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Testing SaaS applications for enterprises

Testing SaaS Applications — Everything That Enterprises Should Know

June 28, 2023
Rohan SinghRohan Singh
Rohan Singh

Enterprises adopt a myriad of SaaS applications to accelerate their processes and improve their business capabilities. In today's digital landscape, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications have become the backbone of many businesses, offering scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency. According to Gartner, SaaS applications will witness continued growth of up to 16.8% in 2023. As the demand for enterprise SaaS applications continues to rise, it is essential to ensure that these applications meet the highest quality and performance standards. Nonetheless, the complexity keeps increasing as businesses attempt to customize and integrate solutions to suit their requirements precisely. This article covers the importance of testing SaaS applications across enterprises and strategies that testers, product teams, SREs, and QA engineers require to deliver reliable, efficient, and high-performing SaaS solutions.

What are SaaS applications?

Enterprise SaaS applications are cloud-based software solutions that cater to business specific-needs of organizations across various industries. These applications bring to the table a wide range of functionalities, including customer relationship management, project management, human resources management, and more. As businesses heavily rely on these applications, any functional or performance issues can significantly impact productivity and customer satisfaction.

Read: Revolutionize Your Digital Strategy with Real-Time Customer Experience Monitoring

Why should enterprises test their SaaS applications?

Testing enterprise SaaS applications is crucial to identify and mitigate potential risks, ensuring a seamless user experience. The following are the primary reasons why these SaaS applications should be tested:

  1. Scalability: SaaS applications can quickly scale to accommodate the growing needs of businesses, allowing organizations to add or remove users and features as required.
  2. Flexibility: SaaS applications offer flexibility in terms of accessibility, as these can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection and across various devices.
  3. Detecting defects: When implemented early in a product's life cycle, testing aids in identifying high-priority defects and issues. It helps ensure that the application is bug-free or error-free. Early bug detection helps save money and resources. Hence, it is more crucial to implement the changes and make adjustments to the application while it is still being developed than it is to update it after the app is released for production. 
  4. Cost-efficiency: SaaS applications eliminate the need for businesses to invest heavily in infrastructure, maintenance, and updates, as these responsibilities lie with the SaaS provider.
  5. Continuous updates: SaaS applications are regularly updated by the provider, ensuring that businesses have access to the latest features and security patches.
Also read: Building Robust Software Testing Roadmap for Enterprises

What are the challenges enterprises face in testing SaaS applications?

Testing enterprise SaaS applications presents unique challenges, such as:

  • Multi-tenant architecture: SaaS applications typically follow a multi-tenant architecture, where multiple customers share the same application instance. Testing in such an environment requires thorough validation to ensure data separation and prevent issues caused by one tenant's actions affecting others.
  • Integration complexity: SaaS applications often integrate with various third-party services, APIs, and databases. Testing the integration points becomes critical to ensure seamless communication and data flow.
  • Customization options: SaaS applications may offer customization options for different customers. Testing should encompass these customization scenarios to verify their proper functioning and compatibility with the core application.
  • Finding the right SaaS testing tool: While applications are diverse and the complexities in processes increase, organizations find it challenging to find the SaaS testing tool that rightly fits their needs to ensure the optimal performance of the apps. 

Testing strategies for enterprise SaaS applications

To ensure the quality and reliability of enterprise SaaS applications, comprehensive testing strategies should be implemented. The following testing types are crucial for SaaS application testing:

Tests to be considered

● Functional testing

Functional testing focuses on validating that the application and its features function optimally and meet the specified requirements. It involves testing individual features, modules, and workflows to identify defects and ensure proper functionality across different user roles and scenarios.

Testers should conduct the following types of functional testing for SaaS applications:

  1. Unit testing: Testing individual components or modules to verify their functionality and identify any defects at an early stage.
  2. Integration testing: Testing the integration of different modules and third-party services to ensure smooth communication and data exchange.
  3. User acceptance testing (UAT): Involving end-users in testing to ensure the application meets their expectations and performs as intended in real-world scenarios.

● SaaS performance testing

SaaS performance testing is crucial as it helps test the limit of the software and identify factors like TPS/QPS of the features or APIs and the resource usage under that limit. This allows testing teams to create plans to prevent a system crash when the number is close to the limit. Testing performance should include the following:

  1. Load Testing: Assessing the application's performance under expected user loads to identify bottlenecks, response times, and scalability issues.
  2. Stress Testing: Evaluating the application's behavior under extreme loads to determine its maximum capacity and identify performance degradation or failure points.
  3. Endurance Testing: Running the application under sustained loads for an extended period to uncover issues related to resource leaks, memory management, and performance degradation over time.
Check out: A Guide on Automation Testing for Mobile App Performance Optimization

● Security Testing

SaaS applications often handle sensitive data, making security testing a critical aspect of the testing process. Security testing should cover:

  1. Authentication and authorization: This refers to verifying the effectiveness of access controls, password policies, and user roles and permissions.
  2. Data protection: Data protection ensures data confidentiality, integrity, and availability by validating encryption, data masking, and secure transmission protocols.
  3. Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT): This test attempts to identify vulnerabilities and potential entry points for unauthorized access or data breaches.

● Compatibility Testing

SaaS applications are accessed from various devices and platforms. Compatibility testing ensures that the application functions correctly across different browsers, operating systems, screen sizes, and resolutions. It helps identify and address compatibility issues that may affect the user experience.

● Geolocation testing

Geolocation testing refers to the testing of a web or mobile application from different IP addresses. Testing parameters include aspects like performance and notification parameters. One of the critical factors for considering geolocation testing is improving security. Additionally, organizations can test for local aspects or country-specific features like currency, language, social preferences, and much more with geolocation tests. 

Ensuring short, fast, and automated test cycles

Speed is very crucial in SaaS application development and testing. By breaking releases down into smaller components and testing them as early in the iteration as possible, the agile methodology addresses the issue of speed. Again, test automation is critical in accelerating the testing process, increasing efficiency, and ensuring thorough test coverage for enterprise SaaS applications. The following factors should be considered when implementing test automation:

● Garnering the advantages 

  1. Efficiency and speed: Test automation allows for the execution of repetitive test cases and tasks, saving time and effort compared to manual testing.
  2. Increased test coverage: Automation enables the execution of a larger number of test cases and scenarios, covering a wider range of functionality and configurations.
  3. Maintenance and scalability: Test automation frameworks and tools should be designed for maintainability, allowing easy updates and scalability as the application evolves.

● Selecting the right testing tools

Choosing the right testing tools is crucial for successful test automation. Enterprises should consider factors such as ease of use, support for different testing types, integration capabilities, and reporting capabilities. Some popular testing tools for SaaS applications include Selenium, JUnit, TestNG, and HeadSpin.

Continuous testing and DevOps integration

Continuous Testing is an essential practice in the DevOps methodology, focusing on integrating testing throughout the software development lifecycle. It ensures frequent feedback, rapid feedback loops, and the early detection of defects. Key considerations for implementing continuous testing in SaaS application development include:

1. DevOps culture and principles

Collaboration, communication, and automation are core principles of DevOps. By fostering a robust culture of collaboration and open communication between development, operations, and testing teams, organizations can achieve faster release cycles and improve SaaS QA processes and outcomes for the apps.

2. Implementing continuous testing for SaaS applications

To implement continuous testing in the context of SaaS application development, organizations should: 

  • Automate the execution of tests at various stages of the application development process, including unit tests, integration tests, and regression tests. This ensures quick feedback on code changes and reduces the risk of introducing defects.
  • Establish CI/CD pipelines that include automated testing to ensure that changes are thoroughly tested before being deployed to production.
  • Use infrastructure-as-code principles to provision and manage test environments, allowing for consistent and reproducible setups.
  • Introduce testing early (or shift-left) in the development process to catch defects and issues as soon as possible, minimizing rework and accelerating time to market.
Also check: The Essence of Shift-Left Testing in Organizations Today

Testing data management and privacy compliance

Data security and privacy are paramount concerns for SaaS applications, especially considering the sensitive information they handle. Testers should focus on the following aspects:

1. Data security and privacy regulations

Enterprises, in order to ensure data security, need to ensure that SaaS applications are compliant with crucial data security and privacy regulations, such as the GDPR or CCPA. Testers should verify that data handling processes, encryption methods, and access controls align with these regulations.

2. Test data management strategies

It is imperative for organizations to establish proper test data management strategies to ensure the security and privacy of test data. Testers should use anonymized or synthetic test data whenever possible and ensure that sensitive data is properly masked or obfuscated during testing.

Monitoring and analytics for SaaS application testing

Monitoring and analytics play a vital role in identifying performance issues and optimizing the user experience of enterprise SaaS applications. Testers should consider the following aspects:

1. Importance of monitoring

It is critical that organizations implement proactive monitoring solutions to capture real-time data on application performance, availability, and user interactions. Monitoring tools enable testers to detect anomalies, identify performance bottlenecks, and ensure the application's overall health.

2. Leveraging analytics for performance optimization

Enterprises should focus on leveraging analytics tools to analyze performance data and identify areas for improvement. By analyzing user behavior, system metrics, and user feedback, testers can gain valuable insights into the application's performance and make data-driven decisions to optimize its performance and user experience.

Read: Merits of on-prem real device and real device cloud for mobile app testing

HeadSpin's role in testing enterprise SaaS applications 

HeadSpin is a global omnichannel testing platform that enables enterprises to test a wide range of apps on-premise as well as on the cloud securely and capture critical KPIs to optimize app performance and digital experiences. By leveraging HeadSpin's robust device infrastructure and advanced data science capabilities, organizations can test on a wide array of real devices and proactively identify and fix high-priority issues. HeadSpin's data science driven Platform helps enterprises collaborate easily across teams, including Engineering, DevOps, and Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) teams, to seamlessly execute manual and automated tests to improve app performance and digital experiences. By leveraging HeadSpin's robust device infrastructure and advanced data science capabilities, organizations can test on a wide array of real devices and capture critical KPIs that impact end-user experiences. 

HeadSpin's unique capabilities that help test SaaS applications and ensure optimized user experiences include:

  • AI driven analytics: HeadSpin helps enterprises analyze real-time performance data captured through test sessions and automatically surface issues and their root causes. The Platform helps obtain deep AI generated insights with actionable recommendations that enable teams to make required improvements to the app and ensure a superior end-user experience.
  • Multiple deployment options: HeadSpin allows organizations to securely test applications in the cloud by allowing them to remotely access real devices through the global device infrastructure. The cloud deployment model helps isolate customer services, data, devices, configuration, and hosts to a private subnet and restricts access to the subnet. The Platform secures the process as no public IPs except the OpenVPN tunnel between the customer and HeadSpin are open.
  • Real device testing: HeadSpin's secure device infrastructure allows enterprises to access thousands of real SIM-enabled devices and test a wide range of SaaS applications. This capability allows testing and product teams to test across a wide range of real user scenarios. Furthermore, with the global device infrastructure HeadSpin allows to perform geolocation testing on real devices that covers the apps against any geography-dependent factors and ensures optimal performance.
  • User experience monitoring and performance optimization: HeadSpin's data science capabilities help identify high-priority issues and recommend solutions with issue cards to improve app performance and user experience. The Platform enables teams to capture hundreds of KPIs around devices, apps, OSs, and networks and offer customized solutions to cater to specific business requirements. With HeadSpin, enterprises are able to perform peer benchmarking and edge in the industry over their competitors. 

In a nutshell

Testing enterprise SaaS applications requires a comprehensive approach that covers functional, performance, security, and compatibility testing. Test automation, continuous testing, and monitoring are essential practices to ensure the quality, reliability, and user satisfaction of SaaS applications. By implementing the best practices and leveraging tools like HeadSpin, organizations can deliver high-quality SaaS applications to cater to user demands and maintain a competitive edge in the market.

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Q1. Where is SaaS hosted?

Ans: SaaS generally remains in a digital cloud that is hosted and maintained by virtual servers. SaaS providers often maintain a network of servers with improved security to ensure SaaS remains available for clients at all times.

Q2. What is B2B SaaS?

Ans: B2B SaaS refers to cloud-based software provided to other businesses. Such software is designed with business applications in mind rather than individual user applications.

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