Topcoder Quality-as-a-Service Part 3: Structured (Test Case Design)

Finding the right support to assist you in a testing environment isn’t always easy. Not only does app testing take critical thinking, unique perspectives, and a solid handle on the source code. It also requires heavy manual pour-over and multiple testers. This is especially true with manual testing practices like test cases.

Hiring a team of quality testers is expensive, time-consuming, and risky. You need eyes on your app, but you don’t have the time or resources to commit to full pipeline testing.

So, what do you do? How do you glue superior testing practices to your software development lifecycle when quality assurance (QA) requires so many resources? Better yet, how do you continue to compete in a highly commercialized app environment without the right QA processes.

Let’s talk about how you can create an ecosystem of quality assurance by utilizing Topcoder’s rich selection of testers. And let’s see how having access to thousands of testers in hundreds of countries can give you the leverage you need to produce and execute cases.

What Are Test Cases?

Quality assurance (QA) can involve automation, scripts, scenarios, and plenty of other manual testing phases. Among these, test cases help provide clarity and risk reduction across multiple channels while remaining fluid enough to utilize the skills and expertise of the testers themselves.

The simplest way to describe a test case is by thinking of it as a set of steps that real users would take when using your application. Each test case has multiple steps that cover a specific functionality scenario. Let’s say you have a killer eCommerce app. There will be several vital functions that users can do. They may include searching through a menu for items, viewing advanced details of an item, adding an item to the cart, paying, etc.

Test cases cover functional flows for each of those functionality scenarios. So, you may run a test case for viewing item details. Or, you may run a test case for adding an item to the cart.

Unlike scenarios, where testing is broader, test cases approach granular functions. They isolate them and attempt to discover any issues within that function.

So, when it comes time to run test cases on your new application, you need to be able to rely on a core of highly-skilled, knowledgeable testing experts who understand the nuances of testing granular functions and discovering critical issues within those functions.

How Topcoder Can Help

There are two primary issues facing companies that need to run test cases on their latest updates or new apps — people and capital. Most new apps (or app updates) will have a log of observed issues. These either come from users, or automated testing procedures discover them. While you can certainly attempt to hand the entire log off to a single tester, successful test cases require a team.

You need multiple eyes on the prize, and you need each problem addressed systematically and thoroughly. Of course, hiring the right people isn’t easy. Between headhunters, onboarding, training, and benefits, hiring a single tester is expensive. At Topcoder, we’ve cultivated a crowd of highly-successful, competitive, and passionate testers who can help you scale your quality assurance at a fraction of the cost.

How? Let’s take a look at how the world’s most extensive space program — NASA (Yeah! That NASA) utilized Topcoder to help them soar higher, explore further, and continue to research the final frontier.

NASA Test Case

Initially, NASA came to us to help them create a UI prototype for their Open MCT framework — an open source mission control software developed by Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. After successfully completing that project, we were tasked with testing use cases on application features added in the latest release.

Here’s how it worked:

  1. Test cases were established, written, and submitted to the appropriate reservoir (i.e., GitHub).
  2. Crowd workers were tasked with testing each use case.
  3. Use cases were built so that each one requires three separate testers. This ensures that each test case is being appropriately understood and approached from unique angles.
  4. Results of the test cases were recorded and supplied to NASA for further analysis.

This gave NASA the scale they needed to handle their log of test cases. And it gave them incredible savings by approaching a pool of testers that were already experienced and prepared to handle complex quality assurance issues like test cases.

Why NASA Left With a Smile

Not only was NASA able to successfully test all test cases in their log, but they did so rapidly and at scale. Not only did Topcoder help them identify and write test cases, but our community also executed those test cases and reported the results.

During the course of our NASA test case challenge, Topcoder members successfully identified over 80 test cases, wrote those cases, attached them to GitHub issues, end-to-end tested them for conformance, and reported the findings.

The Open MCT Framework is an incredibly powerful mission control solution. It helps visualize data for spacecraft missions as well as assists in planning and operations of rover systems. So, it was critical that each test case was handled appropriately. Also, it was vital that multiple testers were able to approach each use case in their own way.

The results were over 50 recorded issues and plenty of savings on NASA’s part.

Final Thoughts

Writing, executing, and reporting test cases is a vital part of comprehensive quality assurance for applications. As apps continue to undergo commercialization and business, prepare to launch faster, smarter, and with more quality. Testing has become a core pillar of business success. With Topcoder, companies can save time, money, and headaches by tapping into a group of highly-vetted and incredibly talented QA testers.

Are you ready to experience better testing? Do you want access to top-level QA specialists without all of the hassles? Contact us.