them. Likewise, you point out what all things are different in them. The idea that remains constant in a comparison test is the type of product you choose to compare. 

For instance, if you developed an android application, you will compare your product to another android app only. You will find out in what terms your product is similar to or different from the other one. 

Then you will analyse – is your product better than the one you compared with or it needs improvement? You actually evaluate a product with respect to others. This is the main idea behind a comparison test.

So, what is the conceptual a.k.a technical meaning of comparison testing?

Comparison testing is a testing technique that compares fresh software with existing software in use. It is a test of software that reveals the strong and weak points of software when compared with other products that are available in the market at present. 

Comparison testing makes you assess the quality of your software product against the ongoing competition. Using a comparison test, you can check whether the product you developed is beneficial for its users or not. 

Moreover, you get a chance to analyse your performance in front of your competitors. You get the opportunity to highlight the advantages of your product over that of your competitors’. 

Well, a comparison test is not just for comparing your product with your competitors’. You can also compare your software against the previous versions of your product. It gives you an opportunity to make your software better in successive releases. 

A comparison test evaluates a software product on areas like functionality, performance, quality, usability, features, security, help manuals, etc. Apart from these features, software testers evaluate other areas on the basis of stakeholders’ requirements.

What Is The Need For Comparison Testing?

Indeed comparison testing is a part of software development. But, what makes it so?  What do you need a comparison test for your software? What is the importance of comparison testing?

This section is aiming to make you understand the significance of comparison testing so that you can employ the best practices for hosting a comparison test. 

Comparison testing compares two or more different objects with each other. This is done for several reasons. 

To prove the suitability of the product

You developed a software product. Now, you want to check whether this product is suitable for deployment in the market. How will you check this? You will look for similar products on the market.

 When you find one, you will note down the properties or features of that product. Then, you will try to compare those properties with your product. What makes you do this? 

The willingness to prove that your product is an asset to the people just like the one you compared with. This made you compare your product with another one. Therefore, a comparison test aims to realize the need of the product itself in the market. 

To check the competitive nature of the product

A comparison test reveals a lot about your product and its nature. When you consider your software product with your competitor’s version of the product, you get to know many things. 

The similarities and dissimilarities you notice in both these products allow you to evaluate your product in the ongoing competition. You can check whether your product is able to face the race or not. 

The comparison test enlists the weak and strong points in your product and helps you to work on them accordingly. 

You can also opt for a comparison test to determine the effectiveness of your product versions. On comparing both the releases, you can select a better one among them. That is, you can analyse them on the basis of present-day competition and finalize the appropriate version for the market. 

To measure the quality of the software product

People believe in what they are using in reality. You also tend to follow what your competitors are bringing up. A Comparison test checks the quality of your product while comparing it with the existing usable product in the market. 

The test will clarify if the product is capable of satisfying the needs of the people. You can figure out the loopholes that make your product less effective. 

A quality check is a must for any software. Comparison testing allows you to refine your product and add missing details if it is the next release of the same software. You can determine the robustness of the current version by comparison test, and if it is not satisfactory, then you can improve it in the next one. 

To decide on further versions of the software

A comparison test allows you to analyse the need for new releases of the software product. If you measure two versions of your software against one another, you will get to know about the limitations (if any) of the current version. 

Also, you may find something more exciting and worth keeping in the previous version. Then you can work on the same version to make it more effective rather than releasing a new one.

When Should You Perform a Comparison Test? 

There is no specified phase of software development that accounts for comparison testing. Since a comparison test evaluates two elements on the basis of their performance and features broadly; you can perform it throughout the software development process. 

Comparison testing would allow you to select the best for your product. 

One important thing you must be very clear about is, comparing testing is not only about testing software products.

A comparison test is to contrast two or more elements, whether it be the product itself or the independent components that make a complete software. There are different stages of software development when comparison testing can be made to evaluate effectively. 

The initial stage of software development

When you start developing software, you need to plan the initial phase of the development process. What your software would look like? What will be its characteristics? 

You have to work on the interface of the software first. You have to make it interactive. A comparison test is helpful in determining the best interface style for your software product. 

You can try out different ideas for the interface and then compare them one be one with each other to mark the plus points in each of them. Then analysis all the points and identify which of them works for your software. Finally, find out the best interface for the software. 

The middle stage of software development

When you have reached the intermediate stage of software development, you have many things to consider for your product. Your software may contain different buttons for performing a variety of functions.

 It has different frames, databases, categories, features, to name a few. You may have varied layouts of the same structure. Many frameworks have been developed to aid in software development. You have to choose the one that is suitable for your software. 

A comparison test can be carried to compare the internal elements of the software to make sure that the product is preferable for the customers. Working on minute details of the software helps in refining the product efficiently. 

The final stage of software development

When software development is complete and ready for deployment in the market, this is where comparison testing plays a significant role. This is the time when you need to compare your product for its qualification so that you release it in the market. 

Now, you evaluate your product against all the other products available in the market. It can be a complete analysis of your product, its features, strengths, limitations, and ability to serve the people. 

A comparison test is a necessary test for determining the quality of software product. Well, it is also a significant testing technique used for performing Black Box testing of software. In black box testing, the software is tested as a whole without the internal knowledge of the software. 

It purely tests the product on the basis of its functionality. A comparison test in black box testing compares different releases of the same software to determine the efficiency of the software. 

The testers can, therefore, assess the software product without the technical knowledge of development and internal structure. 

What Should You Compare In Comparison Testing?

We have been discussing various aspects of comparison testing and analyzing its importance on several terms. The basic knowledge about comparison testing is the understanding of what needs should you compare in the two elements. 

What are you assessing in your software product? What are the things that need to be improved in your product? On what parameters will you check the product for quality? These questions define your product assessment. 

The necessary prerequisites for the software to be perfect and ready for use are the functional and non-functional requirements. Some of them include operability, scalability, usability, installability, maintainability, compatibility, and much more. 

The other essential characteristics of the software to be considered at the time of comparison testing are:

Design of the software product

Design of software is something that is visible more clearly to the users. It is the software design that allows them to use the software effortlessly. 

It is, therefore required to keep it simple and easy to use. You check this; you can compare your product with your competitor’s to evaluate the usefulness of the software design. You can enlist the changes needed, or the positive points of that makes your design different from others. 

You can also compare the two versions of your software for design to implement the better among them in the market.

The database of the product

The software can be compared on the basis of their ability to manage data in them. There are a lot of data being entered into the software. Both users and their customers insert data into it. 

Therefore, it is necessary that the data is efficiently managed and stored into the underlying database of the software. Any kind of discrepancy or loss can affect the quality of data and related operations. 

A comparison test can be conducted to either compare two databases for efficiency or to evaluate against a specific standard. 

Software Architecture 

Software architecture is a framework that defines software elements, their relationships, and their properties. It is the operational and technical structure of the software which optimizes its security, performance, and the ability to manage tasks. 

You should develop the software that fulfils all these requirements. Comparison testing allows you to assess your software on these terms based on specified rules as well as the existing similar products in the market. 

You can look for methods that your competitors employ to ensure a robust architecture for the software. Consider your product against those methods and check if your software stands firm. 

Storage Capacity

Large enterprises need software that is capable of storing a large amount of data in them. Storage capacity is a vital component of the software. 

Some clients prefer to use software that can store a significant amount of information, while others look for something that is sufficient for a small enterprise. Therefore, your software must be based on the requirements of your target market. 

That is, you should design it, especially for different groups. You can compare your software storage with the products available in the market and improvise if necessary. You will get an ideal figure for the storage capacity of your software. 

The speed at which the software operates 

You know very well that a slow operating software is good for nothing. Many business functions and processes may be stuck in between because of bad operability of the software. 

Time-sensitive operations are adversely affected by the slow processing speed of the software. Therefore, while testing the software for efficient use, you must compare your software’s processing speed with preferred standards. 

It will make your product an asset in the market, giving a tough competition to the other vendors. 

Complexity of use

The software can be best put to use if it can be utilized effortlessly. If the clients and their customers are able to use the software without putting extra efforts or facing any difficulty, your software is a great success. 

Many software developers fail to provide the ease to operate the software to the end users. Therefore it is the responsibility of the testers to rectify the situation. A comparison test can evaluate the performance of the software with the existing ones to determine the complexity of their software. 

Based on the results, you can then improve the software utilization. 

Other software and hardware support

The software does not work in an isolated environment. There are several different processes and functions that govern its working. It has to be compatible with other software and hardware in a particular network. 

In comparison testing, you can compare the performances of your software product while working in cooperation with other hardware and software. The results can be analysed to enhance the capability of the software to support other frameworks too. 

A comparison test includes all those elements that contribute to the efficient operation of the software. It allows you to analyse the performance of your software and compare it to the one present in the market to improve it at the same time. 

How You Can Perform Comparison Testing?

Here comes the main concept of comparison testing. How should you perform comparison testing? Before beginning the test, you need to set the criteria based on which you will design your test cases. It is essential to clarify the underlying processes to be tested. 

Testing criteria can be divided into two categories:

1. You can compare the software product against standard norms and benchmarks. That is, you can evaluate the performance of your software by matching it with specific rules set up to define a perfect software. 

On comparing every component of the software side by side, you will get to know the effectiveness as well as the limitations of your software. 

For example, if a CRM application goes under comparison testing, the test would evaluate it on the following conditions:

    • The application consists of all the necessary modules that it must have.
    • The modules in the application can perform the desired functionality to serve the purpose.

It is the standard specification of a CRM software on the basis of which the comparison is made.

2. Another phase of software testing includes a comparison of your software with other software products. This comparison test would match the specific properties of your software product with the other software and compare the performance. The results will ensure whether your software is marketable or not. 

There is another way you can compare the same CRM application. You can compare it with other CRM applications currently in use. This time, analysis of the results will be based on different conditions, which are as follows:

    • Which of the two software is cost-effective?
    • Which software delivers a high performing environment?
    • Which software looks interactive and easy to use?

Based on these two testing criteria, you should design your test cases. When you compare each of the elements one by one, you will get two types of results. Those results will be analysed to reach the initial decision. 

Every element will provide you with performance data and preference data. That is, it will reveal how is it working as well as how it should work. When you compare both the results, you will get to know what changes you have to make in your software and what makes it reliable for the users. 

A comparison test solemnly depends on the type of software tested and use cases particular to a business. 

Step By Step Procedure To Perform Compare Testing

  • The first step in a comparison test is to understand the requirements of the software thoroughly. Go through the SRS (Software Requirement Specification) document. You will know what the software should include. 
  • The software is evaluated against both the specified standard and existing software. 
  • Evaluation results are classified into two categories: performance and preference. 
  • Both the sets are matched against each other. That is, you check the performance of your software with preferred characteristics. 
  • The strengths are noted, and the limitations are then made to rectify by the developers. 
  • After the problems are fixed, the software is again made to undergo comparing testing to confirm the changes and effective working. 

What Are The Merits Of Performing a Comparison Test?

Comparison testing is beneficial to analyse the overall performance of software and to make it suitable for use. Let’s explore its advantages in detail:

You can confirm if the software is profitable or not

No one wants to sell a product that is unable to earn anything. If there is no profit, there would be no sense in even producing it. A comparison test allows checking whether the product is actually needed in the market. 

If yes, then how far it can exist? What are the best selling features of the object that can earn you profit? By evaluating your software with another product, you can figure out the ideal market for your software sales. 

You can make changes beforehand

Once your software is released and put to use, it creates its own reputation in the market. If it performs well, then it’s excellent. What if it fails to satisfy the end users? 

There will be a disappointment, and it somehow affects the reputation of the company as well. Comparison testing avoids such situation by checking all the requirements and missing components beforehand. 

The results of the test will provide you with the weak points in your software so that you can improve them before deploying. 

You can set benchmarks for other products

Comparison testing not always points out the limitations of the software. It also enlists the strengths of your software that make it stand apart from others. In this way, your product would be an example of the testers to compare their software. 

While examining the software with respect to specified norms if you find something that is relevant in your product, make it firm. Your software can be an asset for society only if you realize it. 

Facilitates an appropriate pricing model

A comparison test when conducted between the software to be tested and the currently available product, it specifies the price along with its performance. The product existing in the market has its specification for pricing based on its features. 

When you compare your product, you will evaluate the pricing too. On comparison, you can realize your product’s real worth and can even change the price according to its performance. The test will provide you with the pricing model that is right for your software.

Comparison enhances creativity

Can you imagine how beneficial is to find the limitations of the software? It promotes creativity. When you compare your product with another one, you get to know the weaknesses of your software. You will find the features that make it less effective. What would be your next step? 

You will analyse what your competitors added to the software. Then you would try to incorporate those elements in your software. Obviously, you will not copy it. You will make it innovative in a different way. This is creativity, and it came from comparing. 

Maintain the competition

Comparison testing never allows market competition to end. Software testers keep testing products for quality and performance. They keep looking for new trends and compare their product with the competitors’ one. 

Same goes for their competitors. All of us want to present ourselves in the best possible way, and this keeps the competition alive. As the competition grows, the expectations of the people waiting for our product also increases.

What Are The Demerits of Comparison Testing?

Comparing testing does offer many benefits to you. Well, it has disadvantages too. Every action tends to invite an equal and opposite reaction.  You can take these demerits as warnings to make yourselves alert and prepared for future circumstances. 

  • A comparison test can prove dangerous for you. How is that possible? Well, just like you compared and figured the weaknesses of your competitor’s software, they will also enlist those points in your case.

    When they have information about the loopholes in your software, they will surely use it against you. 

  • Secondly, it is harrowing to modify the software for small alterations or specifications. It can affect the functionality of the entire developed system. You must be very careful while performing a comparison test

    Also, you should complete all the other testing at the same time to avoid incremental updates to preserve software efficiency. 
  • Complacency is another most critical danger of comparison testing. When people go beyond the competition or excel the standards set by the competitors, they just relax. They think there is nothing more to be achieved, and they stop thinking. They stop innovating.

    Consequently, they stop being creative, and this marks the downfall of their software. There is nothing permanent in a software regulated industry, and you cannot afford to sit idle. 

The Takeaway

Comparison testing is an ongoing process. It never ends. People will keep developing software, and you will assess that software for quality. What makes sense is the change that the software undergoes after the test results. It enhances the image of your software product. 

Comparison testing allows you to understand what you and your customers want from a product. How does the product make sense to them? On comparing your product, you are enhancing its usability in reality. You are making it an asset for the people. 

Comparison testing must be the last testing technique as it can create discrepancies in the software for even small updates. If not done rightly, it can affect the performance of the system. It is better if you find all the bugs and errors in the software before reaching comparison testing. 

As a comparison test is to analyse the performance of the product in a competitive environment, minor errors and mistakes should be avoided. 

Using the results of comparison testing, if it is not possible to make the changes in the software, keep your analysis reserves for future editions. Your next release may turn out to be an exceptional one.

Comparison testing indirectly serves the end-users of the software. They have the advantage of selecting the best one for their use.


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