Impact Analysis In Software Testing- A Complete Overview

Impact Analysis In Software Testing- A Complete Overview

What is Impact Analysis?

Impact Analysis is the process of identifying the potential consequences and implications of changes to a software application or system. It helps understand how modifications to one part of the system can affect other parts.

Why is Impact Analysis done?

Impact Analysis is a fundamental process in various industries to understand the consequences of proposed changes or modifications. By studying the possible outcomes of these changes, organizations can make intelligent choices, use resources efficiently, and ensure the successful completion of projects. Let’s delve into the key reasons why Impact Analysis is conducted:

  • To assess the scope and extent of changes required: Impact Analysis enables stakeholders to grasp the full extent of requirements necessary to implement a new feature, resolve a defect, or incorporate any alterations to an existing system. This assessment aids in effective project planning and execution.
  • To recognize possible risks and challenges with the modifications: Through Impact Analysis, teams can proactively identify and address potential risks and challenges linked to the proposed changes. By understanding these risks beforehand, organizations can take necessary precautions and minimize potential disruptions during implementation.
  • To estimate the efforts and resources needed for testing and development: Impact Analysis helps gauge the level of effort and resources required for testing and development activities. This estimation ensures that adequate resources are allocated to various tasks, optimizing the overall efficiency of the project.
  • To prioritize testing efforts based on criticality: Not all changes carry the same level of impact on the system. Impact Analysis allows teams to prioritize their testing efforts based on the criticality of the changes. High-impact changes call for more rigorous testing compared to low-impact changes, which may require less testing efforts, use less money and preserve resources.

How To Conduct An Effective Impact Analysis?

Conducting an effective Impact Analysis is a crucial aspect of the software development and testing process. It allows organizations to understand the implications of changes made to the software so that the testing efforts are focused on critical areas. Let’s explore the key steps involved in conducting Impact Analysis:

  1. Identify Changes: The initial step in Impact Analysis is to accurately identify the changes made to the software. This includes modifying code to add new features. Understanding the changes is important to determine the potential impact on the software.
  1. Create Test Scenarios: Once the changes are identified, the next step is to design test scenarios. Test scenarios are conditions created for the software. These scenarios should be carefully crafted to cover all the affected areas resulting from the changes.
  1. Prioritize Test Scenarios: Not all test scenarios carry the same level of importance. It’s important to rank test scenarios based on how critical they are and the impact they can have on the application. This prioritization helps in focusing testing efforts on the most significant areas first.
  1. Generate Test Cases: With the test scenarios defined and prioritized, the next step is to create detailed test cases for each scenario. Test cases outline the step-by-step procedures to execute the scenarios accurately and effectively. Well-defined test cases are essential for consistency and repeatability in testing.
  1. Execute Test Cases: Once the test cases are ready, testers proceed to execute them. During the testing phase, they verify the impact of changes on the software and observe how it behaves under different conditions. Thorough test execution helps in identifying any defects or issues introduced by the changes.
  1. Analyze Test Results: After executing the test cases, testers analyze the test results to identify any deviations from expected behavior and uncover defects or issues. The analysis provides valuable feedback on the impact of changes and helps in improving the software’s quality.

How Is the Impact Analysis Method Useful To Developers?

Impact Analysis is conducted in several domains, from development to project management, and quality assurance. By carefully looking at how big these changes are, teams can make smart choices and be ready to handle any problems that might come up when putting the changes into action. 

Let’s say you are a developer working on a complex software project. You’ve been asked to add a new feature or fix a bug in the code. Now, before you start making those changes, it’s essential to understand how they might affect other parts of the software. This is where Impact Analysis comes in handy. It’s like a crystal ball that gives you insights into the future of your code changes. By conducting an Impact Analysis, you can anticipate any potential ripple effects your modifications might have on different areas of the program. This helps you plan your work more effectively, avoid unexpected issues, and ensure that your changes don’t unintentionally break something else. It will also help you estimate the time and resources needed to get the task done. In a nutshell, Impact Analysis is your superhero sidekick, guiding you to make informed decisions and ensuring a smoother and safer development process. 

How Is The Impact Analysis Method Useful To Testers?

Imagine you’re a tester in the software development realm, responsible for ensuring the quality of a new feature. Here, the Impact Analysis method becomes your strategic tool, revealing hidden insights. Think of it as a pair of special glasses that allow you to foresee how the changes you’re testing might affect other parts of the software. This way, you can concentrate your testing efforts where they matter most. Impact Analysis acts as a guiding light, enabling you to allocate your resources effectively and ensuring a smoother testing process. It’s a valuable technique that empowers you to address testing challenges confidently and efficiently.

Let’s explore more on how this method is particularly useful to testers:

  • Allows testers to focus on critical areas during testing: Impact Analysis empowers testers to identify the most critical and high-impact areas influenced by changes. This enables them to prioritize their testing efforts and dedicate more attention to areas where the risk of potential issues is higher. By focusing on critical areas, testers can ensure that the most vital functionalities of the system are thoroughly validated, reducing the likelihood of overlooking significant defects.
  • Helps in creating comprehensive test coverage for affected functionalities: Through Impact Analysis, testers gain a clear understanding of which functionalities are impacted by the changes. This knowledge allows them to design comprehensive test scenarios that cover all affected areas. By ensuring thorough test coverage, testers can increase the probability of detecting any issues that may have been introduced by the changes and deliver a more robust product.
  • Reduces regression testing efforts by targeting only impacted areas: One of the key advantages of Impact Analysis for testers is its ability to narrow down the scope of regression testing. Instead of retesting the entire system, testers can focus solely on the areas directly affected by the changes. This targeted approach saves time and effort while still verifying that the changes do not negatively impact other unrelated parts of the system.

How To Prepare an Impact Analysis Document? 

Preparing an Impact Analysis Document is an essential step in software development and change management. It helps to assess the potential impact of proposed changes to a system, module, or functionality before implementing them. It serves as a valuable reference for the development team and stakeholders during the software development lifecycle. Here’s a detailed explanation of how to prepare an Impact Analysis Document using a table format:

  1. Identify Modules/Functionality: List all the modules or functionalities in your software system that are potentially affected by the proposed changes. This could include specific components, APIs, databases and microservices.
  2. Changes Made: In this column, describe the specific changes that are being proposed for each module or functionality. For instance, it might involve fixing a problem, improving a feature, making things run smoother and faster, or enhancing security.
  3. Impacted Areas: Break down the updates you make in the “Changes Made” section and explain how they impact different parts of the software. This includes describing the specific modules or functionalities directly affected by the changes and any other parts that might be indirectly affected.
  4. Risk Assessment: Assess and evaluate the potential risks associated with each change and its impact. When conducting tests, make sure to look for things like possible problems, issues that may affect other parts of the software, changes in performance, security weaknesses, and compatibility challenges. Use a qualitative scale (e.g., low, medium, high) or a numerical score to rank the level of risk.

Hence, to prepare the Impact Analysis document, use the following table format:

Module/Functionality | Changes Made | Impacted Areas | Risk Assessment

Additional Tips:

  1. Gather Stakeholder Inputs: If you are dev, make sure to reach out to your team lead to collaborate with relevant stakeholders, such as developers, testers, product managers, and users, to get their insights on the potential impact of changes.
  2. Document Assumptions: If there are any assumptions made during the analysis, document them to provide context and clarity.
  3. Version Control: Keep a record of your Impact Analysis Document’s different versions to keep track of the changes made over time.
  4. Review and Approval: Share the document with the relevant stakeholders for review and approval before proceeding with the implementation of the proposed changes.
  5. Keep It Updated: As the development progresses and changes are implemented, ensure the Impact Analysis Document is regularly updated to accurately represent the current status of the impacted areas.

Advantages Of Impact Analysis In Testing

Let’s explore the key advantages of conducting Impact Analysis in testing:

  • Early Detection of Potential Defects: Impact Analysis enables testers to identify potential defects at an early stage of the development process. By thoroughly analyzing the impact of changes, testers can pinpoint areas that might be more prone to issues, allowing them to focus their testing efforts on these critical areas and catch defects before they escalate.
  • Optimal Allocation of Testing Resources: With the insights gained from Impact Analysis, testing teams can allocate their resources more effectively. By understanding the scope of changes and their potential impact, testers can prioritize testing efforts on areas that require the most attention, ensuring that testing efforts are optimized and focused on areas of greatest importance.
  • Improved Test Coverage for Critical Areas: Impact Analysis helps in creating comprehensive test scenarios that cover critical areas affected by the changes. By designing targeted and well-defined test cases for these areas, testers can achieve improved test coverage, ensuring that the most vital functionalities are thoroughly validated and reducing the risk of overlooking critical defects.
  • Reduced Regression Testing Efforts: One of the significant advantages of Impact Analysis is its ability to reduce regression testing efforts. By identifying only the impacted areas, testers can limit the scope of regression testing to those specific regions of the software. This focused approach saves time and resources, allowing testers to perform regression tests more efficiently.

How To Include Impact Analysis With Test Automation

What is Test Automation? 

Test automation is like using a smart helper for testing computer programs. Instead of testing things by hand every time, we create special instructions for a computer to follow. This computer buddy checks if everything works well in the software, just like you would, but much faster and without getting tired. This helps us find problems quickly, make sure the software is accurate, and test it over and over again without doing the same steps each time. It’s like having a super-efficient tester that follows the same rules every time, making our work smoother and more reliable.

For instance, consider a scenario where you’re developing a mobile application. As part of the testing process, you want to ensure that various user interactions, such as tapping buttons or filling out forms, perform as expected. Instead of manually carrying out these actions repetitively, test automation enables you to create scripts that mimic these interactions. These scripts can be executed automatically, thoroughly testing the application’s behavior and identifying potential issues or defects. There are several testing frameworks like Selenium and Cypress for automated end-to-end testing. However, with the advancement of AI, no-code platforms are making it even easier to test, without having to write a single line of code.

Incorporating AI, particularly in the domain of Natural Language Processing (NLP), further advances test automation capabilities. For instance, when you write a test, instead of coding and writing exact steps on what to do, you could write something like “Click on the button X” or “Wait till the page loads completely” and even “Check if the text Oranges shows up on the screen” after that button is pressed. Through AI-powered NLP, you can design automated tests to validate all of these tests without having to write complex code.

Test automation tools like Testsigma provide all of these NLP-based automated testing capabilities, along with features to facilitate impact analysis. Testsigma provides comprehensive reports on test coverage, defect tracking, and scheduled testing. With automated test execution and detailed analytics, Testsigma streamlines the impact analysis process and enhances testing efficiency.



How Testsigma can help here?

With Testsigma, you can utilize its reporting and analytics functionalities to get more profound insights into impact analysis. Track test coverage, identify affected areas, and generate detailed reports to aid decision-making during software testing.

Let’s look at a simple example. I have created a shopping cart website that allows you to view your cart and add items to it. https://python-code-nemesis-test-sigma-update.netlify.app/. It also displays the total price for the items in the cart.

shopping cart

We have a few tests for this application on Testsigma, which have been scheduled to run hourly or daily based on importance and requirements. Here is the project dashboard where you can see the reports, the latest failures, and successful test suite runs.

With Testsigma, you can add multiple tests to each Test Suite. Creating tests becomes quite simple when using Testsigma’s NLP-powered ability to understand test instructions. Here’s a simple example for the shopping cart application to add oranges into the add to cart field and ensure oranges got added:

testsigma shopping cart- non updated version

TestSigma also lets you use its “Record Steps” feature alternatively to create tests by interacting with the UI directly. You can add selected test cases to Test Suites and create comprehensive Test Plans to run periodically as required, to ensure that the current code or the code about to be deployed to production is passing all the tests. 

Here is what the Testsigma Dashboard looks like:

testsigma dashboard

Once you create Test Suites and schedule test plans, you will able to see them in the “Test Plan Schedule Section”. Once the tests start running hourly, you will be able to see which of these tests passed and what failed.

test plans

Here is the test report being generated:

test report

Here are some more useful metrics on the dashboard:

dashboard

Now, based on an update of requirements, you don’t want to show the price of the items n this page. The updated site will look like this:

run tests

So once this updated site is hosted on your dev URL: https://python-code-nemesis-test-sigma.netlify.app/, you can run the tests for your dev environment and check what is failing. You can make these fixes before this application goes into prod! In the real world, a tester would create separate test suites for Dev and Production testing. This is what the initial impact analysis document might look like:

Module/FunctionalityChanges MadeImpacted AreasRisk Assessment
Add to CartAdded capability to add orangesCart functionality, item selectionLow – Limited impact on cart system
View CartUpdated to hide item pricesCart display, user interfaceMedium – User experience may change
Pricing DisplayModified pricing display for oranges and added apples and bananasCart display, product visibilityLow – Limited impact on pricing system

With the updated changes in the dev branch, the existing tests associated with the price will fail. The dashboard will show you the failing tests:

failed result

As soon as this update is made, several tests will fail which assert the price. They will have to be updated. Here is where Testsigma’s analytics reports will help you analyze the impact your update will have. You will be able to see what tests are failing on which features and what pages of your web application. In this case, the tests for the “View Cart” section of the shopping cart will fail. Once you fix the tests in your codebase to comply with the latest updates, your failing tests will be working correctly again. This is the dashboard view once the tests are updated:

test plan schedule

Click on “View Report” in the Dashboard to view the test reports:

view report

You can always dig deeper with this information, look at the other metrics, what tests are failing and the period when they fail. You can create more test suites and plans tailored to the updated code. The dashboard and report metrics will give you continued insight into your application’s health.

Summary

In this article, you learned what impact analysis is and why it is important. You also learned how it benefits software developers, testers, and even stakeholders to understand the possible impacts of adding a new feature or modifying the existing application flow. We tested a shopping cart application with Testsigma’s NLP test automation abilities. We added these tests to test suites and scheduled an hourly test plan to run the test suites. Once we made some updates to the application and retested it, we identified the risks and impact by looking at the failing tests and Testsigma’s dashboard. After updating the tests, the test plan started passing again and all was good. Through this exercise, we understood the effects of impact analysis in a real-world scenario.

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