What to consider when defining performance test goals and metrics

Performance Metrics

Variety is the spice of life and this is true for software as well. Not only are there applications for nearly everything under the sun, but there are a number of ways that developers and testers can approach creating and evaluating each program. The main goal of any QA management effort, however, is to make an app that meets user needs and works as expected. To do this, QA teams leverage performance testing to measure how well the testers are achieving goals and the app's capability to handle pressure. Let's look at some items to consider when defining performance test goals and metrics:

Use some common goals

The goals for every project will be different, but there are a few that can overlap for any performance testing initiative. Hewlett Packard Enterprise noted that these could include ensuring that the application is working properly, that business needs are being met, that the hardware is capable of supporting the project and that any issues are being addressed appropriately. If the app is going slower after a new update, for example, this could mean that there are issues within the code's interoperability or that the hardware simply cannot process the new programming.

Account for issues over time

The problems testers face now may have a correlation with issues seen in the past. HPE emphasized that there should be individuals that are focused on analyzing the performance testing results and identifying defects. This will be critical to supporting the app under the demand load and ensuring that it is provisioned appropriately to provide a quality user experience across the board. With these testing metrics, teams will not only be able to recognize trends, but they can also use their previous experiences to solve current and future problems. This will be important to achieving faster time to market and a high quality product.

"By looking at the monitoring metrics and diagnostic data, one can begin to correlate data and help pinpoint problems," HPE stated. "They can also notice trends that may become problems overtime. Just running a loadtest without analysis will not give you that insight. It will just let you know that the test appeared to run ok for that test run."

Continued support after release

With agile software development, teams no longer just deploy a project and are done with it. Today's applications require continual support to ensure that it remains valuable to the user and is functional under rising needs. Olenick Associate Jim Dufresne noted that teams will have to keep track of the number of users who concurrently access the program, access speeds, locations, transaction response times and server metrics. All of this information will be integral to keeping the app updated and upholding a positive experience across all platforms. If the quantity of software users drops, for example, this is a clear indicator that something just isn't working as it should. Whether it's load times, ease of navigation or functionality, metrics can give teams insight regarding what areas need to be addressed.

Consider the user's journey

There are a number of metrics that matter to a business's bottom line, but only a few that actually align with what users are concerned with. For example, application speed and response time may take higher precedence than CPU and data usages. QA Consultants suggested testing the entire user's journey, fully evaluating how a person interacts with the software and how the app meets needs. The interface and feature integration are also important parts to evaluate when looking through a potential user's eyes.

"Careful deliberation should also be paid to what kind of data is being collected by the system performance metrics," QA Consultants stated. "To get a true reading on system performance, the metrics need to be sufficiently granular and be able to be accurately collected."

Testing teams are the backbone of any quality project, and they must have access to the best information possible with the proper test management system. By understanding the user's journey, what common goals other teams are using, issues over time and how to support the app after release, QA can gain some significant insight to help the software remain relevant throughout its lifecycle.

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