Gap Testing | What it is & How Do You Do a Gap Analysis?

January 22, 2024Shreya Bose
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To level up, be it at the individual or organizational level, one must know what is holding them back. This is the purpose of a gap analysis. 

By measuring actual results against desirable benchmarks, gap analysis or gap testing helps identify unproductive or lacking strategies, skills, technologies, or workflows. The results of a gap analysis show what a team or company must do to reach optimal performance levels. 

This article is your stepping stone to understanding and implementing gap analysis or gap testing in your professional environment. 

What Is Gap Testing?

Gap Testing is a process of evaluating the “gap” between two system states. The first is the actual current state, while the second is the projected future system that is best for the team’s and company’s health. 

In the context of this article, we’ll be using a QA system as a reference. Gap analysis, in this case, checks if the current software testing process is at optimal levels, including the tech stack and release pipelines. 

Why Perform Gap Testing?

To reach the optimal performance levels, a system (be it a team or tech stack) needs to understand the “gap” between the optimal and the existing states. A common example in the context of QA would be that your team identifies 18 bugs when you expected 10. 

Read More: What Are the Ultimate Goals of Software Testing?

In this case, gap analysis would help reveal the issues or inadequates that led to such an unexpectedly high bug count. Is a feature missing? Is there some anomalous code in the mix? 

By understanding why such gaps exist, teams can close them. Data from analyses can also be used to improve individual or team productivity, and can also be used to determine competency and performance levels. 

When to Perform a Gap Test

It’s important to be strategic with the timing of a gap test, otherwise you won’t get the most out of it. Ideally, gap analysis should be performed before strategizing on a new endeavor (campaign, financial year, long-form budgets, corporate restructuring, etc.) or if a certain team or product is close to running losses. 

Before new strategies are initiated, a gap test helps to uncover any limitations that can impact the strategy’s effectiveness. It can also identify key areas where the strategy is likely to offer maximum returns. 

In case there are issues of underperformance, the use of gap analysis is obvious. It will identify the extent and causes of a unit’s unsatisfactory operations. 

Other common timings include: 

  • When managing projects: Gap analysis on major projects as they progress is a best practice, because it will keep you apprised of what said project needs to succeed. For example, gap analysis can ensure that the project will have all the resources it needs to get to the finish line beforehand.
  • While pitching to clients: This might seem counterintuitive, but if a company understands its shortcomings to potential clients or investors, it can formulate internal plans to bypass those limitations. Not only does the company maintain its usefulness, it also projects transparency and strategic thinking. 

Gap Analysis Examples

New Product Launch

An e-commerce brand launches an app for improved user experience and wider reach. In this case, gap analysis is performed to identify current best practices for app development, competitor strategies, user preferences, and more. This information is collected before the app goes into development so that it can incorporate these practices into its performance and visuals. 

Additionally, the gap analysis will also find any missing features in the finished app, so that it doesn’t lose out to competitors on release. 

New Budget Release

A new budget must be crafted, with special emphasis on eliminating redundant expenses. A gap analysis dives into the current avenues for expenditures and locates spending that doesn’t directly add to the company’s bottom line or credibility. 

The analysis will also evaluate current practices and how close they are to desired outcomes. Data from this test will also inform decisions about redirecting resources to more productive departments or better-performing products. 

New Tool Purchase

Let’s say, a QA team is considering the purchase of a new test automation tool. Here, a gap analysis is required to determine:

  • How much the lack of automation is holding back team productivity
  • How much initial expenditure can be justified to start with a new tool
  • How much ROI the tool is likely to generate, if introduced to the current QA setup

Benefits of Gap Analysis

Higher profitability: All gap analysis provides data that can be used to optimize systems and people. When you know where your efficiency levels are lacking, you know what to address with strategy and capital. 

Improved processes: Improperly designed processes pose huge stopgaps in performance and efficiency. Once again, gap analysis provides opportunities for optimization and improvement. 

Streamlined manufacturing funnels: By plugging the gaps in manufacturing processes, organizations, departments or teams can implement better production mechanisms, more efficient logistics, better sourcing, and so on.  

More efficient operations: Gridlocks in operations are incredibly hard to resolve if one doesn’t have comprehensive data. Gap analysis provides that data, leading to improvement in day-to-day workflows. 

Improved protection against risks: Timely gap analysis can help to predict market shifts, and insure against them. Meet potential shortfalls with accurate plans and shield against problems before they show up. 

How to Perform a Gap Test

Analyze your current state

To do better, a team needs to know what they aren’t doing well at the moment. In other words, they need to comprehensively understand the current state of the system under analysis. 

For example, a QA team wants to reach the final goal of software release at 3X the current speed, which is also the industry-best standard. However, every project seems to return too many bugs, which is why the pipeline slows down to 3x less speed. 

So, what is the real problem? Is the software being coded badly? Do the developers need some upskilling, better tools, or streamlined workflows? Answering such questions will require the gap testers to talk to teams, gather data, and scrutinize KPIs with a fine-tooth comb. 

Read More: Types of Testing – What are Different Software Testing Types?

If you’re worried about employee dissatisfaction as a factor of the delay in release, consider gathering quantitative information, like the NPS score or how often employees take leave. 

At this stage, focus on understanding the problem, and seeing all the contributing factors that keep it alive within the system. The aim, at this juncture, is to look at everything and see the “big picture”.   

Identify the ideal future state

Once you know where the system is at, it’s time to properly quantify the state at which it should be. This is where stakeholders and gap testers come together to establish the goal and explain to the testers what “gaps” they should be attempting to neutralize. 

The goal of gap analysis is to come up with specific, measurable steps to yield long-term results. So, if the QA team wants to increase releases to 3x speed, that is the ideal future state. The goal must be quantified in specific numbers; no vague aims such as “becoming the fastest QA team in the market.”

The easiest way to set a desired outcome is to look at the industry standard. If, for example, a QA team has not reached the absolute highest release speed in the industry, then their goal is obvious. 

Be aware that the “ideal future state” is the combination of different “ideals”. A QA team member’s “ideal” will differ from the Head of Engineering’s “ideal”. Closely define the strategic focus areas, and create goals that meet the needs, requirements and vision of stakeholders at every relevant level.        

Find the gap and evaluate solutions

This step is about bridging the gap between the current and ideal system state. Start with identifying the most critical, egregious gap areas. For example, perhaps the QA team realizes that they need more sophisticated automation tools to accelerate the release cycle. 

Identify the deficiencies, and target them with precise solutions. Often, the team will have to implement simultaneous solutions to address multiple process-blocking weaknesses. 

A few solutions commonly deployed to bridge the gaps:

  • Re-evaluate the productivity and efficiency of every team member, and decide who needs upskilling, support, and perhaps (as a last resort) termination.
  • Tighten process protocols and retrain employees with new tools and best practices.

Read More: Automated web testing that scales reliably

  • Invest in hiring more skilled specialists.
  • Re-examine your KPIs. Some of them might not prioritize your end goals, and must be reframed to do so.      

Create and implement a plan to bridge the gap

Out of the solutions mentioned above, craft an actual, implementable plan targeted at fixing things. The team doing the planning should decide which issue should be addressed first, whether because it is the most essential gap or because it is the easiest to tackle. 

Create detailed summaries for management and team members, so everyone knows what needs to be done. The summaries must include actionable steps, recommend investments, and outline the impact on the teams and/or departments in question. 

Be aware that the analysts might have to put in some work to convince management, especially if you’re recommending increased investment. Therefore, ensure that the summary and plan include intelligently estimated timelines and task allocations. Make the action plan as comprehensive as possible, and try to incorporate newer innovation in organizational change management to get your team ahead of the curve. 

For example, when presenting to management or executives, have a timeline or schedule for rolling out the planned changes. You could also create a more comprehensive action plan that assigns specific tasks to teams or individuals.

How Gap Analysis Addresses Testing Shortcomings    

Say No to Missing Changes for Testing

Gap analysis looks at code changes, even when they are tricky and hard to find. It’s possible that the developer committed some code already without realizing what changes need to be made. Gap analysis, especially QA gap analysis, helps the devs see what best practices they might be missing in the current pipelines at all phases of software testing

Gap analysis usually introduces detailed documentation of every step of every process, if it does not already exist in the current system. This helps reduce the chances devs or QAs would otherwise miss.      

Generate Enhanced Test Reports

Gap analysis generates details and enhanced test reports to get a truly granular look at team management, coding practices, and bug identification rates.  All code changes will be documented and studied, so the team gets the closest, most layered look at the practices they can ever expect to have. 

This allows teams to come up with ideas themselves, on how to work faster and smarter. They can even offer remedies and resolutions to the analysts since more information would only serve to improve their day-to-day expertise.       

Identify Errors Prior to Delivery

Gap analysis brings to light the issues that hold back smooth, high-quality software delivery. As the kinks in the system are revealed, QAs can develop workarounds to solve them and discover most or all errors before the software hits the prod stage. 

Common changes in this regard are too many changes in source code, regression errors, and inefficient collaboration between team members.    

Avoid Hotfixes After Release

In alignment with the previous point, QA gap analysis serves to reduce the number of hotfixes post-production. Hotfixes target bugs discovered when the app is being publicly used. However, since gap analysis requires QAs and devs to communicate closely, the source of such bugs is more likely to be found. The lower the number of bugs, the lower the hotfixes. 

Challenges of Gap Analysis

  • Requires quite a lot of persistence and expertise on the part of the gap analysts. Usually, teams and companies have to hire external consultants, which can be expensive.
  • If the analysis does not go deep enough into existing systems, it will not find the root causes. This depends on the skill, foresight, and industry experience of the analysts.
  • Since markets are shifting constantly, gap analysis might have to be implemented regularly, which is a drain on teams’ time and effort. It can also pause actual development processes, which increases time to market. 

Gap Analysis Best Practices

  • Start with performing gap analysis on the most business-critical and technically delicate processes, products, and pipelines. Since gap tests are effort-intensive and expensive, they should be implemented in areas that can potentially trigger higher revenue generation.
  • Set SMART goals – goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound (SMART).
  • When suggesting recommendations after conducting a gap analysis, make sure to back them up with supporting data. Stakeholders won’t just take your word for it. They expect to see charts and representations of data that substantiate whatever recommendations are being placed before them.
  • Recommendations and solutions, based on gap analysis, should be realistic. Take into consideration the cost, resources and real-world consequences of implementing a recommendation. If a solution isn’t feasible, no company will adopt it.
  • Work together with experts, i.e., the people actually working on a development/testing pipeline, to apply solutions to inefficient processes and funnels. 

How AI Impacts the Future of Gap Analysis

This section deserves its own article, and we’ll write one soon. But, for the scope of this article, let’s leave it at this: AI can automate the entire gap analysis process by recognizing core issues and analyzing multiple solutions to the same. AI-based gap analysis can:

  • Analyze large volumes of data to identify patterns, anomalies, and optimization opportunities.
  • Automatically detect errors and issues within test data and test cases.
  • Eliminate the consequences of human oversight and biases.
  • Identify error patterns and recurring anomalies.
  • Initiate root cause analysis to trace every business and technical gaps back to its source.
  • Craft comprehensive action plans to target and resolve the identified gaps, based on real-time, data-driven insights. 


Gap analysis or gap testing, though time, resource, and effort-intensive, is very much worth the investment. Since no organization, team, or department can truly improve without knowing what holds them back, gap analysis is essential for success. 

Use the information in this article to start brainstorming on whether you need gap analysis (unless you are the market leader, you do), to start researching 3rd party expert analysts, and to start crafting proposals and reports for budgetary approvals and management support. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a gap analysis and a SWOT analysis?

Gap analysis is the larger process of examining and identifying business and technical gaps in an organization, team, or workflow. It takes many forms, depending on the industry, company structure, goals, and infrastructural availability. 

SWOT is a specific tool or approach, using which gap analysis can be performed. It is a framework to facilitate and implement gap analysis on specific processes or squads. 

What are the three 3 fundamental components of a gap analysis?

When conducting gap analysis, the three fundamental concepts to prioritize:

  • The system’s current state
  • The system’s future, and ideal state
  • The gap between the two – factors and remedies to bridge this gap
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