Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Testing?

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, than you know that I am a big proponent of testing. I use the phrase ‘Always Be Testing’ more than I probably should.

Recently, a reader sent in a question that caught my eye. She asked, “Is there such a thing as too much testing?”

Though my immediate reaction was to say “no”, I had to admit that that would have been wrong. Of course there is such a thing as too much testing. Too much of anything is bad, right?

But instead of leave it there, I decided to dive deeper into the question. If there is such a thing as too much testing, how much is it? How do we know if we’re guilty of too much testing?

I started with the objective – why we test. We test things in order to improve performance. Therefore we prioritize those tests that are A) simple – meaning they require limited resources, and B) have the greatest potential impact. From there, we look at things that are not as simple but still big impact potential.

For most companies, that is a lot of testing. There are probably enough tests to run in those two categories that you will never run out of tests.

But let’s imagine you do. Next you start to look at things that are simple, but don’t have big impact potential. That is the point when you should ask yourself if it is worth testing. If the potential lift in performance from testing is not as much as some other activity, that test is not worth it.

So when you start to prioritize tests over other activities that have more potential to help the company, that is too much testing. As with anything else, you have to manage tests alongside all other uses of your time and your team’s time, and prioritize those things that have the greatest potential.