Testing Wireless Systems
Leveraging automated testing tools
By: Chris Bowlds
Oct. 30, 2008 02:05 PM
Wireless devices provide users with freedom, convenience, and flexibility. But as their dependency on wireless devices grows, users are becoming increasingly concerned about the quality and performance of wireless networks.
Today's service providers are aware of these concerns and are making big changes to ensure their wireless networks live up to customer expectations. This includes changing their approach to quality assurance (QA) testing. Service providers now recognize that they must test both the device and the network to maximize performance and interoperability. Service providers also have realized something else: How they approach wireless system testing can profoundly impact the quality of their wireless solutions.
Wireless Means Greater Complexity
Amid short product cycles, surging complexity, and steadfast competition, the list of items to test grows. Yet service providers seldom have enough time to test everything on this list - such as all the combinations of encryption on their larger deployments. Without 100 percent test coverage, however, they risk missing something critical in the testing process. Whether that is a device feature or a compatibility issue, customers will have a problem that needs to be fixed - and making a repair in the field will cost them time and resources.
Steps to More Efficient and Effective Wireless System Testing
The following tips can further help service providers approach wireless system testing in a more strategic manner. The goal being to ensure that devices not only work as designed, but also work as part of a larger system, a completely integrated solution.
Conduct System Testing in Parallel with Feature Testing
One recommendation is to start system testing much earlier, in parallel with device and feature testing. System testing reveals different issues than feature testing, and no matter how new a product is, organizations need to test it and test for both aspects. By testing as much as possible from both perspectives, organizations will be able to more quickly identify and resolve defects. The benefits are not only greater efficiency and coverage, but a better quality product produced in less time.
Determine Which Tests Are/Should Be Manual
The first tests to evaluate for automation are those that are menial and repetitive, and performed for every build. The second set of tests or processes to consider are those involving large numbers of devices that must be set up, and in which testing consists of orchestrating numerous commands in a specific order or simultaneously. By having a tool that can rapidly and reliably execute these tasks time and again, organizations can save large amounts of time. In addition, such targeted automation can provide organizations with significant productivity and coverage gains, resulting in better quality.
Identify Which Tests Need to Be Repeated with Every Release
Organizations should focus on automating the tests that they execute numerous times over the release cycle. These might be menial, repetitive tests, but organizations increase their risk of error by performing them manually. After automating these tests, organizations can set their sights on automating the more complex test cases.
Design for Testability
Make Quality the Goal, Not Automation
Organizations therefore need a quality metric that's tied to a business value, such as customer satisfaction, and not simply a number denoting how many test cases they automated. With this data, they can pinpoint where (in the cycle) automation delivers the greatest return, both to the business and to customers. They can then make better, more strategic decisions about implementing automated testing tools - and automate the right things.
Automated Testing Tools for Wireless System Testing: Measuring Results in Quality
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