Testing E-Commerce Systems
By: Wing Lam
Testing E-Commerce Systems: A Practical Guide
As e-customers (whether business or consumer), we are unlikely to have confidence in a Web site that suffers frequent downtime, hangs in the middle of a transaction, or has a poor sense of usability. Testing, therefore, has a crucial role in the overall development process. Given unlimited time and resources, you could test a system to exhaustion. However, most projects operate within fixed budgets and time scales, so project managers need a systematic and cost-effective approach to testing that maximizes test confidence.
This article provides a quick and practical introduction to testing medium- to large-scale transactional e-commerce systems based on project experiences developing tailored solutions for B2C Web retailing and B2B procurement. Typical of most e-commerce systems, the application architecture includes front-end content delivery and management systems, and back-end transaction processing and legacy integration.
Aimed primarily at project and test managers, this article explains how to
establish a systematic test process, and
test e-commerce systems.
The Test Process
You would normally expect to spend between 25 to 40 percent of total project effort on testing and validation activities. Most seasoned project managers would agree that test planning needs to be carried out early in the project lifecycle. This will ensure the time needed for test preparation (establishing a test environment, finding test personnel, writing test scripts, and so on) before any testing can actually start.
The different kinds of testing (unit, system, functional, black-box, and others) are well documented in the literature. However, less well articulated (despite the good general texts in software engineering) is the test process that ties together all testing and validation activities used to deliver a quality solution to the client. Table 1 presents a matrix model of the test process that my colleagues and I have come to adopt on several e-commerce projects. Several goals (listed in the table’s first column) guide this model; one or more processes support the achievement of each goal.
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