In 2019, when Gartner predicted that working remotely will be on high demand, most businesses didn’t agree with the likelihood. But, guess who is working remotely now?
After the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, almost every organization was forced to allow its employees to work from home which made us realize the challenges of working remotely. Although most industries coped up with the remote working process, it was a bit intimidating for software companies. Software testing teams were impacted the most due to the location and synchrony constraints. The dependence on physical devices, infrastructure, and the internet makes it even more complicated for remote testing teams to execute tasks and overcome the key challenges of software testing.
No doubt, remote testing offers the flexibility and freedom to work from home, but QA teams and the IT companies cannot overlook some key challenges of software testing. This blog will explore all the major challenges associated with remote testing and offer guidance about overcoming the challenges of working remotely. Let’s start!
Key Challenges Of Remote Testing
In the US alone, there was a significant rise of 159% in remote work between 2005 and 2017 (Source: FlexJobs). We can imagine how drastically these numbers have gone up over the last few months. And so have the challenges of working remotely. Software testers particularly bore the brunt of the suddenness in remote work. Remote testing teams have been scrabbling hard to get back on track and we could not help but notice the key challenges of software testing. After interacting with various testers, who are working remotely, we got to know about the biggest remote testing challenges faced by them. Here they are-
1. Lack of Communication
“You can never over-communicate enough as a leader, but at a remote company, nothing could be truer. Since you don’t physically see people in-person, information doesn’t spread in the same way. So leaders need to do the heavy lifting for evangelizing the message.”
— Claire Lew
Lack of communication has turned out to be one of the significant challenges for software teams while working remotely. As per Forbes, it has been observed that working remotely makes it more complicated for employers to communicate, especially when it comes to having discussions that involve critical interpretations. Although individuals use effective communication tools like Slack, Teams, or Google Meetup, sometimes it becomes awkward to clarify the tone and urgency of some messages.
For instance, if your colleagues are working from a different country and they use phrases to describe a problem, chances are you might not get it. That’s why it is crucial to have an effective communication environment, where employees feel comfortable and communicate concisely.
In our opinion, it is recommended to use video calls while communicating with co-workers to understand things like testing requirements, test scenarios, or tools more precisely.
2. Teaming Up
While working in the office, there are superiors or team leaders to see what their employees are working on. But, in a distributed testing team, there is no one to look after, and that’s where QAs find it challenging to make changes in application code. Also, your team members cannot see all the changes that you make in a test script, which makes it difficult to understand whether you’re succeeding at your job or not.
This is one of the key challenges of software testing and that’s where it becomes critical to be in sync with your colleagues. You’ll have to provide continuous updates to your teammates, inform them about the issues that you’re facing, and much more.
Moreover, you can also inform your team members about the features you have tested, how you have tested them, and what changes you noticed after testing a feature. It will make it easier for your co-workers to understand what you’re working on and what you have achieved so far.
3. Technical Failures
Remote testing teams use a lot of technological components, such as a system with multiple applications running on it, third-party screen sharing tools, recording tools, and IM clients. But, no matter how reliable configurations your system has, things can always go wrong. For example, you never know when you run into problems with the internet connection, muddy international phone calls, software not running properly on your computer, etc.
Any of these can delay your work by a considerable time, and you might not be able to get excuses to get over these issues. Thus, it is recommended to test everything a day before you start the testing process. A few things that you could check instantly involve:
- Screen sharing — Make sure it is not interrupted throughout the testing process due to internet connection.
- Recordings not working — The last thing you would want after recording a testing scenario is that there is no sound in it, so make sure the recordings are working fine.
- Video recording — Test the configuration of the recording tool and make sure it doesn’t stop or fluctuate while running multiple applications in the background.
- Internet connection — Most of the testing scenarios would be executed over the browser, so check the internet connectivity.
Sometimes, a normal technical problem can abruptly end everything in the process, even if you have tested it over a thousand times. Well, we cannot stop technical issues from occurring, but we can prepare ourselves by planning and setting everyone’s expectations ahead of time. The only trick is to stay prepared for all the challenges of working remotely.
4. Cross-cultural Differences
In most companies, remote testing teams work from different areas and countries. For instance, in my company, two testing members work from the USA, while others work from India. Now, the working culture might be similar here and there, but from where we belong does affect our behavior and understanding.
Also, it’s not necessary that all your remote testing team members work in the same way as you do. There can be variations in the ways they execute a task or communicate with others. Thus, before moving on to working with a remote testing team, it is crucial to understand their working behavior and nuances.
Understanding these distinctions is one of the key challenges of software testing. It will help you know the people in a better way, and your remote testing team will be able to function more efficiently.
5. Productive Collaboration
When you work with a team that is distributed geographically, it becomes hard to collaborate with them continuously. Most testers need to stay in front of their laptop at varied time zones to catch up with their team members, and they end up losing a lot of time.
One thing is for sure that you cannot have last-minute meetings while working remotely, especially in varied time zones. Thus, it is better to plan ahead by keeping all the time zones in mind so that every team member can join the meeting as per their convenience.
Besides, you can also opt for a collaboration tool that makes it easier for team members to collaborate closely. For instance, the Screenhero feature of Slack allows two users to see the same screen at the same time. Using such tools is one of the easiest ways to overcome the key challenges of software testing.
6. Synchronizing Releases
Software testers are responsible for the final release of an application, as they ensure that the application is ready to launch after testing all the components. Also, they need to give continuous updates about the release to the stakeholders as well as other team members involved in the project. But, with remote testing, it becomes a little complicated to give continuous updates about the product release.
Thus, to avoid any bottlenecks in the release cycle, testers should test early, test often, and share the status with others as soon as possible. This way, you can prepare yourself for future releases in advance. Moreover, you can go with the QAOps principle of integrating and testing in parallel for the continuous delivery of products.
Using agile methodologies, you will be able to execute tests early by setting smaller targets. It will also help you analyze the ability and speed of testers at which they accomplish their tasks.
7. Improper Documentation
Even after working remotely for a while, many remote testing teams still believe in communicating verbally rather than keeping documentation about how the product was developed. This, in turn, can delay the release of the product.
In order to release your product at the given timeline, it is recommended to use a checklist and follow along. You can create a checklist of all the tasks that need to be carried out by each member while keeping every team member in the loop with full visibility and transparency. So, when there is an issue with any task, you can update the checklist and inform everyone about it.
Also, if you’re reporting a bug or issue, then specify it clearly, like where it happened and how it happened, to your team. You can also take screenshots to explain the problem in detail. Cross browser testing tools like LambdaTest allow you to take screenshots while you test web pages and applications. A special feature called Automated Screenshot Testing lets you do that for over 2000+ browsers and operating systems.
While moderating a remote testing session, testers have to keep their eyes on multiple things like communicating with the user, onscreen behavior, observing questions and queries via IM, total time remaining in the session, the status of executing the task, and much more. Keeping up with all these activities at a single time can be very confusing for any individual.
Therefore, it is good to have a task management tool in hand that allows you to schedule your tasks and execute them accordingly. By doing so, you will be not only able to moderate remote sessions, but also perform other functions that are crucial for the testing. We further recommend focusing on one task at a time to overcome the most common challenges of working remotely.
9. Lack Of Positive Feedback
Let us consider a scenario- When you spend a lot of time performing a test and later found out that it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Or you’re working from a remote location with a distributed team, and there is no one to give suggestions on your ideas. Has it ever happened to you?
If yes, then you might understand the importance of feedback. However, not every feedback is provided positively. Let’s say you have developed documentation for testing a specific feature, and your team leader says it looks good.
Later, you realize that the documentation was never published and neither put to any use, which makes you wonder what went wrong. So, you can see that the ‘good’ feedback was actually a no-feedback.
To get positive feedback on your ideas, you can create a community where everyone can speak of what’s in their mind and how they can implement it effectively. If you think this is not one of the key challenges of software testing, remember what Zig Ziglar said- “ People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing-that’s why we recommend it daily. “
10. Security & Privacy
Security and privacy are two major concerns of every remote testing team, as the product is in the testing stage and yet to be released to the market. While working remotely, testers need to communicate with their colleagues and stakeholders on a daily basis to give status updates. Also, it is crucial to keep everything confidential before the product release. But, there are always risks involved in losing the internal information to outsiders.
To avoid loopholes while sharing information with team members, it is recommended to use a cloud-based platform that offers password-protected sharing so that no outside user can access the information that you share with your co-workers.
Remote working has become a daily activity for most businesses, especially after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has made it hard for remote testers to execute testing tasks, as they face many challenges of working remotely. However, most of these challenges can be resolved by using a cloud-based automated testing platform like LambdaTest or by following the tips below.
Tips To Overcome Remote Testing Challenges
In the above section, we saw how tough it can be to manage remote testing while overcoming the key challenges of software testing. Depending on your team, product, and project requirements, the challenges of working remotely can vary greatly. The best way to ease your remote testing processes is to use automation. It allows you to ease up the pressure on the testing team while making it easier for them to find bugs. Automation can be used in multiple ways including Selenium test automation and much more-
If you choose the manual approaches, then you already know how much time it would take to execute regression testing. However, if you use automation, it can be done in the minimum time possible while improving the testing team’s productivity and providing quick feedback on the changes.
Another advantage of using automation for regression testing is that the QA team can continue working on other tasks while keeping the test automation running in the background. With an automated regression testing strategy, the QA team doesn’t need to be available at ad-hoc times for testing the changes made by developers.
Upgrade to Agile Methodologies
Using agile methodologies is one of the best ways to test remotely; it enables you to test your website at every stage of development with minimum human intervention. Also, having a CI/CD pipeline in the process ensures that the code changes are tested immediately whenever they are integrated into the application interface.
Continuous testing/integration can be executed at different stages of environments like Development, QA, Staging, and Production.
Use Test-Driven Development Approach
The test-driven development approach involves creating test scripts even before developing the feature, which means testers automate the test scripts for components that need to be developed and then integrate it into the system.
However, in test-driven development, the test might fail again and again if it doesn’t meet the expected behavior of the feature. It will only pass if it starts meeting the predicted behavior of the feature. Also, with test-driven development in place, testers and developers need to work hand-in-hand for better flexibility and productivity.
Implement In-Sprint Test Automation
Companies that are using Scrum in their software testing processes need to implement in-sprint test automation for quick results. In-sprint automation not only helps in keeping up with the regression testing, but it also enables testers and developers to focus on other essential tasks. With in-sprint automation, you can also get better results from continuous testing and integration.
Use An Automated Testing Tool
If you haven’t started using automation for remote testing yet, then this is the best time to look for an automation testing tool. For starters, you can begin with the open-source Selenium suite, which gives you access to four different tools for automation testing, including Selenium Grid, WebDriver, IDE, and RC.
However, Selenium is a tricky tool to be used by beginners; only experts having experience in automation testing can use Selenium to its maximum potential. Also, if you’re looking for a tool that is ideal for an entire testing team, then LambdaTest is your best bet.
LambdaTest enables you to test your web app for multiple scenarios like responsive testing, regression testing, cross browser compatibility testing, and more. Moreover, it allows you to share testing sessions with your team members via screenshots or video recording.
Working remotely is not a new trend; many companies have been following it already for a long time. But, it was never implemented to an entire workforce. Before the pandemic, development and testing teams were always working from offices even if other team members were working remotely. However, the pandemic has changed the whole situation; companies are now forced to give all their employees work from home. This has become a little challenging for remote testing teams and that is what we have tried to highlight in this blog. In case we have missed out on the challenges of working remotely, let us know what the key challenges of software testing are and how you overcome them.