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Performance Testing – Would You Risk Not Doing it?

Many of us are aware of mistakes that are made in choices and actions that are taken in the domain of performance testing. Examples of this are easy to come by. Compromises are very often made on the quality and coverage that result in misleading results and interpretations.

The worst performance testing mistake

However, perhaps the biggest crime committed is the lack of understanding of the performance risk profile of the changes being made prior to onset of testing. Those who create the impetus for performance test exercises very often tend to be guided by their instinct or standards, rather than taking a hard look at the performance risks exposed by the changes being made.

Performance risk can manifest at a systemic or component level. The performance testing requirement should provide sufficient coverage to mitigate the significant performance exposures, and unless there is good justification stay within these confines.  

The intensity of performance risk is invariably categorised in terms of:

  • Likelihood of the performance risk occurring
  • Impact as felt by both technology and business in terms of reputational damage, cost, and inconvenience.

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There is a clear connection between technical risk and the ability to achieve stated business and technical performance goals. Indeed the absence of performance goals constitutes a performance risk as technology deliverers can never hope to match requirements that have never been stated.

Performance testing mangement

Common sense would seem to suggest that time committed to performance risks assessment in evaluating the test strategy is time well spent. Ideally performance risks should be understood from a very early point in the project lifecycle to ensure that design is fit for purpose and is ultimately implemented in a performant way. In this sense Performance Assurance is a whole lifecycle activity, and not just an afterthought at the end of the testing phase.

With performance risks assessment it is possible to target the focus of performance testing. In this way costs of testing can be managed more easily across the domain of projects.

Skilled performance engineering resources can be channelled into projects with the biggest exposures. Performance Risks Assessment has to be the right way forward.

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