Importance of Testing: Case of Samsung Note 7
Test it or let the customers do it in wild! Testing is not a state it is a process, any failures in the process, makes the quality ruined. Moreover any failures detected in any part of a product makes the product failed in terms of customers. Therefore we need to deploy the quality as a process of product and services which are given to customers for along the product life cycle. In this post I want to explain the importance of testing with the case of successful Korean technology company 'Samsung'. The real problem with product is that desing of the battery has some defective points because they want to push boundaries too much for having more power small battery cell. For more detail you can this post.
Lets look at product life cycle management (PLM) first. It explains a product from an idea to creating a product and terminating supports. It divides the product life cycle management into four main stages as follows:
- Conceive : Imagine, specify, plan, innovate
- Design : Describe, define, develop, test, analyze and validate
- Realise : Manufacture, make, build, procure, produce, sell and deliver
- Service : Use, operate, maintain, support, sustain, phase-out, retire, recycle and disposal
For the classical approach, quality attributes are associated with design phase as a step just before the product releases. However, the quality is very prone to failures if something dismissed in the previous steps just because the failing points cumulatively occur in any stages of process. It is also important that the most of test are performed just before the product release but if you have fulfilled the correct quality activities in every stages of process than you will have less important / less complex / less critical bugs in the testing step.
What was not Good for Samsung
For sure the failing point is that the defective product was released. However, the most important thing is that the defect is harmful effect. So we should classified it as highest priority and critical severity. Priority is highest because even the defect is not encountered with majority but if it was encountered it could cause serious problems. The most serious problem is killing the users or even killing a group of people so the severity is critical. This defect caused financial loss, reduced the company's reputation, damaged the environment, loss of customer, fortunately not loss of a life.
What was the Worst Thing for SamsungAfter a failure best thing could be announcing the risk and replacing the product with non-defective products. This was the thing tried by Samsung but the horrible part is that the replacement product also had same kind of issue. Most of the people believed that Samsung could do better for forgivingness but this was reduced the reputation of the brand people started to think the opponent of Samsung, even some of them started to think the opponent of Android.
What Should Do
Samsung case does not mean that they have bad testing team, strategy and environment but may be this case has ever been the serious problem they had. According to Routers, they recalled 7 million devices and expected to have $17 Billion lost in revenue, plus lost customers and reputations. Let's look at what we can do to minimize such risks:
Test Environment Limitations
Test results are as good as test environments! If you expect that a feature can work in live because you couldn't test it in test environments, it is clear that there is no assumptions in testing, this is just taking risks of that feature. Therefore test environments should be continuously updated with the live environment in terms of software, hardware and other components.
Non-Functional Testing is Difficult
Functional testing is to perform testing with running the product code in a machine, so it gives a fail or pass result but non-functional tests are very challenging. Basically, non-functional tests are performance, usability, operability, maintainability, stability, reliability and so on. Each of the test are depends on many factors such as; location, temperature, air pressure, age, gender, education, disability and so on. Under these condition there is no standard value to check a non-functional attribute. If you produce a device like mobile phone, people are carrying it anywhere they go so the range of temperature can be change from -60°C to 50°C, for more detail check this. As a result your design should be consider this fact and your test environment should be convertible to these conditions to run non-functional testings. See that these are not that easy!
Canada −63.0 °C (−81.4 °F) Snag, Yukon 1947-02-03
United States 56.7 °C (134.1 °F) Death Valley, California 10 July 1913
Unfortunately, no matter how hard try to create test environments same as real user live conditions, you will not totally achieve this because the number of user environment is countless. Therefore beta testing is a solution for better result. Beta testing is a stage when a product ready for release it is given to specific group of customers to use the product and getting feedback for the real performance of the product. If only selected group of customers use it in their environment without a control of the company it is called closed beta testing, if all the customers willing to use product, it is called open beta testing.
It is not possible to test the %100 of features of product in controlled test environments. In any case, there are always something reminds for customers to see if it works or not but the important point is taking controlled risks. Depends on risk based testing, risk is equal to multiplications of likelihood of case and impact of case:
Risk = Likelihood X Impact
So list the risks from highest to lowest, start from the highest one and test untill the release date and don't take any risk that you never want to face in live.