Tech industry veterans have become accustomed to hearing about the next big thing - that disruptive technology that's going to completely upend how things are done and dramatically change everyday processes. In most cases, these developments fail to deliver, becoming passing fads that never really gain traction. With that history, it would be easy to dismiss the Internet of Things as simply another flash in the pan. However, the IoT is the real deal and quickly gaining steam as more connected devices emerge. It's a question of if - not when - the IoT becomes the status quo. As such, quality assurance teams should begin planning out how to tweak their test management strategies to accommodate this shift.
Going beyond software
As QA expert and TechTarget contributor Gerie Owen noted, one of the main concerns about testing in an Internet of Things environment is the need to vet the devices along with their underlying software. This has never before really been the purview of QA teams, so it's understandable if testers are a little hesitant about expanding their responsibilities in this regard. The scope of testing needs with IoT can be pretty overwhelming.
"In addition to functional and non-functional testing, you must test across platforms, browsers, network connections and in various geographical locations," Owen explained. "Usability is more important in this realm than ever before, as you must consider how the user actually interacts with the device."
Whenever QA teams approach complex projects such as those they'll encounter with IoT, it's best to have a comprehensive test management platform in place to help organize assets, lay out responsibilities and get all stakeholders on the same page. By doing so, test leaders can eliminate any confusion regarding what needs to be covered at any given stage of development.
Adapting unit tests
The IoT will add a lot more complexity to everyday QA responsibilities. By introducing a physical component to testing, IoT projects will considerably increase the scope of the QA team. This can already be seen with unit testing, which has traditionally been pretty well-trodden ground for the majority of software testers out there. The wrinkle added by IoT here is coping with physical inputs and outputs. The BugHuntress explained that recreating these types of environments for testing purposes could be extremely difficult, and QA teams will be left with two choices: either working with the actual hardware or hoping that a proper simulation will be made available.
Another issue to note with unit testing is the larger need for automation when executing such tasks. Automation can be something of a tricky subject for QA teams as some project stakeholders may be turned off by the up-front costs of writing test scripts. When used properly, however, automated scripts can more than make up for their initial investment by covering more ground than manual processes as well as giving testers more time to address other critical software quality assurance needs. The trick here, beyond simply writing effective scripts, is to have a method in place to share these tools with every member of the QA team. By implementing a test management platform, QA leaders can provide testers with a way to upload and disseminate their automated scripts. This way, everyone can have a chance to leverage automation and reduce the amount of physical testing in a given project.
Furthermore, QA teams can store the most effective automated test scripts for later projects. For the software testers, it's as simple as accessing the test dashboard and retrieving whatever tools they require. Given how much ground needs to be covered with IoT projects, stakeholders can expect development to go at a break-neck pace. By getting the most out of their automated resources, they can better meet the challenges of working within IoT environments.