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Neon Smoke

Testing Wars

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

How many times have you dreaded a project’s testing phase? Let’s face it. The battle between forces of good UAT and dark side of bugs is eternal, whilst the fate of user adoption hangs in the balance.

In the expansive and ever-changing ALM chronicles, this pivotal phase stands as the champion of seamless UX, maximiser of performance, and guardian of security. It's not just about performance quality. We also need to balance user stories and technical requirements to deliver an accessible and reliable product people grow to love.

Can we afford to get it wrong?

Numbers speak louder than words. According to the sacred texts in this article, there is a lot at risk but a lot to gain too.

Impact on business performance and customer retention

  • 60% of production issues are caused by untested and faulty code.

  • Below-average UX leads to 67% of customer attrition.

  • The average mobile app naturally loses 77% of Daily Active Users in the first 3 days post installation; imagine how bugs can impact this already harsh trend!

A competitive market edge with the 3Ps

  • Productivity: High-performing teams allocate 22% less time to fixing bugs.

  • Profitability: The automation testing industry is projected to be worth $68 billion by 2025, whilst the global software testing market is expected to reach a staggering $109.5 billion by 2027. Wow!

  • Performance: Testing is a prime area to bridge the gender gap, as over 62% is male testers.

However, this is not a one-size-fits-all process. Different types of testing serve different purposes and address different levels of needs. We need to remember, the biggest asset in everything we do, and our biggest motivation to invest in new tech, is PEOPLE. So, what if we looked at how we should approach testing according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?

A galactic pyramid of human behavior

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a famous psychological theory from 1943 to explore the deeper drivers of human growth and development. It proposes that humans have five basic needs arranged in a pyramid, from the most fundamental at the bottom to the most advanced at the top. Whilst you can see an overview in this intergalactic visual, here is what each level means:

  1. Physiological needs: The basic biological needs for survival, e.g., food, water, air, or sleep.

  2. Safety needs: These are the needs for security, stability, and protection from harm, such as physical safety, financial security, health, and well-being.

  3. Social needs: These are the needs for belonging, love, and acceptance, such as interpersonal relationships, friendship, family, and community.

  4. Esteem needs: These are the needs for respect, recognition, and self-esteem, such as achievement, competence, confidence, and status.

  5. Self-actualization needs: These are the needs for personal growth, fulfilment, and realization of one’s potential, such as creativity, autonomy, and meaning.

According to Maslow, humans are motivated to satisfy their lower-level needs before moving on to their higher-level needs. Only when the lower needs are met, the higher needs become salient and attainable. Furthermore, Maslow suggested that self-actualization is not a fixed state, but a dynamic process of becoming, that requires continuous exploration, learning, and development.

What does this even have to do with testing?

If we understand users and business stakeholders better, we can maximize their perceived value of IT applications. Getting it right means we can set up a solid strategy AND recruit the right mix of people to be involved. Non-professional testers from the business are equally important to champion change from within.

Without further ado, let’s look at each level of the hierarchy and see how testing relates.

  • Physiological Needs

Just as Jedi knights require sustenance and protection, an IT solution needs its users’ fundamental needs to be met. Automated scripts ensure that basic workflows and integrations are as reliable as a well-maintained droid. Enter Azure Test Plans, the Jedi lightsaber of testing tools, is fully integrated with Azure Pipelines. Built-in progress and pipeline test reports provide visibility when it comes to reviewing results. Bear in mind two key things: Your functional user stories are integrated in the acceptance criteria, and your results are shared in a friendly format with business stakeholders and change champions. Business sign-off is key to build confidence early on.

  • Safety Needs

Safety first is a mantra for both rebel fighters and diligent testers. You need a reliable shield to protect your data from the dark side. When you prove to both business and end users you are delivering an equally simple and secure experience, you are building up your brownie points. Penetration testing the applications you deploy in Azure is beneficial both at an individual as well as at a wider Azure ecosystem level. Tip #1: Whilst you no longer have to ask for Microsoft’s pre-approval to do it against Azure resources, you must still comply with the Microsoft Cloud Unified Penetration Testing Rules of Engagement. Tip #2: You are not allowed to execute a Denial of Service (DoS) attack. Tip #3: Remember you must simulate attacks with Microsoft-approved testing partners.

  • Love and Belongingness

The third level is where love and belongingness take centre stage. In endless cycles of digital transformation and natural fatigue, users seek a connection with the sometimes-abstract business vision. Where do they fit and why should they care? If we build a testing strategy in collaboration with Change Champions representing end users, we give them a voice and build a sense of community with the IT team. Prep with Jedi precision; clear scenarios and assignments, stable environments, representative mock data, permissions sorted in advance. This will help with early UAT stages and accommodating fixes in an agile way. Do or do not, there is no try, like Yoda said.

  • Esteem Needs

Ascending our Galactic Pyramid, we reach the level of esteem needs. In this realm, stakeholder satisfaction reigns supreme, akin to a Jedi Master's wisdom. Collecting user feedback during testing can help measure engagement and satisfaction levels to take proactive measures ahead of go-live. Regardless of where you are collecting it (Azure DevOps, Excel, Microsoft Forms etc.), you can easily use sentiment analysis to monitor and visualize progress. Let me give you a super accessible and simple way to do it without special permissions or knowledge of AI Builder. It is with Excel and the Azure Machine Learning add-in.

Here is a quick Excel guide:

  1. Go to Insert > Add-ins.

  2. Add Azure Machine Learning.

  3. Choose Text Sentiment Analysis.

  4. Choose in the Input cell of Predict the range you want the analysis for.

  5. Select which cell the Output goes in.

  6. Click Predict.

You will get a description of Positive, Neutral or Negative and a percentage score showing how close you were to each (the closer to 100% the more positive and vice versa). Imagine all the applications of this simple and cool trick.

Here is an example of the output.

  • Self-Actualization: The Jedi's Path of Continuous Improvement

At the pinnacle of the Galactic Pyramid, we find self-actualization. This is the Jedi's path of continuous improvement, to show users how we provide development opportunities as well as empower their day-to-day roles further. Testing, if planned and promoted correctly, can be an exclusive preview activity to excite everyone for the main release. If you can showcase you have optimized processes and innovated based on users’ discovery stage feedback, you will see organic adoption. Build an immersive communications plan to promote features and set up expectations in conjunction. Initially, you can set up a dedicated SharePoint area and/ or Teams channel to advertise all upcoming features needing testers. Then, you can use Dynamics 365 Customer Insights – Journeys forms and trigger emails to get people to sign up. Imagine if you also personalized these emails with dynamic fields; they could include direct feedback quotes to make them feel heard and provide relevant milestone updates.

May the Testing Force Be with You

As we conclude our journey through our galactic pyramid of needs, remember that the fate of your business solution lies in the delicate balance between the light side of good testing and the dark side of negligence.

Remember, young padawans, good testing is not a choice but a necessity. With the right tools and practices, you can harness the testing force, ensuring the success and adoption of your applications. And then, the galaxy is yours to conquer.

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