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Software Testing Approaches

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Just one defect can be enough to derail a product launch, so getting it right is important. Whether you augment existing staff or outsource software testing to a third party, it is a crucial step in getting your product to market. Of course, there are a variety of routes to the same destination, and software testing is no different.

Two Categories

At the broadest level, software testing is either static or dynamic. A static analysis looks at things that happen during run time and involves code review and inspection, algorithm analysis, and proof of correctness. It is performed by examining things like design architecture and specifications.

Dynamic analysis looks at the actual program in motion, pointing out potential errors and places where the product performs unsuccessfully. It looks at performance and behavior. Together, they work to provide the most accurate software testing possible.

You may also hear software testers talk about verification and validation. Verification determines whether or not a product adheres to the requirements established, while validation tells you whether or not a product offers the value it attempts to provide users.

Breaking It Down

Beyond the initial distinction, QA can vary depending on who and where you’re outsourcing software testing, but generally, you can break software testing down into these common approaches:


By using scripts and tools to eliminate more manual work, automated testing offers a high level of reliability because it nearly gets rid of human error. Automated testing can reveal more bugs, is easily replicated, and can cover a lot of ground. Generally, automation is more expensive upfront but saves money long-term by reducing manual testing for tasks that are repetitive and where the product isn’t changing. Test automation also offers rapid speed of testing. If the product is changing a lot, you need to keep refactoring automation to keep up, which usually reduces the value since maintenance is higher.


When partnered with automated software testing, manual testing is a great option. On its own, manual testing offers the potential benefit of human intuition (which can also be a problem). It provides fast feedback, is initially less expensive, is easy to get started, and requires fewer tools than automated methods. Together, automated and manual testing provide a software testing solution that is thorough, accurate, and flexible.

Outside the Box

Software testers often talk about testing in terms of differently colored boxes. While they aren’t literal boxes, it is a helpful framework.

Black Box

Black box testing happens when software testers approach a product without a thorough understanding of it. By looking at input-process-output, QA testers evaluate for function, ignoring code and internal structure.

White or Clear Box

White or clear box testing involves software testers that know how the software works and perform testing to verify that it is working as it is designed. Testers validate code and look at logic and structure, ensuring that paths within a module are accurate, logical decisions are verified on true/false values and otherwise correct, and internal data structures are right, among other things.

Grey Box

Grey box testing is a technique used by software testers who are only provided limited knowledge of the structure of what is being tested. It is a perfect option for web-based applications and is also often used for penetration testing.

A Roundup of Others

Of course, not everything fits into a box.

Agile Testing

Agile testing is one of the most popular testing approaches and corresponds with agile development protocols. By working in sprints, software development and testing happen alongside one another and change as software does. Agile QA testing allows for testing earlier in the development process, which can save time by catching issues early on.

Exploratory Testing

Some QA testers work using exploratory testing, which is a lot like it sounds–software testers move around however they’d like, identifying bugs and other issues. It is totally unscripted and is useful for moving in a way similar to that of actual end users because it relies on intuition. Alone, it would likely neglect certain things, but in partnership with other testing methods, exploratory testing provides great insight.

Waterfall Method

Waterfall testing happens after development has wrapped up and can be a good option for projects with specifically defined requirements that aren’t going to change. In this approach, software developers and software testers don’t necessarily work together–developers finish and QA engineers take over. For big projects, waterfall testing is problematic because it leaves everything to the end, which may be too late.

While there are many approaches to software testing, identifying the one that is best for your business relies on a number of variables, including business requirements, budgets, and timeline. If you’re thinking about outsourcing software testing, look for a company that can recommend a comprehensive strategy that meets your needs and gets your product to market.

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QualityLogic is standing by to discuss the perfect QA strategy for your business!


Gary James, President/CEO

Over the last 35+ years, Gary James, the co-founder and president/CEO of QualityLogic, has built QualityLogic into one of the leading providers of software testing, digital accessibility solutions, QA consulting and training, and smart energy testing.

Gary began his QA journey as an engineer in the 1970s, eventually becoming the director of QA in charge of systems and strategies across the international organization. That trajectory provided the deep knowledge of quality and process development that has served as a critical foundation for building QualityLogic into one of the best software testing companies in the world.

In addition to leading the company’s growth, Gary shares his extensive expertise in Quality Assurance, Software Testing, Digital Accessibility, and Leadership through various content channels. He regularly contributes to blogs, hosts webinars, writes articles, and more on the QualityLogic platforms.