On the surface, there are few differences in terms of skills required to do product testing compared to application testing, except perhaps extra diligence and an eye for detail.

However, some of the differences between product and application testing are as follows:

  • Software products need to work on a variety of environments and are expected to work on supported configurations of all supported platforms. This involves running of compatibility tests against supported operating systems and software that must co-exist with the product. This also involves repeating the same tests a number of times and is a fantastic argument for automation.
  • Products must be intuitive to use and work in a similar manner to other products in its domain. Moreover, products are used by a large number of end-users and the way different users use it, is liable to vary. Application users are typically instructed on how to use the application and how not to. Therefore, it’s generally alright if an application is shipped with some bugs in it. For products however, usability and stress testing are of utmost importance and it means that there needs to be a user advocate who tests a product with an end-user in mind.
  • Software products also tend to have regular upgraded releases, with enhanced functions which should not break any existing product functionalities. This requires efficient regression testing.
  • The product management team collates frequently changing customer requirements and market expectations of a product, while also contributing to the product roadmap. As a result, the scope of the product changes constantly and testing becomes complicated with daily builds involved.
  • Product management’s intervention in scope changes becomes more pronounced in agile environments while management thinks that by using agile the product can be taken to market faster. However, agile testing by itself is a specialized area and with requirements being added or modified constantly, testing becomes a complex process.
  • In some cases, when any bugs are found in a product after a release happens, they are taken as feature additions for the next product version and made as change requirements. In the case of an application, a customer can provide change requirements as bugs and construe it as a gap in understanding the requirements.
  • If a product is to be delivered as a plug-n-play solution to end-users, testing becomes straightforward as there are no multiple configurations and environments involved.

This is just a high-level overview of the differences between product testing and application testing.


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