04 February 2019

SaaS Testing: How Testing Solves the Various Challenges of SaaS Application

 
SaaS Testing


In today’s world, Technology is a basic need for everyone. A life without any of the electronic products is hard to imagine. There is an application for everything. Whatever your need is there will be a whole bunch of applications available to fulfill your need. In the end, this software makes our lives simpler and more entertaining. It is highly convenient too, just install the software and you are all set to go. But sometimes you need these applications for a group of computers like in an organization and installing these applications in every computer will cost a lot and its maintenance will be costly and tedious too. 

To overcome this situation there are SaaS applications

What is SaaS Application?

SaaS is an abbreviation for Software as a Service. In simple words, it is a service that provides you software in the form of a pay-as-you-go service. You don’t have to install the application as it is provided to you through the internet as a service by a third-party. 

It is basically a cloud-based delivery system for software. It is centrally hosted and licensed on the basis of your subscription. It is also referred to as “on-demand software” or “software plus services”. Here the provider maintains the application software and also provides automatic updates of the application over the web. It is typically accessed by the users via web browsers. 

It is widely used in businesses, corporations, and institutions as the cost is lowered significantly and upgrades the business solutions more quickly and it is better than maintaining it on the system itself. This is because everything is done and maintained by the provider if the SaaS application. The provider has to manage all the hardware, security, the application software, and updates. 

Software as a Service (SaaS) has been in use in almost all leading enterprise and it is used for various Business applications such as:

payroll processing software, office software, DBMS software, messaging software, CAD software, gamification, management software, development software, virtualization, invoicing, customer relationship management (CRM),enterprise resource planning (ERP), talent acquisition, accounting, collaboration, Management Information Systems (MIS), enterprise resource planning (ERP), human resource management(HRM), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), learning management systems, and many more.

SaaS is among the main categories of Cloud Computing along with Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

This hosting service is dated back to 1960s, the delivery system for software was called time-sharing at that time. Later in the early 1980s, Local Area Network is developed and was used at that time. With the advancement of the internet in the late 1990s, the SaaS has also evolved with many providers started to host and provide software via the internet. Before SaaS, the delivery model was known as Application service provider (ASP) model. The term SaaS was coined in the late 1990s.

 

Salesforce

source: Example of SaaS application

The main benefits of SaaS in business are:

Low upfront cost as the cost of hardware, installation, and implementation are significantly reduced.

It can easily and accurately predict the ongoing cost of managing, updating and patching the hardware and software. It also reduces the risk of managing the software and cloud security. 

Rapid deployment as it is easy to use and takes only a few hours to start running and it is available with the latest update.

It also meets the growing needs of data and transactions.

What is SaaS Testing?

SaaS has evolved enormously and now it can connect everything rapidly and securely. It is a necessity for an organization to use SaaS in order to be efficient and get ahead in this advanced world. But choosing a SaaS should also be done carefully because some providers can be complicated, and their service can be very poor. So just like trying every piece of clothing before buying something, a SaaS should also be tested thoroughly. 

The needs of the particular individual or the organization should be kept in mind as they can have different needs and there are lots of factors to consider before choosing an appropriate SaaS. Some of the factors that are needed to be considered before choosing a SaaS are Return on investment, Compliances, Security, Integration, and Platform suitability.

SaaS testing 

Saas testing is a method to make sure that the quality of the software that is provided as a service is as per the requirements and needs of the organization or an individual by performing various validations. It usually involves testing of data security, business logic, privacy, data integration, optimization of testing, interface compatibility, scalability, and performance, among others. It is just a validation with respect to certain components. 

SaaS testing involves shorter cycles for testing as compared to the testing of traditional software services because of its architectural model. The testing of SaaS applications has some similarities with the approach of traditional training but it is more difficult because the delivery of SaaS is faster, so quality assurance needs to be taken care of and a good amount of knowledge is required to deal with the non-configurable and configurable components involved in SaaS application. 

SaaS testing has some advantages over traditional training like the upgrading cost and the maintenance cost is lower. The risk involved in case of SaaS testing is also lower than the traditional testing. The accessibility of SaaS is also better than the traditional way as we don’t have to install the software in case of SaaS because it can be accessed through the internet. Some agile testing is also involved in SaaS testing due to the speed of the delivery. 

The things that should be tested during SaaS testing

Performance Testing

One of the most crucial factors for the SaaS application is the performance. Every step of the application needs to be tested on the basis of its performance parallel to its workflow. The result of the experiment that is expected depends on the tester, they can test according to their needs. You can also stress the system using various load tests in order to determine the ability of the application to handle some steady loads and it can also be used to determine the maximum level that can be supported. The testing of SaaS application on the basis of performance is of vital importance to the provider’s success and it will be of great use to many organizations.

Security Testing

This is also a very important concern while choosing a SaaS provider. It is of prime importance that proper testing regarding the security should be carried out and if there are any threats to the user’s data then it will be a prohibition of privacy and the SaaS application will not be considered as reliable and secured.

Availability Testing 

The timing during which the service is available is also a major thing to be tested. The application should be available all the time for its users. If the application goes through too many downtimes, then it will be very inconvenient for the user as he won’t be able to access the application during these down times.

Stress or Load Testing 

Sometimes in bigger organizations, there might be too much load or stress which exceeds the usual load which can cause the application to crash. Therefore, the SaaS applications are also tested for some  extra amount of loads which exceeds its usual working capacity.

Interoperability

Different organizations or individual perform different platforms to work on like windows or iOS or some other platform. Hence the SaaS application should work smoothly in every platforms and environment so that every organization or individual can use them.

Business Workflow Test

We need the best out of the SaaS application, therefore, knowing the different components of the application will make it easier to test and get good results as expected and according to your need.

Integration Tests and Migration Tests 

Some people tend to work on a particular kind of application of a specific file format. The SaaS applications are also tested for these kinds of data migration or data integrations as well. Here along with data integration, the privacy of data and security is also tested while integrating data from other platforms.

The testing of SaaS applications comes with certain difficulties and unique features but with proper guidance, planning, and right skill set you can easily test the applications and compare them and choose the best one according to your needs.

Reasons behind opting for SaaS testing 

The reason behind opting for SaaS app testing is plain and simple. You want to test whether that application will serve your needs with quality service or not. It is just like buying clothes from a store, first, you try a couple of trousers to see whether its size is proper, does they look good and if they feel comfortable.

Similarly, in SaaS app testing you check the quality of the application, its reliability, its availability, its security and everything that you want. You test it, you compare and then take the best application which serves the right purpose for your work.

The SaaS application testing brings a lot of benefit for different organizations and businesses. The SaaS application testing doesn’t require the client-server testing of any kind. There are some factors which make the SaaS app testing easier for the business. 

The challenges of SaaS Application Testing

In the world of advanced technology, there are lots of challenges to SaaS app testing. The challenges might differ depending on the project you are pursuing. 

Some of the common challenges in SaaS app testing are:

  • If new updates are released every now and then and within a short period of time, the application can change so much. So when you test on a particular version of the app it is highly possible that a new update will be released just after your testing. Hence your previous testing will be of no use as there will be some minor or major changes in the new update. 
  • There is always the risk of some fault in the security and your privacy can be at risk. Sometimes at the same time due to many user behaviors, your privacy can be at a risk and there is a chance for customer data exchange.
  • Performance issues can occur anytime even after testing the performance of the SaaS application. There can be some issues with performance when there will be a substantial amount of users who can operate the app from different locations.
  • SaaS application also supports the integration or migration of the data from other platforms. In this case, it can become really difficult to protect privacy and maintain the integrity of the data. Sometimes there can be some discrepancies with the back end parts if the application which is associated with the front end components. The application has no standardization.

Here are some ways in which you can overcome some of the challenges mentioned above. To stop the frequent updates, the scripts can be automated.

Determining the areas in which there are more users will be very helpful. The services and accessibility can be made better in those areas. There can be strong encryption for data security during data integration.

The SaaS applications are evolving every day creating new challenges and overcoming previous ones. 

docusign

source: Example of SaaS application

Types of testing required for a SaaS-based application

During the testing of SaaS-based applications, every aspect of the application should be tested. In general, there are two types of testing that are performed on SaaS applications, they are manual testing and automated testing. But the main types of testing required for SaaS-based application which are explained briefly above are:

  1. Testing during selection
  2. Testing the performance 
  3. Testing for security
  4. Testing the manageability
  5. Testing the availability and continuity
  6. Testing the functionality
  7. Testing for migrations
  8. Testing because of legislation and regulation
  9. Testing during production

Manual testing and SaaS application

Manual testing is done to find bugs in the application. In this type of testing, the tester manually puts in the test cases and executes them without the aid of any automation tools. It is the most basic form of testing and requires a lot of effort. 

Here the tester plays a vital role as an end user and validates that the application is working properly. In manual testing, the tester first creates a document which describes the plan to carry out the testing in a detailed way. The test cases are prepared in such a way so as to cover the whole application. We need to perform manual testing on every new application before testing it using the autonomous ways. 

The main goal of manual testing is to make sure that the application is running properly and it is error free. It should also work as per the functional requirement. Manual testing can be done several times and if a bug or defect is reported and the developer fixes the bug and the application is again tested with the new version of the application in which the previous defects were fixed. In the end, the main goal is to make the application bug free. 

There might be one or more doubts in your mind that why should we do manual testing when we have automated tools to do the testing and find every possible mistake committed by the application. The automated testing takes less time as well and less work is needed. 

This is because there are many glitches and bugs that the testing process of an autonomous system cannot detect, that means there are certain bugs and glitches that can only be observed through manual testing. Therefore, an application undergoes both manual testing and autonomous testing to make an application perfect for use.

There are a few types of manual testing:

  1. White box testing 
  2. Acceptance testing
  3. Integration Testing
  4. White box testing
  5. Black box testing
  6. Acceptance Testing

In SaaS application testing, manual testing is also performed to get a good product which will be bug-free. In manual testing of SaaS application usually, black box testing or white box testing is present. 

The steps to perform manual testing of SaaS application involves

1. Firstly read the project documentation and project guide of the software and understand it thoroughly. You can also consider studying the AUT (Application Under Test) if it is available.

2. Make the plan document in which you can draft all your test cases which will be able to cover the needs and expectations that are mentioned in the documents that you read in the first step of manual testing.

3. Discuss and review the test cases with your team in order to make sure that the planning before the actual testing is good or not.

4. After finalizing the test cases, you can execute them on the Application Under Test.

5. Report bugs so that the developers can fix them and make the software better.

6. When these bugs are fixed, execute the test cases that were failing before in order to validate that they pass and that particular bug doesn’t exist anymore.

The things that a tester needs to keep in mind or any person wanting to perform manual testing should keep in mind are that the manual testing needs a lot of patience, creativity, and open-mindedness. It should also be noted that manual testing requires certain skill sets and you should find as many defects as possible. 

Test Automation Approach for SaaS Products

In the previous section, we have learned that manual testing requires time and physical efforts in order to make sure that the application is working as it is supposed to be. In manual testing, the testers are obligated to sit in front of the computers and record the data corresponding to each test case which involves a lot of work. 

Before any new application is used it undergoes both manual and automated testing. In the automated testing, an autonomous tool executes the test cases. It will automatically prepare a report and can compare the expected result with the actual result. It single-handedly tests the functionality of the application in a way close to that of a user. 

In the case of automated testing, more time is spent on maintaining the test script while the exploratory test will complete in much less time. Automated testing also requires some amount of investment of resources and money. The main goal of automated testing is to lessen the number of test cases as much as possible and not to completely eliminate the Manual testing. 

Why do we need Automated Testing? 

As we are already doing manual testing and automated also costs some amount of money and resources. The most common answer is that the organization is already investing a lot of resources in making the application so it can push a little bit for good quality and performance assurance. 

The other reasons are that there are too many downsides to manual testing, as it is much more time and resource consuming. It is also more error-prone and tedious. Manually testing for a multilingual site is very difficult. On the other hand, there are some good upsides of automated testing like it doesn’t require any human intervention at all. It can run on its own you can leave it overnight unattended. 

It also increases the test execution speed and also increases the test coverage. The automated testing is also helpful as it can reduce the number of test cases to be executed in the manual testing. Thus making the process of manual testing a little bit easy and less tedious. 

We can also select specific test cases which can be automated as there are some categories of test cases which are not suitable for use in automated testing. 

The following test cases can be selected for automated testing:

  1. Business critical or High-risk test cases
  2. Repeatedly executed test cases
  3. The test cases which are difficult or tedious to execute in manual testing
  4. Time-consuming test cases

The test cases which are not suitable for automated testing are: 

  • The newly designed test cases or the ones which are not performed manually even once
  • The test cases whose requirement keeps on changing frequently.

Automated testing involves the following steps

Selection of the test tool 

The selection for test tool is highly dependent on the technology on which our AUT( Application under test) is built on. 

Defining the Automation Scope

The area of the AUT (Application under test) which can be automated is known as the Automation scope. Some points that help in determining the Automation scope are the important feature of the business, technical feasibility, test cases complexity, and the extent of reusing of business components.

Planning, Designing and Developing: In this phase, the strategy and plan for Automation are created which generally contains the details listed below:

  1. Selected tools for Automation
  2. Preparation of Automation testbed
  3. Automation items like the In-scope items or out-of-scope items
  4. Scripting and execution timeline
  5. Feature and design of the framework 
  6. Delivering the testing of Automation

Test Execution 

In this phase, the execution of Automated scripts takes place. We provide the needed test data inputs and then run it. It will create an accurate test report. We can use the automation tool or the test management tool for execution. 

Maintenance 

The last step is, of course, maintaining the system. Many new things are added to the system to keep it maintained like the Automated Scripts. Maintenance can improve the Automation Scripts effectiveness. 

A framework for Automation guidelines helps in:

  • Maintaining the consistency of the testing
  • Improving the test structuring
  • Minimizing the usage of the code
  • Improving the re-usability
  • The involvement of Non-Technical testers in the code
  • Reduction if training period for using of the tool
  • Involving the appropriate data

In Automation Testing, four types of frameworks are used:

  • Modular Automation Framework
  • Data Driven Automation Framework
  • Modular Automation Framework
  • Hybrid Automation Framework

There are many benefits of Automated testing. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • Way faster than manual testing 
  • Consistency is ensured 
  • Highly efficient
  • Provides better test coverage
  • Saves cost as well as time
  • Improved accuracy
  • No human is required during execution 
  • Tested very thoroughly 
  • Automation involves more execution cycles
  • The test scripts can be re-usable

Choosing a tool for automation is also necessary as it can affect the end result thus increasing the error in testing. Following points can help in selecting a good tool for Automation:

  • Environmental Support
  • Database testing 
  • Easy to use
  • Identification of the object
  • Object Mapping
  • Image testing
  • The language used for Scripting
  • Detailed test results 
  • Minimizing the training cost of some selected tools
  • Supporting different test types like test manager

Some of the examples of Good tools for Automation testing are:

  • Tricentis
  • MABL
  • Selenium
  • QTP (MicroFocus UFT) 
  • Rational Function Tester
  • Watir
  • Silk Test

The selection of a good automation tool, team, and testing process is necessary for successful automation. Therefore, chose it carefully according to your needs. For a good and bug-free application, both automation and manual testing methods are performed. 

SaaS Testing: Use of Agile Methodology

 

saas testing agile

Before jumping any further, let’s check in on the Agile methodology. Agile is a method of project management used in software development. It involves dividing the task into short phases of work and reassessment and adapting the plans. 

Agile Methodology is the practice which promotes a series of continuous iteration of testing and development throughout the developing lifecycle of the project. Agile is a method of project management used in software development. It involves dividing the task into short phases of work and reassessment and adapting the plans.

Now let’s jump into testing, in agile testing just like in agile methodology explained above the product management and development go hand-in-hand. The whole process of testing contains many pieces like testing functions and developing them, firmware related testing and its development and many more that you have already read above. 

Instead of doing all things that are required, an agile team picks up one piece at a time, work together as a team to complete that piece properly and then move on to the next piece like first they will focus on performance issues of the application and test them and then report the bugs to be fixed. So they go piece by piece and eventually finish the project. 

These pieces are often termed as stories. The objective is to finish a story which means to finish a piece. When a story is completed it means that the development work, the product management work, and the testing work are working together to achieve a common goal. The product owner identifies and prioritizes these stories. 

Stories are often selected on the basis of the effort estimate and priority. All the challenges which will come while completing a story are also identified like some testing and technical challenges. Finally, the team decides final acceptance of a story and determine the deadline to complete that story. 

An agile team consists of both developers and testers. Everyone on the team performs testing to make it continuous, however, the timing of testings’ can be different depending upon the type of testing performed. In the team, the developers usually take the charge of code-level testing. 

On the other side, the testers in the team give feedback during the different stages of development. They also take charge of building test plans, test automation acceptance and to find more test scenarios via exploratory testing. They also make sure that the accepted test coverage is satisfactory or not. They also take the lead on automation effort of system-level testing, availability of data and keeping test environment. They also share various testing techniques that they have used. There are some additional testings’ which are not covered under the testing of these stories like regression testing, these things are dealt using a test-oriented story, which is planned, tracked and estimated just like other stories. 

So to conclude, the agile methodology is adapted to make the process to complete faster and with perfection. This methodology can be applied to any type of work. It increases productivity and there is a high chance that the work will be error free. 

Since it divides the work into smaller pieces and completing a piece is much more easier than completing the whole task so there will be bits of success in every step which leads to happiness. This is why agile methodology is used in every product development project.

 

SaaS Testing Tools

We have already studied the types of testing, the importance of testing and different things that are involved in the SaaS testing. So, for testing SaaS apps, several testing tools are available in the market.

These tools are used to make sure that the SaaS model works and functions properly. These tools are also equipped with all the required things for testing that are discussed above. 

SaaS testing tools also include the agile methods of testing as well to accelerate the testing process and deliver a quality application to the market. 

SaaS testing tools are incorporated with automation testing tools in order to increase the efficiency of quality assurance, unit testing, functional testing, and performance testing of application interfaces. 

These tools may also include the adherence to meet the industry standards, agreements provided to the client which states the level of service that they will provide. Different tools provide you with different feature and will serve differently. So you have to choose a tool according to your needs and requirements. 

Some tools have a really good interface while some are easier to use. Some provide you the option to edit your test cases at every step so that you can make changes frequently instead of changing a mistake after finishing the whole process. Some tools also provide a good quality summary of the result which can be very helpful in the project.

SaaS testing tools that might help you

PraciTest 

PractiTest

PractiTest provides a high-quality testing service. They have end-to-end systems which provide excellent quality assurance and testing services to their clients. With this tool, the user is allowed to control the testing and development processes. 

It is a Test Case Management tool, it allows organizations to establish communication and visibility at all levels. It is also helpful for teams in project development as it manages and organizes their process of testing and it manages with clear and a simplified view of the project’s status at all time. 

We can also create our own integration as it provides the tools like API. This tool has a fair share of technical advantages, but it also provides human support as well, which make it a top-class SaaS testing solution. 

QMetry

QMetry

QMetry is also a Test Case Management. It is a fundamental block of a well-defined testing process. The Tool has a great interface which allows users to write about their test cases which will link them to the related defects and requirements. 

It allows flexibility, so it will be ideal if the requirements of your organization change frequently. Its dynamic interface allows us to execute the test cases while recording the status and the results. It also creates an Overall summary of the testing progress and you can also create some new defects in case of failing test execution. It also contains a feature which will allow you to review all of the previous bugs which are related to a specific test case. It also allows you to edit the test cases at any point in time so that you can correct the errors found due to a test case. 

QTest

QTest

QTest is a highly scalable and elegant test management tool which has many features. It is very user-friendly which means it is very easy to learn and use it. It also provides a free trial so that you can test it and make sure it is the right tool to go for. It serves good for both large enterprises as well as small teams. In the case of small teams, it allows you to organize the test activities easily and they can later grow bigger and scale up accordingly. 

While for large enterprises, QTest allows easy tracking, managing, and coordination of multiple projects of software testing. QTest allows you to organize and plan as per your project schedule and provides you with a common repository where you can manage and store documentation of test cases. It also allows you to view and edit test results and defects. It has a great user interface so you can easily see the status of your project. 

Conclusions

In conclusion, SaaS applications are evolving at a great speed and almost every big enterprise is incorporating SaaS applications for an easy and fluid work environment. It saves a lot of resources as mentioned in detail in this article. The testing is a crucial step in choosing a SaaS application, you need to make sure that the provider fulfills your needs with their services. 

There are many technical aspects involved in SaaS testing which are explained in great details above. Since every organization or individual has different needs you need to make sure that you are getting the correct Software as a service application. 

This is because everyone has different needs and every provider serves for different needs. So, testing the application will help the organization and it helps in overcoming the different challenges of SaaS application.

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