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Can anyone provide some advice on testing a fairly significant IVR structure?
We are implementing an IVR with 165 junctions, the majority of which have "repeat last message" and "return to main menu" features and are pondering how to achieve maximum test coverage without any automation tools.
Re: IVR Testing
"If you are testing a specific implementation of an IVR script then your job is much easier. Basically, you can build a flowchart of the call flow and all possible branches. With this you can ensure that your tests go down each path. Then you would also test the boundaries of each variable inputted in the script, any formatting on repeated information (dates, money, etc..) and error conditions related to this specific script (such as invalid choices based on the user account - like transferring $100 from checking to savings when checking has less than $100 dollars.)"
To reduce the number of unique paths you have to traverse, you should consider some sort of pair-wise test planning tool, like All Pairs (it is free.)
Re: IVR Testing
I worked for 10 years on the IVR system of a very large company. The system was very complex, with thousands of junctions. Testing, for the most part, was manual. We bought an automated system called Hammer that, in my opinion, was great for finding errors on a particular system -- say, a particular line went down -- but definitely was not optimum for the testing you're asking about.
Your IVR software should have a testing tool that enables you to walk through the call flow. Those tools can be cumbersome. For your standard errors or timeouts, testing once is enough for all occurrences -- provided you've cloned (meaning that you've used the same error handling for all menus, prompts, whatever). If you've changed any part of it, then you'll need to do the iterations just to make sure it works.
Tim is right: a flowchart/call path is essential. They're a pain to make but they really help with the testing.