Test Coverage for B2B Software at Every Stage of Growth

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Ashley Dotterweich, Thursday April 20, 2017

Quality is a key concern for teams with B2B customer bases. The software that teams choose to run their processes can have a significant impact on their own company’s success. Because of these high stakes, business audiences have a low tolerance for poor quality software that might prevent them from being productive.

Development teams with a B2B focus must develop quality processes that ensure that their product meets customer standards throughout the lifecycle own product and organization. In this post, we’ll take a look at how quality expectations change as a B2B-facing organization matures, and provide an overview of how your testing strategy can be optimized keep up with the demands of your use base.

Seed Stage: Stay Lean & Limit Scope

Focus On: Functional Testing, Dogfooding, Informal Integration Testing

At the seed stage, users have an expectation that your product is still being built -- that’s what seed funding is for, after all. But even B2B customers who are early adopters have expectations about how your product will function. They understand an early-phase product will have limitations, but expect enough solid functionality to move forward with their own product development.

To give them that functionality, focus on the internal quality of the product. Use unit tests and other code-centric quality approaches to make sure the product’s foundation is solid and dependable. If the product you’re building is one you can use yourselves, dogfooding will help you determine its reliability and usability, which will be key for business clients.

Highly formalized testing plans aren’t generally necessary at this stage. Since the application is brand new, there’s no need to worry about regression testing. It’s also too soon to worry about edge cases; those uncommon scenarios aren’t on anyone’s radar yet. However, headline cases are still important. Even in the earliest phases of use, catastrophic product failures can lead to catastrophic company failures. Focus your testing on catching and resolving major issues, rather than anticipating less common ones.

For the most part, devoting development resources to formal integration testing would be a waste at this phase, as the code is too unsettled. The integration tests will happen naturally as part of the other testing you do. While performance and security are important in late-stage products, B2B customers aren’t likely to expect them to be fully realized at early-stage companies. They may perform their own tests to satisfy themselves, but you don’t need to perform your own exhaustive load and penetration tests. It’s also too early for user acceptance tests; everyone knows your product is still a work in progress.

Series A/B/C: Aim for Better Functionality & Scale Coverage Strategically

Focus On: Regression Testing, Integration Testing, User Acceptance Testing, Load Testing

Once you’ve gone through one or several rounds of funding, your product will have gone through significantly more development, and B2B customers’ quality expectations will have increased in tandem. Your customers are more likely to cater to the enterprise market. Those companies have little tolerance for vendor products that cause problems, meaning you need to step up your quality level.

Increase your testing significantly at this stage. Make sure you include regression tests in addition to testing for headline cases. Add integration tests as another internally-focused check on quality. You also need to add externally-focused tests, like user acceptance and load testing. As you move up market you’ll need to anticipate the expectations of enterprise customers, who require products that can support their processes and handle their volume.

Working your way through progressive series of funding isn’t static; every stage of funding brings with it increased expectations for the quality of your product. Take each new round of funding as an opportunity to level up your product quality by revisting your testing processes.

IPO: Pull Out All the Stops

Focus On: Full Coverage, Edge Cases, Penetration Testing

At this point, you’re a serious business. By the time you reach IPO, your product needs to be rock-solid. It’s likely to be used in critical industries where failures have serious consequences. Intensify all the testing you’ve been doing to date. The edge cases that weren’t worth your testing time before now matter a lot. Your user base is large and diverse enough that end users are more likely encounter them. These customers rely on your product to help them do their job, and if they get frustrated enough, they’ll churn in favor of another product.

Security becomes non-negotiable at this stage. Add penetration testing so you can identify and resolve any vulnerabilities. With a broader use base, security breaches can impact large number people, with serious harm to them and to your reputation. Containing security breaches can cost a lot of money, so invest in testing up front to avoid a larger expenditure later.

Developing a B2B Software Testing Strategy that Keeps You Agile

No matter what stage of funding your company is at, finding and resolving bugs before they reach your customers is critical. Many B2B companies are turning to continuous testing strategies that provide continuous, incremental feedback on the quality of their product. This approach to QA allows them to respond quickly and efficiently, keeping customers happy and helping their business grow.

To learn more about implementing continuous testing strategies at your organization, download our free ebook, Continous Testing for CTOs.