Effective and powerful ways to test like tech giants
Effective and powerful ways to test like tech giants

Teams and organizations looking to get serious about (or to further improve) their software testing efforts can learn something from looking at how the “big boys” organize their testing and quality assurance activities. It stands to reason that companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon would not be as successful as they are without paying proper attention to the quality of the products they’re releasing into the world.

But a look at these software giants reveals that there is no one single recipe for success. Here is how the world’s best-known tech companies organize their Software Testing Services and what you can learn from them.

Google: Searching for best practices

How does the company responsible for the world’s most widely used search engine organize its testing efforts? It depends on the team and the product. The team responsible for the Google search engine itself, for example, maintains a large and rigorous testing framework. Since search is Google’s core business, the team wants to make sure that it keeps delivering the highest possible quality, and that it doesn’t screw it up.

To that end, Google employs a four-stage testing process for changes to the search engine, consisting of:

  1. Testing by dedicated, internal testers (Google employees)
  2. Further testing on a crowdtesting platform 
  3. “Dogfooding,” which involves having Google employees use the product in their daily work 
  4. Beta testing, which involves releasing the product to a small group of Google product end users 

Even though this seems like a solid testing process, ex-Google director James Whittaker explains in this video that there is room for improvement, if only because communication between the different stages and the people responsible for them is suboptimal (leading to things being tested either twice over or not at all).

But the teams responsible for Google products that are further away from the company’s core business employ a much less strict QA process. In some cases, the only testing is done by the developer responsible for a specific product, with no dedicated testers providing a safety net.

In any case, Google takes testing seriously. In fact, testers’ and developers’ salaries are equal, something you don’t see everywhere.

Facebook: Developer-driven testing

Facebook does not employ any dedicated testers at all. Instead, the social media giant relies on its developers to test their own (as well as one another’s) work. While in the past this was mostly done manually, nowadays Facebook employs a wide variety of automated testing solutions. The tools that are used range from PHPUnit for back-end unit testing to Jest (a JavaScript test tool developed internally at Facebook) to Watir for end-to-end testing efforts.

Like Google, Facebook uses dogfooding to make sure its software is usable. Furthermore, it is somewhat notorious for shaming developers who mess things up (breaking a build or causing the site to go down by accident, for example) by posting a picture of the culprit wearing a clown nose on an internal Facebook group.

Facebook recognizes that there are significant flaws in its testing process, but rather than going to great lengths to improve, it simply accepts the flaws, since, as it says, “social media is nonessential.” Also, focusing less on testing means that more resources are available to focus on other, more valuable things.

Rather than testing its software through and through, Facebook tends to use “canary” releases and an incremental rollout strategy to test fixes, updates, and new features in production. For example, a new feature might first be made available only to a small percentage of the total number of users.

By tracking the usage of the feature and the feedback received, the company decides either to increase the rollout or to disable the feature, either improving it or discarding it altogether.

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