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Challenges and Solutions That Can Arise when Testing B2B Applications

Author: Sowmya Sridharamurthy

Last updated: February 23, 2024

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B2B applications are those that enhance and facilitate business-to-business collaboration. These specialized software solutions improve productivity, streamline processes, and enable easy interactions in the complex realm of inter-organizational transactions. B2B web applications lay the foundation for efficient data sharing, cooperation, and communication between organizations, enabling them to prosper in today’s cutthroat business environment, from automating procurement to managing supply chains.

B2B apps, as opposed to B2C (Business-to-Consumer) applications, concentrate on addressing the particular needs and demands of business users. They cover a broad variety of capabilities, specifically adapted to the complexities of corporate operations, including order administration, inventory monitoring, logistics coordination, financial transactions, and customer relationship management. B2B apps frequently interact with a wide range of platforms and systems, including EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) systems, CRMs (Customer Relationship Management), DM (Document Management), HCM (Human Capital Management), and more. They ensure accurate and prompt information interchange between partners, suppliers, distributors, and customers by facilitating the smooth flow of data.

In this era of digital transformation and interconnected business ecosystems, B2B apps are continually evolving and utilizing cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to drive innovation and give even more value. B2B applications are still the cornerstone of modern business collaboration, allowing organizations to thrive in inter-organizational connections as businesses strive to boost productivity, restructure workflows, and form stronger alliances.

Testing B2B applications may have challenges at different levels in varying degrees; let’s discuss a few.

 

 

Complex Workflows and Business Logic 

Complex workflows in B2B applications encompass a series of interconnected steps, tasks, and decision points that drive the application’s functionality. These workflows are often tailored to specific business processes, accommodating intricate approval hierarchies, data dependencies, and conditional branching. The business logic within B2B apps defines the rules, calculations, and algorithms that govern how data is processed, validated, and transformed.

The pressure to consistently test, maintain, and support a broad spectrum of existing functionality as well as the new features being delivered puts test engineering teams under constant stress. The whole process can become daunting, and conventional test planning might not be useful. Test engineering teams can attempt the complex workflow and elicit more user scenarios by adopting the following approaches.

Identifying user personas: By examining an application via the lens of the user personas, application complexity can be reduced. Testing teams will be able to identify test scenarios that are closer to scenarios that might occur in production by gathering knowledge about end-user personas. In order to prioritize the tests for complex regression testing for widespread applications, user personas should be identified.

Design thinking: Empathy, teamwork, and iterative problem-solving are key components of the human-focused approach known as design thinking. Although innovation and product design are often associated with design thinking, testing procedures and activities can also benefit from these concepts. Testers are encouraged to think beyond the conventional parameters of test execution and to concentrate on providing excellent user experiences by using design thinking in testing.

 

 

Web of Modules

Modules are specialized components or subsystems that address specific organizational functional domains. Each module focuses on a distinct aspect of business operations, and they all function as one cohesive unit. A complicated web of connected modules that should provide a smooth experience to large customers is what we mean when we talk about B2B applications.

There can be absolutely no negotiation when the test team has to cover the working functionalities. In such cases, test engineering teams can work more effectively by adopting the strategies below:

Adopting Systems Thinking: Understanding the intricate relationships and interdependencies inside a system is the emphasis of systems thinking, a comprehensive approach to problem-solving and decision-making. It entails investigating the interactions between different system elements to learn more about how they together affect the behavior and results of the system.

A system is greater than the sum of its parts, according to systems thinking. It places a strong emphasis on examining a situation or problem in light of the larger system in which it is embedded. It places emphasis on comprehending how modifications in one aspect of the system may have an impact on aspects other than the overall behavior of the system.

Divide-and-Rule Approach: Complex systems can be overwhelming and difficult to handle as a whole. The divide-and-rule approach allows us to break down these complex problems into smaller, more understandable units. By dividing a problem into manageable parts, it becomes easier to analyze and address each part separately.

Test each module separately, taking into account the test spectrum coverage for that module in its entirety, in order to increase stability through continuous improvement cycles. The difficulty is that there will always be functional outliers that rely on other modules for their operation. The necessity to launch sandbox systems or mock-up data in those circumstances adds technological complexity for the test engineering team.

 

 

Enhancements and Hotfixes

Enhancements refer to the process of improving and adding new features, functionalities, and optimizations to an existing software application. These enhancements are designed to meet evolving user needs, enhance user experience, increase productivity, and provide additional value to the users. Whereas hotfix refers to a small, targeted update or patch that is released to address a specific issue or bug in a software application. Hotfixes are typically released between regular software updates and are intended to provide immediate solutions to critical problems that require immediate attention. Although enhancements and Hotfixes are inevitable for any application, B2B is tricky due to its complex mesh of module interconnectivity. A fall in one place may lead to a Jenga fall.

Below are a few ways to handle enhancements and hotfix more efficiently in B2B:

Blast radius: Identifying the blast radius is essential for understanding the potential risks associated with a defect and determining the areas that may be affected. Assessing the functional dependencies of the software system includes identifying the modules, components, or features that directly or indirectly rely on the functionality impacted by the defect/enhancement. Follow up the previous task by identifying how the defect may impact the accuracy, integrity, or availability of data throughout the system. Last but not least assess the financial, operational, or reputational consequences that may arise from the failure

Data-led Testing: This software testing method emphasizes using data as a key driver for test case design, test planning, and test execution. To educate and direct the testing process, it makes use of data sets, data analysis, and data-driven methodologies. The aim is to guarantee that the software system operates precisely and dependably with various kinds of data inputs.

 

 

Interoperability

Interoperability refers to the ability of different components to communicate, exchange data, and work together seamlessly. It enables the integration and cooperation between disparate software applications, allowing them to function together effectively. A real-world example of interoperability can be the SAP Netweaver screen and backend. Customers are provided the flexibility to enhance either backend or frontend, or both.

When both frontend and backend are enhanced, it’s an ideal scenario. However, when customers choose to enhance only one then the modules have to work irrespective of frontend and backend versions. Teams used to perform interoperability tests to ensure the stability of modules across different versions of frontend and backend.

Interoperability tests are also important when different tech stacks are used within an application. In one of the retail web applications the landing page was designed with different frontend technologies, part of the application was in ReactJS and some other parts were in VueJS. Test engineering teams had to ensure the frontend rendering was seamless without any data loss.

 

 

Access Control List

B2B applications employ Access Control Lists as safety measures to govern and restrict user access to application resources, data, and features. The activities and resources that different entities, such as users, roles, or groups, are allowed to access are specified by ACLs, together with the permissions and restrictions that apply to them. ACLs are present in most applications, however, B2B applications have a reputation for their complicated access control list structures.

ACLs must be monitored and maintained continually to keep access rights current and in line with the B2B application’s changing requirements. This entails modifying rights and roles, adding or removing users, and routinely reviewing and updating the ACL rules.

An efficient ACL testing can be performed by:

Role-Based testing: To ensure that each role has the proper access rights and permissions, test several user roles. Check that people in different roles are unable to use unauthorized resources or go beyond the scope of their permissions.

Application Logs: Review logs and audit trails frequently to look for any irregularities or odd access patterns that might point to ACL flaws or unauthorized access attempts.

 

 

Final Thoughts

A thorough testing process helps find and fix errors, weaknesses, and performance problems, ensuring that the application satisfies the needs and expectations of its users. Organizations may reduce risks, improve user experience, and cultivate trust with their B2B partners by implementing complete testing methodologies like functional testing, integration testing, security testing, and performance testing. When testing B2B applications is successful, it allows for easy and secure interactions while maintaining the integrity of shared data and resources, which is essential for the overall success of corporate partnerships.

Sowmya Sridharamurthy

Sowmya Sridharamurthy is a product quality leader at Lytho. She’s worked on several software solutions and mentors teams in building effective strategies and implementations to achieve ROI through test automation. Sowmya focuses on driving inclusive software development. DevsOpsDays and The Test Tribe have had her as a speaker at their events. She’s also active on LinkedIn, Twitter, and her website.