Crowdsourced testing, or crowdtesting for short, is a testing methodology that takes advantage of the efficiency and benefits of crowdsourcing. As waterfall, agile, and hybrid development methodologies become more prevalent in the development world, it’s critical to understand both the strengths and weaknesses of these common software testing methodologies, and how the inclusion of crowdtesting can plug any holes that may spring up during the software development life cycle. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how crowdtesting software testing methodologies can better support the traditional agile, waterfall, and hybrid development models, so let’s get started!

Crowdtesting and Agile Development

One of the key tenets of the agile software development methodology is the concept of iteration and incremental evolution of the project throughout the entire software development life cycle. As fresh ideas come to fruition and new systems are developed to bring those ideas to life, often the project will go through varying versions or prototypes, allowing the entire development team, testers, and even clients to experience the project via a hands-on approach.

Not only does this common iterative prototyping practice ensure that projects are of the highest possible quality throughout each stage of the software development life cycle, but it also allows the team to quickly recognize necessary changes and allows the project the flexibility to quickly adapt to these ever-changing needs.

An often overlooked benefit to this frequency of prototyping is the extremely powerful ability to allow a plethora of testers, via crowdtesting, to poke and prod at this particular prototype release, examining it in detail for bugs or minor imperfections that in-house developers simply wouldn’t notice or even think to look for. At the most fundamental level, utilizing crowdtesting for each prototype release during an agile development life cycle means that each minor version release is given its very own real-world beta testing period. By using the power of crowdsourced testing at every major step along the way, the project is certain to be that much more robust and durable when compared to using only in-house testing methodologies.

Crowdtesting also largely reduces the expense of running tests, by reducing overhead and risk, allowing for tests to be performed at any time and for virtually any reason.

Crowdtesting and Waterfall Development

Waterfall development models have been in use for decades now, and while agile methodologies (or hybrids of the two) are on the rise, waterfall remains a staple in the community. Unfortunately, the typical waterfall development model can promote a number of problematic practices when it finally comes time for testing. Since waterfall models are often stringent, forcing various task and phases to be complete before the next can occur, this frequently leads to the postponement of the testing phase until the very last minute. Invariably, it’s all-too-common for the testing phase during waterfall development to be rushed, not providing QA and other testers enough time or resources to fully flesh out all testing procedures.

The introduction of crowdtesting into the waterfall development model can be a great boon to alleviate some of that testing headache that often appears late into the development life cycle. By reducing the barrier of entry necessary to implement and perform tests, and by promoting more comprehensive test coverage capabilities than most in-house QA departments, crowdtesting can provide a real breakthrough, with tangible and immediate benefits within waterfall testing procedures.

Crowdtesting and Hybrid Development Models

Try as we might to implement the most streamlined and perfect development model to every project we begin, the reality is that many projects invariably fall into the category of neither purely agile nor purely waterfall, but somewhere in between. It is common in these hybrid models, in spite of the best intentions by the project team, for testing to frequently fall by the wayside.

The influence of the waterfall components on the project can invariably lead to delayed testing phases, dramatically reducing the likelihood of identifying and squashing a large portion — let alone the majority — of bugs that may exist. Similarly, imperfectly agile implementation may fail to produce thorough developer-driven unit tests and front-end functional tests, both of which are necessary to generate a fully-functional product.

Just as it can help with pure implementations of agile or waterfall models, crowdtesting can also greatly benefit the software testing procedures of hybrid development models as well. Most importantly, crowdtesting provides a bit of a safety blanket that can help reduce any troubles with testing procedures in a hybrid model by providing flexible, low-cost testing at every step along the way, producing a more robust and durable project when compared to solely using in-house testing methodologies.

Crowdtesting: A Key Piece in the Puzzle

While crowdtesting is an extremely powerful method of testing throughout the entire software development life cycle, it’s critical to understand that crowdtesting is just one more powerful tool in the larger testing toolkit, and recognizing when and where to implement it is key. While unit testing and other developer-driven testing procedures almost always take place, no matter the size of the project, it’s important to realize that crowdtesting is another piece of that testing puzzle, alongside unit testing, which should be implemented when and where it provides the most benefit.

While automated testing is a crucial component to the development process, crowdtesting promotes the integration of human testing into the overall testing process. Unlike automated testing, crowdtesting allows for tests to be performed in the real world, by a wide range of people on a variety of devices and platforms, in environments and locales where people truly live. Even the best automated testing processes or services cannot emulate the power and sheer diversity that crowdtesting provides.

In short, crowdtesting provides feedback and results that are personalized, mirroring the experiences that actual users are likely to have with that product. The world doesn’t care if your testing methods are perfect, it only cares that your software works, and crowdtesting can often help with that.