SaaS Testing: Challenges, Tools and Testing Approach

Overview of SaaS Testing:

To begin implementing any form of testing methods, whether it is traditional or new methods, we need to know every detail of that particular testing method.

This is required as proper knowledge and understanding because it not only helps in implementing the testing method for our application in a better way, but it also allows us to get the most out of that testing tool.

You may have heard about “SaaS testing”. Well, SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) are the 3 categorized models of Cloud Computing.

Saas Testing

In this article, we will answer a few basic questions which will help you understand the SaaS form of testing and also cover its process, implementation, challenges, and much more such aspects.

So, let’s get started with a very basic and initial question:

What is SaaS?

Termed as Software as a Service and easily available to customers over an Internet, SaaS helps organizations to bypass the needs of running and installing applications on respective computers and in turn, reduces the expenses of hardware acquisition, installation, maintenance, and support cost.

Software as a Service

What is SaaS Testing?

With the advancement of the Cloud Computing concept in industries and research communities, SaaS platforms also acquired a remarkable place by providing diverse services on clouds. After the completion of the development process of the application, SaaS application testing comes into play where the whole duration of the testing cycle is decided on the basis of the type of software opted for service.

Moreover, to say it in a definition format, SaaS platform testing is defined as the method of assuring the quality of the software by undergoing different validation activities.

These involve testing performance, security, data integration, scalability, reliability, etc. Cisco Web Ex, Google Apps, among others, are a few well-known examples of SaaS applications which are easily accessible on the internet and do not require any installation.

In this competitive world, enterprises are continuously moving towards cloud computing and software delivery with SaaS models. The benefits it provides like ‘on demand service’ and ‘pay per use’ are the major reasons behind it.

Listed below are more reasons behind opting for SaaS app testing:

  1. Improved reliability, scalability, and availability
  2. Reduction in the cost of software deployment and maintenance
  3. Easy fault recovery
  4. Quick deployment of the software with higher accessibility
  5. Pay per use
  6. Continuous upgrade testing in the case of addition of new tenants
  7. Internal system dependencies are reduced to many levels
  8. Flexibility in resource scaling and pricing
  9. SaaS applications update and upgrade (new releases) easily and become available to the customers.

From the above discussion, it can be easily understood that SaaS application Testing is basically the validation of SaaS applications with respect to various components including security, compatibility, and performance. SaaS testing is considered to provide the fastest and more effective products, but it requires a lot of quality assurance at multiple steps.

SaaS vs Traditional testing:

Although SaaS application testing has a few similarities in its approach to traditional testing, SaaS is considered harder than traditional testing.

Let’s see some factors to justify this statement:

  • Products are delivered at a very faster rate, thus ‘Quality Assurance’ becomes a factor of concern
  • It requires an ample business and domain knowledge to deal with configurable and not- configurable components of SaaS applications
  • SaaS application testers undergo comprehensive testing in order to enable users to utilize all the benefits of such applications
  • The test environment should support automatic deployment, execution as well as validation of the application
  • SaaS testing also has advantages over traditional testing like:
    • Cost of maintenance and up-gradation of application is lower
    • Less risk is involved, thus there is more focus on the adoption of new innovative ideas
    • Pay per use
    • Easily accessed over the internet directly without any software installation.

Steps for SaaS Implementation and Best Practices

Now, that we understand the basics of SaaS, let’s move further and understand its Development Lifecycle. Before that, you need to know some important parameters that need to be considered.  These are steps that are required for implementing SaaS.

The list below will help you get a better idea:

  1. There should be a clear idea about the reason for opting SaaS implementation by a business
  2. A Clear understanding of the business is a requirement, as is identifying the goals at an early stage to help achieve better results
  3. Plan steps and procedures in advance in order to satisfy the business requirement and the reasons for implementing SaaS
  4. The team involved in this implementation should have developers with in-depth knowledge of the SaaS concept along with a better understanding of the industry best practices. In order to get the best result, the team member should have expertise in multiple technologies
  5. The team should also have an IT professional in order to avoid situations of little support and documentation at the time of delivering software services
  6. The terms of the Service Level Agreement should be clearly understood before signing any contract
  7. While the infrastructure is built, keep a few major parameters in mind like scalability, security, network bandwidth, backup, and recovery, etc.
  8. Planning for disaster recovery should be done to ensure that it does not become the reason for the discontinuation of the application
  9. A suitable customer support call center should be established to deal with queries after the delivery of the software services.

Along with above points, there are few more factors like payment criteria, trained employees, exit categories, documentation, and more that should be considered before implementing SaaS.

Understanding the steps involved in SaaS development life cycle in brief:

SaaS Development Lifecycle

In most cases, Agile development methodology is used, but it also depends on the particular requirement of the project. As it is displayed in the figure, six phases are involved in the SaaS development life cycle.

Listed below are the phases with a brief introduction:


  1. Envisioning Phase business needs and opportunities are identified here as a result of various market research.
  2. Platform Evaluation Phase ensures proper examination as well as successful implementation of planned features like performance, security, scalability, disaster recovery, etc.
  3. Planning Phase includes formalization of all the information gathered like, a project plan, specifications, staff, etc. into the technical specification, which is required by the developers.
  4. Subscribing Phase important decisions, including architecture, pricing, and disaster recovery strategy, are finalized to ensure high availability of the service.
  5. Developing Phase as the name suggests, the development environment is set up, including various forms of testing. SaaS applications are expected to always work under heavy loads, thus SaaS load and performance testing play an important role.
  6. Operations Phase services are deployed in this phase. However, frequent updates and security checks are required of the application in order to enhance user experience and reduce support issues.

 The above explanation gave you the brief idea behind the SaaS development lifecycle. However, different projects chose different methodologies and can have variations in their lifecycle.

Understanding the Focus of SaaS Testing Methodology 

SaaS testing always takes the center stage and uses methods that ensure the application built on this model is working as expected.

Applications, Infrastructure, and Network are considered the core components of SaaS testing. There are multiple key areas on which SaaS testing focuses on.

Listed below are some of them:

  • White box and Black box testing as a part of Component testing
  • Functional testing to rigorously check whether the application is working as per the requirements
  • Integration testing is performed to check the integration of the SaaS system with others
  • Perform exploratory testing on new test cases
  • Test the network security, security threats, integrity and accessibility as a part of infrastructure and security testing
  • Ensure the quality of the SaaS connectivity as well as testing the user interface with respect to portability and compatibility
  • Any up gradation, release and data migration in an application requires proper Regression testing
  • Reliability testing is performed to reduce the risk of failure at real time deployment
  • Every possible test is performed to ensure the security of the network
  • Because SaaS applications are expected to have a heavy load, performance and scalability testing are required to verify the behavior of the application at peak loads, in multiple environments
  • Compatibility of the application when accessed on different browsers by different people, needs to be tested
  • Whenever new features are added or old features are updated, continuous upgrade testing is required for SaaS applications
  • API testing is performed to ensure functionality, security, completeness, and performance of documentation
  • Customer queries, payment, and billing are taken care of as a part of Operational testing.

With better applications come harder challenges. Because the Saas system is accessed directly by the customer over the internet, security concerns are the major reason for worry. Despite this concern, many businesses are adopting the SaaS application because of its benefits.

SaaS Application Testing Challenges

Although the challenges may differ a bit depending on the type of project, let’s see some common challenges that are experienced while SaaS application testing:

  1. Frequent upgrades and releases in a very short time period provide lesser time to check the validity and security of the applications
  2. Sometimes back-end components that are associated with the user interface of the application are left to be validated
  3. With different user behaviors at the same time, it becomes a very difficult task to take care of privacy and ensure no exchange of customer data
  4. We have discussed why performance testing is required for the SaaS application, but the major concern and challenge in this regard is to identify the most accessed areas and to test them with a large number of users from different locations
  5. At the time of integration and migration of the SaaS applications, it becomes very difficult to maintain the privacy and integrity of the test data
  6. Whenever a new release is made, SaaS testers need to test all the licensing factors including usage, the number of users and functionality of the application
  7. No standardization of the application.

To overcome these challenges, the following steps can be adopted. Although these programs may differ depending on the requirements of the project, let’s have a look at few of them:

  • Automate scripts to tackle frequent update challenges
  • Based on the observation, determine the areas of the application that are accessed more often. This will help in better performance testing when there is a restriction in the time limit
  • For data security of the SaaS application, strong encryption is recommended at the time of integration.

SaaS applications are gaining popularity day-by-day and SaaS testing is known for delivering high standard applications.

SaaS Platform Testing Best Practices

After understanding the challenges, let’s take a look at the best practices of testing a SaaS-based Application:

  1. Enhance SaaS testing efforts by observing various organizational patterns
  2. Use a powerful hardware application to recognize the performance of the application with additional resources
  3. Make sure to have full access to the testing requirements needed for SaaS applications
  4. Time to time, test the performance of the application by increasing the workload by adding concurrent users from multiple environments
  5. It is advisable to prepare a test plan in advance after getting the testing requirements specification
  6. Check on the security concerns often, especially at the time of integration and migration.

As compared to traditional methods, SaaS models get less time span to perform and complete testing methodologies. Thus many of the testing elements get eliminated as compared to traditional methodologies. The best way to incorporate this is to adopt agile methods as well as utilize as much as possible the automation testing tools.

SaaS Testing Tools

Apart from the basic elements of testing like functional, performance and unit testing, SaaS testing methods also include some consideration related to the security of the application.

Let’s get an idea of SaaS testing tools in brief:

#1) PractiTest

This testing tool is designed to provide an end to end test solutions as well as allow users to control their development and testing processes. The main features of this testing tool are enlisted below:

  • Ensures communication with organizations at various levels
  • Provides ways to manage their respective project, its testing processes, and information
  • Offers status of project at all times
  • Manages relevant communication to other stakeholders.

#2) qTest

This is a cloud-based test management tool, used by organizations for easy communication and scalable test management solutions. The main features of this testing tool are as follows:

  • It is easy to learn and help teams at various locations with coordination
  • It has the ability to add the note, notations and a create detailed defect sheet
  • Free trail is available with an easy sharing option
  • This tool allows you to have proper planning as wells as management of a project schedule, test case documentation, defect sheets, test cases, and test results
  • This tool has a proper dashboard to display project progress, queries and useful reports.

#3) QMetry

This tool acts as an interface and links project requirements to its test cases and to defects. This helps in an end to end coverage of project progress as well as traceability.

Some of its features are as follows:

  • In the case where requirements change from time to time, this tool provides much flexibility to use older test cases
  • Results and status of the test cases can be recorded at the time of test case execution
  • The execution page is available to edit the test cases in real time if required
  • It also manages defects with a link. All the previous logged issues to particular test cases can be easily found. This helps to avoid the repetition of duplicate defect logging.

This is only a brief idea of each tool. There are more features of each one, which will become clearer when you learn each tool.

Conclusion

This article has covered almost every aspect you need to know about SaaS testing. With the advancement in cloud testing, people have learned various aspects of this testing and its challenges too.

About the author: This is a guest post by Sushma S. She is working as a Senior Software Test Engineer in an MNC.

Please share your comments or questions with us.




Recommended reading

3 comments ↓

#1 Madiha

very informative ,concise & accurate atricle :)

#2 Azam

Very informative Article.

#3 Devraj

Great article on the insights of SaaS Testing!

Leave a Comment