Testing When You’re Short on Time

Software testing over a short time span that fulfills the needs of end-users, has zero defects and doesn’t compromise on quality can be a huge challenge. Understanding the testing objectives before you plan what to test can also be laborious.

To minimize finding defects late in the testing process, it is recommended that test activities begin in the early stages of SDLC because late finds make software testing an even more time-consuming process. They disrupt team efficiency and hinder the ability to analyze those challenges effectively.

Sometimes, a moment comes during the test cycle when we realize we don’t enough time left to properly test the application. Everything may have started well but then we find that things are not working as planned, so what’s gone wrong, and what can we do about it and still make the deadline on time?

Incorrect Estimates

When time estimates have been calculated inaccurately, then we will face problems in carrying out the tasks in the given time frame. To avoid this, team must take into account the following things:

  • There should be separate time estimates allocated for tasks such as test data preparation and determining test readiness (i.e. smoke test and sanity test).
  • Test cases should be maintainable for use in the long-term. During execution, minor updates can happen and there should be buffer time already reserved for adjusting those changes.
  • A team should provide a realistic estimation for communications, to include meetings, management, tools, and any other related things.
  • Every project needs a capable team. If there are members who are less experienced and are not familiar with the tool, then compensatory time must be allowed for their training and learning curve.

Technical and Random Issues

Some technical problems can be anticipated and steps taken in advance to avoid them occurring:

  • When basic tests fail on the build deployed to the QA environment, there’s nothing we can do except wait for the build to get fixed. This is the biggest time waste in testing.
  • There can be other factors such as server problems, which can cause delays in deploying the build in a QA environment. These issues seem minor but their impact can be huge, leaving the team with less than enough time to test properly.
  • Despite being aware of the situation, many organizations undermine the importance of the QA environment for effective testing. This viewpoint has no benefit for the stakeholder, but can cost the organization in denting their reputation and losing of valuable time for the testing team.

QA Time

How to Deal with These Problems

  • The team must analyze the task’s time estimation accurately and properly.
  • Each team must tailor their needs according to available resources, tools, and existing processes.
  • Data from past projects can be helpful in estimating how long the test cycle could take to complete, what kinds of impediments were encountered, what kind of risks were taken into consideration, and what kind of defects were reported, etc.
  • There should be a checklist of questions which will help you plan the testing accordingly. The following questions should be considered to help reduce the risk of testing running short of time:
    • What are the important functionalities in the project?
    • Which function has the largest financial impact?
    • Which are the high-risk modules in the project?
    • What are the test cases that can cover most of the functionalities in the least time?
  • The team should use a test management tool to reduce the time needed for reporting and fixing defects.


As a final consideration, we all know that it is almost impossible to test everything and achieve a 100% bug-free application. Teams are also unlikely to be able to thoroughly test an application when time is short. Keeping in view the above points and employing risk-based testing along with requirement based testing will help achieve the optimal level of effectiveness in order to avoid any setback in the production environment. The team should identify and analyze requirements that are high risk, then plan test activities based on this analysis. In this way, a helpful strategy can be devised to prioritize according to the time constraint and a list of test cases can be made of those that need to be executed first, to ensure the essential parts of the application are covered.


Ali Imam

Ali is an experienced software tester and has worked with in a variety of areas from e-commerce, healthcare and social networking.