If functionality is the lifeline of an application, regression testing ensures that the functionality is maintained after changes have been made to the application. But off late, companies have been struggling to deploy regression testing successfully. This is partly because of the rise of IT system complexities, which has introduced new and unknown variables to regression testing. A part of the problem also lies with organizations themselves. There is considerable slackness in adopting advanced regression test strategies to keep pace with the changing IT dimensions.

Why Regression Testing May Not be the Right Answer

It’s wrong to assume that if regression works once, it would work well for every release. How much ever small a change might be, there is no guarantee that the application will work well after the new changes are introduced. And in such cases, carrying out regression testing would be akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. Further, carrying out time-bound testing to a system with new levels of complexity (introduced by the changes can make regression testing all the more impossible.

How can testers know where to look for? Likewise, testing the product all over again is not feasible because it would entail spending months on a system that took only a few weeks to develop.

The problem worsens as the system ages. Subsequent changes to the system, over a period of time, would further add to the complexity of executing regression testing. And when people involved in the original product move out, the problem worsens. New people working on it may take to it with fear and may even botch it up. Even if they do their best to understand the architecture, it is unlikely that the changes they make would fit neatly into the original design theme.

On the organizational front, most companies do not have a robust strategy for creating, maintaining and executing regression test suites. Consequently, they lack the requirements needed for case traceability for a pre-release update. And to top it, they do not have environments conducive to regression testing. Addressing these challenges has never been easy.

It’s Time to Embrace Risk Based Testing

Risk-Based testing is a form of speculative testing in which only parts of a system are tested. The parts to be tested are determined on the basis of where the risks are highest. Though this means part of the system remain completely untested, it ensures that the risks involved in doing so are low. With this type of testing it is possible to address the complexity and scale of regression testing suite in a methodical manner.

Risk-based testing is based on the logic that for an application to succeed not every function needs to work at optimum levels. In other words, quality level can be maintained by cutting down testing in less important areas. So the approach is to find defects in the most important functions first and analyze the risks involved with these functions.

This approach can be beneficial in:

  • Encouraging impact assessment to identify chances of failure
  • Planning and identifying test data needs
  • Spotting important bugs earlier
  • Reducing time spent on testing trivialities
  • Cutting down the test execution period when there is a schedule crunch without exposing to high risks
  • Increasing test case effectiveness


With complexity of technology increasing, failures in identifying defects through regression testing will see a marked rise in the days ahead. As risk-based testing (RBT) can significantly reduce the risk inherent in making small changes to a large system, it will soon take center stage as the main form of regression testing strategy across organizations.