Testing Enterprise Apps

By Rachel Obstler, Sr. Director Product Management, Keynote Systems — March 10, 2014

Mobile app development has seen explosive growth in the consumer market the past few years, with the momentum not slowing down anytime soon. From games to personal productivity apps,mobile apps are a part of smartphone consumers everyday habits.
 
These consumers are also employees in a modern workforce that crave convenience with employers and demand efficiency, thus the need for mobile enterprise apps has grown as well.  Smart businesses are shifting to meet this demand.  
 
Certain internal mobile apps are already becoming standard — expense reporting and timekeeping, for example. Apps that support sales are also booming, and companies that recognize the benefits of investing in enterprise apps are quickly trying to build them to empower their workforces.
 
With this rapid need for the development and use of custom enterprise mobile apps, organizations need to identify and focus on optimizing overall mobile quality.

Testing for Mobile Quality
The World Quality Report 2012-2013 from Capgemini reveals that the area of greatest increase in spending for quality assurance (QA) budgets across all sectors is for testing, but notes that companies are behind when it comes to mobile testing.  The majority of those that are testing (64%), however, are focusing on meeting the demands for user experience.

This case for mobile quality in the enterprise stems from the nuances of  employees as consumers. Employees are particular about the functionality of their apps, demanding the same quality experience at work as they do with apps downloaded for personal use.

In the consumer world, if an app's quality is not satisfactory to the user, it may result in a bad app rating. For the enterprise, it means the employee will abandon using the app and the time and resources put into development are wasted.

Device Diversity
With a reported 3,997 Android device models alone, addressing device diversity is a necessity when planning a mobile strategy. What may work on a Samsung Galaxy S3 may not appear or function the same as on a HTC EVO Shift. 

Different form factors, including screen sizes, operating systems, along with carrier and platform updates can compromise an existing, once bug free app's functionality.  For mobile app success, you should develop a pragmatic approach to device diversity in the mobile strategy.

Real Device vs. Emulation Testing
Testing will certainly save time and avoid many unexpected challenges, and there are a few options for the approach. The choice between choosing real-device and emulated testing will ultimately depend on your budget and the complexity of the features for the mobile app.

Emulated device testing is a quick and cost-effective way to see how your mobile site functions on a large number of mobile devices. This option gives the ability to test across the thousands of different device models without the overhead of purchasing and maintaining a library of mobile devices.

However, while less expensive and sufficient for many of your testing needs, emulation can fall short of delivering a pixel-perfect rendering of your website.
Using real devices is the only way to understand the real user experience and witness how a mobile website or app will react in a live environment. For example, real device testing can accurately pinpoint issues when monitoring for finger swipes and taps on icons, something emulated software just cannot replicate.

While results are more accurate, the tradeoff comes in cost and time, as the resources needed to hunt down every model, new and old, can quickly turn into an enormous headache.

Best of Both Worlds
Ideally, your testing approach will combine real-device testing for device functionality and detail, while emulators are used more for responsiveness and scalability. A hybrid strategy serves best for balancing resources with quality results.

Testing your app beyond the deployment stage is also crucial to keep the flow of productivity moving forward instead of reverse.

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