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Why we need Entry and Exit Criteria in Software Testing

In any growing customer account, the number of projects keeps increasing and thereby increases the effort and backlog for testing. The expectation is to continue the QA benchmarks across all development sprints. To address such an increase in testing load without increasing the number of testers in the project, it is important to take certain steps. One such step that has helped us in our projects is fixing the entry and exit criteria in QA testing. This not only disciplines the software testing life cycle (STLC) but also streamlines the testing spillovers on sprints. Here is how it worked for us.

Sprint spillovers and delays

The challenges that the QA team were facing included high defect counts, incomplete list of prerequisites, continuous bug-fixes leading to spillovers to the next sprint cycle. The purpose of testing is not to make the software code 100% bug-free only, but also ensure the code meets the business objectives. We realized that the software testing process, if not bound by any provision or criteria, can be risky for quality software development and result in negative consequences such as poor quality and delays on timelines. In our efforts to discipline the QA process, as we had multiple projects running simultaneously, fixing entry and exit criteria in STLC was done.

What is entry criteria in software testing

Entry criteria are the condition or the set of conditions, which should be achieved before the testing process. It consists of factors that are specified during the planning phase that are executed to mark the beginning of the software testing activities. Some of the points considered as entry criteria are:

  • Requirements are defined and approved
  • Availability of enough and desired test data
  • Test cases are developed and ready
  • Test environment has been set-up and all other necessary resources such as tools and devices are available
  • Complete understanding of the application or feature flow is required
  • Executing the primary functional/business flows successfully by leveraging various test inputs and ensuring that they are working fine.

What is exit criteria in software testing

Exit criteria are the condition or set of conditions that decide the completion or termination of the testing task as well as the accomplishment of the targets and goals. It is also defined and outlined during the test planning phase. Some of the conditions defined for exit criteria are:

  • Test case coverage: All test cases have been executed
  • Sufficient & planned coverage of the requirements & functionalities of application under test is achieved.
  • All the identified defects are resolved. No high priority or severity or critical bug has been left out.
  • Functional, regression testing has been taken up and completed.

Business impact

Adhering the above-defined entry and exit criteria ensured the efficient and effective execution of the QA activities to meet the desired targets and goals of the quality process without compromising on the timelines. Visible impacts are:

  • Negligible production defects – at present defect logged under UAT, Production is less than 3%.
  • Effective root cause analysis
  • Continuous deliverables with quality– the introduction of unit test case reviews brought down the defect count in the last 3 months
  • Time-bound deliverables
  • Coverage has been thorough and complete
  • Release management has been easier – QA and Production deployments failures have been reduced to minimal in recent times