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The Introductory Guide to Software Test Maintenance

Author: Pricilla Bilavendran

Last updated: June 10, 2024

test maintenance
Table of Contents

What is Software Test Maintenance?

Developers don’t usually talk about Software Test Maintenance unless something terrible happens. During our Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC) phases, we often speak phrases like, “It’s easy to maintain” and “It needs a lot of maintenance.” But we don’t take enough action from the start to make maintenance easy. We create a significant number of test cases as part of the testing process, and in this agile era, they must be updated often to keep up with the application’s behavior. We’ve all been there. It’s painfully uncomfortable, and it requires a lot of effort.

Software test maintenance is an essential aspect of any software testing process. It includes all of the operations and procedures carried out to minimize defects and increase test efficacy. It is especially critical for systems with complicated user interfaces, where having a reliable test plan that can discover errors quickly and correctly is vital. This plan should contain actions such as performing periodic tests, upgrading current tests, and developing new tests when needed. 

In this article, we will learn more about test maintenance and its importance.



Why is Test Maintenance Important?

Test maintenance is essential because it ensures that the software system stays current with changing needs and technology. Test maintenance can decrease expenses associated with resolving production system problems by regularly testing for bugs and weaknesses in the code. It also ensures that software satisfies customer requirements, prevents errors from making it into production, and guarantees that applications perform as expected. Furthermore, test maintenance can assist in identifying places where enhancements can be made to improve the user experience or performance. With test maintenance, you can easily update your test cases as needed, saving you and your team members time and effort. 

Additionally, it’s crucial to confirm that any tests that have passed continue to do so and that any failed tests have been rerun once the issue is fixed. A software system must continue to be stable and dependable, and appropriate test maintenance makes sure that any modifications are tested properly.



What Are the Main Test Maintenance Types 

Before learning about the main types of test maintenance, we should know the major types of software maintenance.

There are four main types of software maintenance: Corrective, Perfective, Adaptive, and Preventive.

  • Corrective maintenance fixes errors and defects in already-running software.
  • Perfective maintenance adds additional features to current software to improve it.
  • Adaptive maintenance adapts software to changes in the environment, such as hardware and operating system upgrades.
  • Preventive maintenance is a proactive software maintenance approach that entails regularly testing and validating the program’s integrity.


There are different types of test maintenance which are a subset of the software maintenance types.

New Feature Maintenance: In this form of maintenance, existing test cases are updated to reflect modifications to the features or functionality of the product being tested. Depending on what works best for your project, you can accomplish this manually or using automated tools. Making sure that no new issues are introduced once these new features are added, as well as all pre-existing bugs are still present and functioning as they were before the addition of these new features, is the principal objective of this form of maintenance.

Bug Fixing Maintenance: To address defects raised by your clients (or stakeholders), we must change current tests utilizing whatever resourcing we have. After the bug fixes, all the relevant test cases will be revisited and updated accordingly. 

Code Changes Maintenance: Based on the code changes, we need to update the tests accordingly. Code changes can be done for various reasons, including code optimization, updates to existing features, and so on.



What Are the Common Reasons That Require the Test Case Update?

Many reasons could contribute to the update of the test cases. Some of the reasons are common and occur in most of our projects. Below are a few:

  1. Change in Scope of the project
  2. Nature of the project
  3. Inadequate application expertise when writing test cases
  4. Inadequate skill set
  5. The verbiage used may be misleading
  6. Need for regression testing
  7. Updated/deleted/obsolete requirements


Wherein for the automated test cases, there are a few other specific reasons:


  1. When a requirement changes, the locators/elements must be updated
  2. Project budgeting
  3. Update to the framework
  4. Changes with the Automation tools
  5. Code Review
  6. Code Optimization
  7. Integration with third-party applications
  8. Need for re-running the test cases
  9. Optimization of test suites and selection of smoke/regression test cases



What are the Different Types of Software Testing & How Do they Relate to Test Maintenance?

Software testing is a critical part of the software development process. It contributes to the software’s quality and capacity to fulfill customer needs. There are various kinds of software testing, each with its own goal and set of methodologies. Unit testing, regression testing, integration testing, acceptance testing, and system testing are examples of these. Each kind has distinct characteristics that can assist the stakeholders in identifying problems in the code and discovering methods to improve their products. 

Unit testing is used to test individual components or units of a system. Integration testing is used to test how different parts of the system interact with each other. System testing is used to test the overall system. Acceptance testing tests how well the system meets the user’s requirements. Regression testing ensures that changes to the system do not introduce new errors (maybe after every deployment or major defect fixes).

Each phase has its collection of test cases. All test cases should be updated based on the modifications. If the code is changed, all tests must be updated, from unit tests to end-to-end tests. Only after they are all in sync with the latest features can the product be thoroughly tested. Not only the tests but also the requirements, mapping documents, and any related documents must be updated to reflect the changes.



Closing Thoughts

Software test maintenance is one of the most important factors/processes in a Software Testing Life Cycle. Maintenance requirements can be found in every software project. So, organizations must ensure that they have well-maintained test cases with multiple benefits.

It is crucial to maintain your tests. The longer you wait to update them, the more difficult it will be to do so in the future (and potentially break them). If you hadn’t kept track of every change made throughout development, you might have even done a lot of extra work for yourself.

Do not brush aside maintenance time; it is an essential component of software testing. Also, don’t underestimate it. Maintain the current state of your test cases, and with the finest approaches and tools, you may optimize the maintenance process even more. 

“Test maintenance is a difficult, painful, and crucial procedure. It should be planned and managed with extreme care”

Pricilla Bilavendran – Team Leader at Billennium IT Services

Pricilla Bilavendran

Pricila Bilavendran is a test engineer and a certified mentor, currently at Billennium, as well as an advocate for diversity and inclusion. Her experience with Functional, EDI, ETL, Automation, API testing and Postman is part of what she shares in her workshops, webinars, and writing. A global ambassador for the WomenTech Network, and one of the speakers at its 2023 conference, she can be found on LinkedIn, Twitter, and her blog.