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The Holiday Season Is Here – Is Your Software Ready?

ByDave Stopher

Nov 18, 2019 #technology

If you own or operate a business, software is critical for attracting, serving, and retaining customers. Your CRM system helps you keep track of key relationships and initiatives. Your online store enables customers to find and buy the items they want. And your ERP system allows you to efficiently manage internal projects. All this software must be working at full capacity at all times but especially around the holidays, which, for many companies, is a peak purchasing season.

The holiday shopping season is also a time when cyber criminals up their game, taking advantage of companies’ focus on managing temporary staffers and meeting increased customer demand. The last couple of holiday seasons have seen steep increases in the number of cybercrimes.

When any of this software isn’t functioning well, you run the risk of alienating customers, losing revenue, tarnishing your reputation, and paying more than necessary for inefficiently managed initiatives. That’s why, if you haven’t already, you should have your software tested. If your IT staff can handle quality assurance (QA) testing, great. If not, consider enlisting software QA outsourcing services to help.

The Importance of Testing

No matter what industry you’re in, you have the choice of using off-the-shelf or customized software. Off-the-shelf options are perfectly good for many uses and are often the most cost-effective choice. They can be used as-is or adjusted for your company’s needs. However, because these products are well-known to hackers, they may also be the most vulnerable to attacks.

That’s why many companies invest in custom software. Though it may be more expensive upfront, it can be built to accommodate business growth, eliminating the need to regularly purchase new software. In addition — because it’s created specifically for a certain operation — customer care, project management, and promotional efforts all run more smoothly, leading to higher revenues to offset the cost.

Testing is typically part of custom software development, but it may still be required to ensure ongoing integrity. Whether you have off-the-shelf or custom software, testing should focus on the most critical aspects of the application, including efficient operation (all elements do what they’re designed to do), security, and usability.

Checklist for Software Health

Whether your software QA testers are in-house or outsourced, ask them to check the following aspects of your software to ensure it’s performing as it should.

Security. Clearly, security is a huge concern, whether for your internal software or for your customer-facing website and other online tools. Cyberattacks can disrupt your business in numerous and far-reaching ways, not the least of which is causing customers to lose trust in you. Security testing might take the following forms:

  • Testing to scan for known vulnerabilities
  • Penetration testing to simulate a hacking attempt, further identifying vulnerabilities
  • Security auditing to inspect the application’s code for security flaws

Usability. If employees get frustrated with the usability of a software application, they may not use it as much as they should, negatively affecting productivity. If the same happens with customers, they may leave your website or other online resource and never come back. Usability testing can reveal these types of problems, which could be impacting your business more than you think. Specific usability checks might involve testing for:

  • Consistent design (e.g. each button looks the same)
  • Lack of errors in spelling and formatting
  • The ability of users to easily perform the task they intended to do

Functionality. If your employees or your customers can’t use your software, then what good is it? It could be that employees have been implementing a work-around for years and you didn’t even know it. QA testers can partner with users to examine their habits and ensure they’re able to use the software to its fullest potential. Specific functionality tests might include the following:

  • Verifying that error messages are appropriate and consistent
  • Checking to make sure that each function performs as expected
  • Looking at input boxes to ensure each one accepts the appropriate type and amount of content

Compatibility. If your website doesn’t work with other technology, such as operating systems, browsers, or hardware, then it’s not of much use to your employees or customers. The more people who can access your online assets, the more potential business you’ll have. Compatibility testing might include the following specific tests:

  • Running the website on various browsers, such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera
  • Viewing images, videos, and animations on various browsers
  • Using the website on laptops, tablets, and phones from different manufacturers

In Summary

If the holiday season is important to your business, you don’t want anything getting in the way of attracting as many customers and as much revenue as you can. A software breach can be just the thing to throw your busiest season into a tailspin, but ensuring all your applications are in order can prevent that from happening. Take the time before the busy season really heats up to initiate QA testing and ensure all your systems are running the way they should.

 

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