Improving Testing Approaches for Complex Hardware-Software Systems

Improving Testing Approaches for Complex Hardware-Software Systems

3 July 2024 Stephan Petzl Leave a comment QA

Developing and maintaining complex systems like wifi/2g boards that communicate with a server can be challenging. Ensuring the reliability of both firmware and server software is crucial, especially when failures are often detected by clients. In this article, we will explore several strategies to enhance your testing methodologies, drawing from practical insights.

Root Cause Analysis (RCA)

One effective method to improve testing is conducting a thorough Root Cause Analysis (RCA) when bugs are detected. By asking the “5 Whys” technique, you can trace back to the origin of the issue. This approach helps identify procedural gaps, such as insufficient design or lack of code review, which can guide you to more focused testing.

Defect Correlation

Collecting bug data and analyzing it for patterns can reveal correlations that might not be immediately obvious. For example, tracking bugs by sub-module, developer, or environment can help identify areas that are more prone to issues. This data-driven approach can guide you to prioritize testing efforts where they are most needed.

Risk-Based Testing

Given the infinite number of possible tests, prioritizing based on risk is essential. Conduct a risk assessment of your product and focus on scenarios that could lead to the most severe failures. This ensures that critical areas receive the most attention.

Automated Testing

Automation can significantly enhance your testing efficiency, especially in systems with constant updates. Automated regression testing ensures that new changes do not break existing functionalities. Techniques such as “hardware in the loop testing” can be explored for systems involving hardware components.

Exploratory Testing

While automated tests cover predictable scenarios, exploratory testing allows testers to creatively identify issues that automated scripts might miss. This approach is particularly useful for uncovering edge cases and unexpected behaviors.

Reviewing Unit Tests

Ensure that unit tests are in place and comprehensive. Unit testing helps catch issues at the earliest stage of development, reducing the likelihood of defects making it to the integration or system level.

Configuration and Environment Management

Issues in configuration management and environment setup can lead to false positives or missed defects. Ensure that your testing environments mirror production as closely as possible to avoid discrepancies.

Negative Testing

Incorporate negative testing to check how your system handles invalid inputs and unexpected conditions. This helps in identifying vulnerabilities and improving the robustness of your application.


Improving your testing approach involves a combination of root cause analysis, defect correlation, risk-based prioritization, and a balance of automated and exploratory testing. By adopting these strategies, you can enhance the reliability of your complex hardware-software systems and reduce the likelihood of client-detected failures.

For teams looking to streamline their testing process, tools like Repeato can be invaluable. As a no-code test automation tool for iOS and Android, Repeato leverages computer vision and AI to create, run, and maintain automated tests efficiently. This can significantly speed up your testing cycles and ensure comprehensive coverage, making it an excellent choice for quality assurance in complex projects.

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