Even with how much automation can streamline workflows, sometimes manual software checks are still necessary. However, people still need to minimize errors in manual processes as much as possible. Here are four tips for reducing errors in manual software checks.
Automate the Lifecycle of Testing
Automated testing tools are not necessarily meant to automate testing procedures themselves. They can also be leveraged to automate the workflow and certain tasks that support testing, such as notifying human testers when tests are required, running initial, simpler testing before someone does a more in-depth manual test and scheduling each step in the testing process.
You may also be able to utilize testing platforms where all of your testing can be hosted and performed in one centralized location. This way, employees performing tests will be accessing the same programs, which greatly reduces error risk by ensuring only one employee can access a given program at a time and employees will always be testing the most up-to-date version of a program.
Practice Double Entry
There are also techniques available to assist people in reducing errors when manually testing or checking software. One of these is double entry, based on the accounting concept of the same name, where accountants balance books by ensuring the credits in one account match the debits in another. When you’re checking software, you’ll run the test twice. This can either be done by the same tester on two different devices or by two different people, just like how the accountant records two accounts.
If the two tests reach different conclusions, you can be sure there’s an error somewhere. Then, you can check the two tests and their results against each other to see what went wrong and where. Plus, two tests will provide a more thorough check of the software than a single test would. This method can be more time-consuming than others, but it’s also very thorough.
Use Mistake Proofing
This process analysis tool aids in manual checks by doing an automated pass through a system or program. Depending on the type of device or method you choose, it can either prevent simple errors from occurring or flag existing errors for a manual check and fix. Most organizations will develop a workflow and incorporate mistake proofing into the flow, commonly in areas where errors in manual input may affect output or results.
There are two functions: setting and regulatory. Setting functions automatically inspect the function or system for product defects or process abnormalities, such as incorrect size or temperature, incorrect sequencing and fixed values. Regulatory functions provide automatic stops that can halt processes until errors are resolved and signals incorporating colors, lights and sounds to indicate that an error has occurred and requires attention.
Enforce Standard Troubleshooting Techniques
Make sure employees checking software understand standard troubleshooting techniques and can implement them. In some cases, the simple or mundane issue and solution are more likely than an unexpected one, so employees should be encouraged to attempt standard fixes first in order to rule out those simple or mundane causes. Make sure employees know when it’s appropriate to restart a program or computer, scan for malware and viruses and learn how to install software patches, uninstall and reinstall programs and undo recent changes made to files or programs.
You should also have troubleshooting and user guides available for any software your company uses. This way, employees performing software checks will be able to refer to those guides to determine whether an issue lies in the software or in human error.
Manual software checks will never be entirely free of errors, but if you take these and other steps to minimize the number of errors in your manual processes, you will significantly reduce many issues and risks. These issues and risks can include not meeting compliance requirements, not maintaining certain data, content or style standards and losing the trust of your consumer base.