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5 Characteristics of Testability in Software Engineering

Author: Enrique De Coss

Last updated: April 21, 2024

building testability in software engineering
Table of Contents

Testers often recognize one crucial flaw during the testing process: a lack of testability in software engineering. Sometimes, we need to design our test cases without a clear idea of how to start testing or, worse, how to provide testing results as soon as possible without any guidance. 

One option is to ask Developers and Business Analysts, but what about when testing was not considered when requirements were created, or code was implemented? In those cases, testing a new application or service could be challenging as there are no clear expectations.

It may be hard to drive testability from a testing perspective. Still, we need to work together. The Development Team and the Business Team should collaborate to achieve the testability of our requirements or artifacts. In our experience, we used the following steps to improve testability in software engineering.

building testability in software engineering


Five Characteristics to Build Testability in Software


Adding Simplicity

Simplicity means creating the most straightforward possible solutions to the problems at hand. Reducing the complexity of a feature to deliver only the required value helps testing minimize the scope of functionality that needs to be covered.

Never be afraid to ask about removing complexity from business requirements; less is more in this situation. As part of the definition of “done”, we need to have expected results in every story. If that is not feasible, we must at least have a clear idea of customer expectations.


Improve Observability

Observing the software and understanding different patterns gives us a tremendous advantage in catching gaps or errors. Exploratory Testing can improve observability. Sometimes, we need to learn from our applications; observing is core to exploring multiple behaviors and paths while testing.

Improving log files and tracking allows us to monitor system events and recreate problems, an additional benefit of enhancing ongoing supportability.



Control is critical for testability, particularly so if required to perform any test automation. Cleanly controlling the functionality to manage the state changes within the system in a deterministic way is valuable to any testing efforts and is a basic element of a test automation strategy.

I suggest focusing on what we can expect (expected results). A simple approach: grabbing customer-centric scenarios and identifying specific outcomes. This way, we can do test automation. Otherwise, automating something unexpected or unpredictable is chaotic.

“I’ll show these people what you don’t want them to see. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible.”

NEO, The Matrix Franchise

Be Knowledgeable

As testers, we must be subject matter experts on the application, take advantage of that learning or new user experience, and collaborate. It is crucial to share the knowledge with the rest of the team and continuously learn from others. This is a never-ending journey.

Involving testers brings a wealth of testing knowledge and context to any software discussion. Team members must work together to understand the essential quality attributes, critical paths, core components, and associated risks in a design that allows the team to mitigate those risks in the most effective way.


Testing Stability

It is tough to test a system with functional variability in high levels of operational faults. Nothing hinders testing like an unstable system. We cannot create automation test scripts or Performance test scripts with applications continuously changing or failing.

Stability can be tricky. Unstable systems can destroy the application’s reputation and result in financial loss. Therefore, it is essential to get a stable version of the application to create our tests before starting any test automation.


Final Thoughts

When we talk about high-quality applications, testability must be there; a system so complicated and unable to provide atomic checks could be hard to integrate. In addition, testability can improve unit testing, API testing, integration testing, performance testing, and others.

Testability can increase confidence in our test results through better visibility of the states and mechanisms on which these results are available. However, keep in mind testability is not a magic wand. It is vital to constantly communicate with the team and guide them about testability during requirement designs, coding, and implementation.

Happy Bug Hunting.



Frequently Asked Questions

  1.  What should be the mindset of a software tester?

    A tester mindset is constantly recognizing and evaluating assumptions in order to determine if these are valid and valuable, or are misleading their testing activities.

  2. How do you ensure that software meets quality standards?

    A structured QA strategy along with regular testing is a way to ensure software quality. Multiple testing cycles combined with automation will catch the bugs that other testing strategies may have missed.

  3. How could to improve as a software tester?

    Learn about different testing techniques, get familiarized with different software testing tools, and continuously practice skills for improvement.

Enrique De Coss

Enrique A. Decoss is a Quality Strategist with a focus on automation testing teams. A certified Scrum Master, Tricentis Tosca Certified Automation Architect, and Pythoneer, he focuses on web programming, implementing API testing strategies, as well as different methodologies and frameworks. Enrique is currently at FICO but can be found sharing his knowledge on LinkedIn and Twitter.