Use Case Testing Tutorial: Comprehensive Guide With Best Practices

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OVERVIEW

Software testing process involves validating the system or its associated components with the intent to find whether it meets the defined system requirements or not. One of the software testing techniques is - use case testing. It is a type of black box testing that helps in identifying test cases that cover the entire system transaction-by-transaction from start to finish.

Use cases are written before the development phase begins. A testing team can use the use case document to create test cases. These test cases can be used for system testing, regression testing, user acceptance testing, etc. In addition to testing individual software components, use case testing can help identify gaps in software applications.

Before we understand the fundamentals of use case testing, let us discuss the use case and its importance in the software ecosystem.

What is a Use case?

A use case is a pictorial representation of how the user interacts with a system or product. It is a user-driven approach instead of a system-driven one. It describes the success scenarios, error scenarios, and any critical variations or exceptions to be handled. It can be written in a document or made as a visual with the help of a use case model.

A use case serves the following purpose:

  • Manages scope requirements related to the project.
  • Helps to establish the requirements.
  • Depicts different ways by which a user can interact with the system.
  • Visualizes the system architecture.
  • Helps to evaluate the potential risks and system dependencies.
  • Communicates complex technical requirements to relevant stakeholders easily.

Project managers need to know all the required details related to applicable use cases to quickly communicate the strategy to stakeholders and bridge the gap between business and technical requirements.

For example, if you are a project manager for an e-commerce firm and your company’s latest product idea is to introduce a subscription-based model for premium customers to avail of more discounts and cashback on online shopping.

Creating a use case for this application with the required scenario helps the stakeholders and the project team the customer behavior, customer interaction, understanding the gaps, and the requirements of the project.

How to write Use case for your project requirements?

A use case can be a helpful piece of information for your project documentation. The use cases can be elaborated depending on the intended audience. Here are the critical components of a use case:

  • Brief description: Brief description explaining the overall use case.
  • Pre-condition: These are pre-conditions the user needs to fulfill before the use case begins.
  • System: A system can be a product, service, or software to be taken into consideration.
  • Actors: An actor is a user that can interact with the system and exhibit the required behavior. The actor can be another system, a piece of hardware, or an entire organization. We can have a primary and a secondary actor in a use-case scenario. A primary actor can help to initiate the interaction with the system, while a secondary actor can provide the required services to the system.
  • Basic flow or main scenario: It is a specific sequence of actions and interactions between the actors and the system, commonly known as a use case instance. This is a typical workflow where an actor can get the expected output.
  • Alternate flow: Apart from the typical workflow, a system can have an alternate workflow.
  • Exception flow: The flow that prevents the user from achieving the desired outcome.
  • Post-conditions: The post-conditions need to be validated after executing the use case.

Example of Use case in real-world scenarios

Now that we have understood the basics related to use cases, let us understand how to implement use cases in real-world scenarios.

Let us take an example of an online food delivery application which is the primary use case where individuals can use the online app to place orders. The app can be used to receive orders, track orders, process payments, and communicate with the restaurant which is delivering the order.

Following are the use case for the food delivery application.

  • Use case description: A user can order food online.
  • System: Online Food Delivery Application.
  • Pre-condition: The user needs to access the system online with valid credentials.
  • Primary actor: Customer ordering food online and making payments.
  • Basic flow or main scenario: The customer can explore available restaurant options and place an order based on convenience and food preferences. The possible use case can be a customer and restaurant employee interacting using the food delivery application.
  • Expected flow: The expected outcomes of each iteration can also be tracked. This helps the development teams to understand the overall system functionalities so that they can execute the coding requirements in a much better way.
  • Post-condition: The system sends out the notification of the order details with the payments made.

Who writes the Use case?

The client or the customer provides the customer requirement specification for the product. The development team can write the possible use cases according to the customer requirement specification that is provided. There can also be a scenario where special workshops are conducted for writing the use cases.

All the required project stakeholders can attend this workshop so that they are aligned with the product goals and objectives. Once the use cases are written and finalized, it is shared with the customers for review.

Once the client approves it, the approved use cases are sent to the development team for further design and coding process. The approved version of the use cases is also shared with the testing team so that they can kickstart the test plan and start writing the test cases for different software product features.

It is always recommended to have project stakeholders write the required use cases since they know the product's functionality and overall design flow.

Pointers to consider for Use case documentation

Below are the following pointers you should keep in mind while creating the use case documentation.

  • It becomes important to mention all the required details to execute the use case successfully. We tend to give too many details about a particular use case or not enough details at all. So, providing relevant details is recommended so all the required use cases are covered.
  • Select the desired mode in which you want to depict the use case scenarios.
  • Write all the necessary process steps correctly and sequentially to avoid confusion about who is going through it. The intent is to make the steps self-explanatory with crisp and concise information.
  • Specify the non-functional requirements that can add value to the use case.

Now that we have understood the basic concepts related to the use case and its implementation in the real world, let us know more about use case testing and how it plays a crucial role in validating the system requirements.

Methods to identify possible Use cases

There are many standard ways to help you identify possible use cases if you do not have the required system information or documentation to get started. It is recommended to involve your customers during every phase so that you can clearly define all the necessary system requirements.

Some of the methods used by product teams all around the globe are.

  • Perform user interviews so that you can understand the user behavior and expectations. You can pick and choose a diverse set of users, helping you understand the system better.
  • Keep track of the user feedback and observations to realize the areas that are not addressed or need improvement in the long run.
  • Interview subject matter experts or domain champions for the new business processes.
  • Attend customer workshops where you can brainstorm and define all the possible use cases. This workshop can be attended by product managers, product owners, developers, testers, business analysts, and the customer, which helps define the requirements.

Difference between Use case and Test case

Let us try and understand the difference between the use case and test case:


Use caseTest case
It provides a pictorial representation of the series of actions taken by the actor that interacts with the system to achieve the desired goals and objectives.It is a standard document for the testing team to refer to, containing various testing elements, actions, expected results, etc.
It is created to understand the end-user interaction with the overall system.It is created to validate the system requirements.
It is based on system requirements specifications.It is based on the use cases.
It is focused on the end-user.It is focused on getting accurate testing results.
It provides a clear picture of functional requirements and lays a solid foundation for the testing teams to rely on.It helps to keep the team aligned with the testing goals and objectives. This can be reused for future reference as well.

What is Use case testing?

Use case testing is a type of black box testing technique that helps you to identify test cases that form part of the entire system on a transaction basis from start to finish. It is used for functional testing to find defects in a developed system.

Use case testing is important in identifying gaps related to your software application that could have been missed during component testing. With use case testing, you can determine the software quality through end to end testing methodology.

Below are a few characteristics of use case testing.

  • It helps to organize the functional requirements so that requirements can be referred to when required.
  • Describes the main flow and alternate flow of events.
  • Captures the goals and behavior requirements of different actors.
  • Capture the paths or scenarios for better system understanding.

Advantages of Use case testing

In this section of the use case testing guide, let’s see some of the benefits of use case testing.

  • It helps in understanding the system requirements with utmost precision and clarity.
  • It depicts the sequence of steps describing the interaction between actual users and the system in place.
  • It simplifies the overall complexities involved in the system as you can focus on one task at a time.
  • Testing team is thinking from the user’s perspective, so any issues related to the end-user experience can be easily identified.
  • Use cases are written with details related to pre-conditions, post-conditions, business rules, overall flow, exceptions, etc., that help the testing teams design and cover the required test cases easily.

Disadvantages of Use case testing

Let us understand some of the disadvantages of use case testing, which you should be aware of:

  • Use cases cover only the functional requirements, and we cannot test non-functional requirements, which could be a significant challenge in the long run.
  • The use cases are written from the user’s perspective. There could be scenarios in the system that are not supported from the end user’s perspective and might be missed in the use case documentation. In such a way, the test coverage is not exactly 100% for the feature or module to be tested.

Checklist to consider for Use case testing

As a specialized software testing team, it is important to know how to execute use case testing to achieve the desired results properly.

You can follow the below checklist to perform the use case testing.

  • Identify the use-case scenarios: The first step begins by identifying the required use-case scenarios. These use cases can be identified by testing and product management teams, where the finalized list of scenarios is shared with all the required project stakeholders.
  • Identify the test cases of each scenario: Once the use case scenarios are finalized, the testing team can identify one or more test cases that apply to each scenario.
  • Identify conditions to execute the required scenario for each of the test cases: The required conditions are identified so that the scenarios defined are executed. It is done against all the test cases defined in the previous step.
  • Addition of data values to complete the test case: The test case completion is performed by adding the required data values.

The above steps can help you perform the use case testing for your required module or product.

Prerequisites for building Use case testing plan

These are some prerequisites that can help you build a great use case test plan.

  • Complete and thorough understanding of the system functionality.
  • Evaluating the associated risks and dependencies in the initial project stages so they can be tackled when needed.
  • Establish a proper communication plan and share it well in advance with required stakeholders.
  • Timely and prompt communication about changes in scope or requirements.
  • Involvement of all the key stakeholders so that all the required inputs are collected well in advance.

Organizations need to build a solid plan or strategy around use case testing. That is why you will increasingly invest a lot of time and effort in reinventing their use case testing strategies and thinking about ways to address the non-functional requirements.

Who performs Use case testing?

Use case testing is not possible without the collaborative effort of different project teams. The main responsibility of the use case testing lies with the testing team that uses different test cases as a ready reference.

Moreover, they are aware of the overall system flow and design, so it is easier for them to validate the system requirements. The developers and business analysts can also be a part of use case testing since they understand the product requirements from the beginning.

Once the development and business analysis teams provide a go-ahead, the QA teams can perform another round of testing based on the test plan and test cases. Testers can often collaborate closely with product owners or business analysts to help develop high-level test scenarios or review end-to-end test cases. This approach is helpful as the product owners are closer to the users and thoroughly understand their approach in the long run.

It is better to consult the developers to ensure that the technically complicated workflows are thoroughly tested. Since knowing who is responsible for use case testing is important, it is worth considering the testing practices that evolve with time. As organizations rely more on quality engineering instead of quality assurance, the entire team plays an essential role in software quality. It becomes a collective effort of multiple teams to deliver desired outputs to the customers in the long run.

How to perform Use case testing?

Since we have discussed the major steps that can help you to perform the use case testing, let us understand how to perform use case testing using an example where in a use case, an actor is defined as A, and the system is denoted by S.

We have a standard login functionality related to a web application on which testing needs to be performed.

  • Consider the first step of an end-to-end scenario for login functionality where the actor enters the required email ID and password as the login credentials.
  • The system validates the password.
  • Once the password is correct, the user is provided the required access.
  • There can be an extension of this use case. If the password is invalid, the system displays an error message and asks the user to retry. The user can enter the valid password four times. Otherwise, the user account is locked.

When we talk about testing use cases for web applications and mobile apps in the software ecosystem, two standard testing approaches: are manual testing and automated testing.

Manual testing is a traditional yet reliable approach for validating your system requirements without relying too heavily on specialized tools and frameworks. However, the manual testing team requires a lot of technical interactions with development and product management teams which can take up a lot of time, impacting product delivery in the long run.

The manual approach has now been replaced by a more technology-driven approach known as automation testing. The testing requirements are automated using popular test automation frameworks like Selenium, Cypress, Playwright, Puppeteer, etc., to achieve faster and better results from an output perspective.

Each use case represents a functional requirement, and you must test each. So performing use case testing will allow you to cover those requirements. To test the functional requirements of your use cases with utmost ease and perfection, there are different cloud-based testing platforms like LambdaTest.

LambdaTest is a continuous quality cloud platform that helps developers and testers with an online browser farm and device farm to test their functional and non-functional use cases on real browsers, devices, and OS combinations. It avoids the hectic task of maintaining in-house test infrastructure.

Here is a quick rundown of the features that LambdaTest offers.

  • Test your websites and web applications across 3000+ real mobile and desktop browsers in real-time.
  • Using parallel testing, you can speed up test execution, get early feedback, and reduce costs associated with finding issues at an advanced stage.
  • You can get detailed insights into test logs to help you debug on the go. Also, view exception logs, command logs, network logs, framework-native logs, and a video log that reflects the entire test execution process.
  • Using our native plugins for Jenkins, CircleCI, Travis CI, and more, you can integrate LambdaTest test automation cloud with your favorite continuous integration tools.

Subscribe to the LambdaTest YouTube channel for software testing tutorials around Selenium automation testing, Appium automation, and more.

Best practices for Use case testing

Use case testing is a pictorial representation of depicting all the possible actors, their behavior, and system interactions. This type of testing lays a solid foundation for defining your functional requirements.

Testers and quality analysts refer to the use case testing results to ensure that all the required system functionalities are covered, and any missing gaps are closed.

You can follow some best practices to ensure that your use case testing delivers the desired outcomes:

  • It is recommended to maintain all the test assets, such as test cases and test results, in a centralized location so that all the project teams can easily access them.
  • Finalize the naming conventions to be followed for your use cases so that it is easier for the teams to refer to them when required.
  • Monitor the use case post conditions and metrics so that you can make the required changes or improvements in the long run. It helps to redefine or reinvent your testing strategies and processes.

Conclusion

In this tutorial, we discussed the different features and capabilities of use case testing. We also understood the critical importance of the use cases. In use case testing, test cases are created based on use cases.

It is a type of functional testing and a black box testing method that helps evaluate the system from the user’s perspective. A well-designed use case can help streamline the development and testing processes in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are use cases and test cases?

Use cases are based on system requirements and help understand the interactions between end users and the system. In contrast, a test case is a document testers use to verify if a particular feature is working correctly.

What is an example of a use case?

A separate use case often represents each software or platform's process step. For example, in an e-commerce purchase, use cases might include reports for adding items to the cart, selecting a payment method, and choosing a shipping and delivery method.

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