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How to Use Decision Table in Software Testing

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We test software to see if the actual results match the expected results for which we built the software. In testing, there is no single case scenario to test the software. Usually, any interface would deal with multiple scenarios, and the software would react in a designated manner to give desired results. This is where a decision table comes in handy for the software testers out there. A decision table helps the tester to do a qualitative inspection of the software in a highly systematic manner while testing multiple use cases.

Understanding the Decision Table

In simple words, we can term a decision table the ‘black box’ of software testing. Whenever complex user logic is to be applied in software, the tester can make use of the decision table to input multiple scenarios and get their respective outcomes. The tabular format is highly flexible and customizable.  Decision tables are not only useful for software testers, but for the developers too. They help in stating a complex business rule in a simple, systematic manner by analyzing different scenarios related to the business rule. It is a tabular representation to specify the action to be performed in a particular scenario. 

How does a blank decision table look like?

ScenariosInput 1Input 2Input 3Input 4
Scenario 1

Scenario 2

Scenario 3

Scenario 4

Using a Decision Table in Software Testing

The contents of the decision table vary depending on the use case. However, there are specific rules that apply to all the scenarios:

  1. Define the function or business scenario for which a set of scenarios will be applicable;
  2. It is essential to narrow down the scenarios to avoid too many outputs, and else the business case will become too complicated for software testing;
  3. If for a software, you need to test a vast number of conditions, you can form a subset for these conditions and table for each sunset;
  4. The inputs or steps in the table are in the form of a ‘Yes” or ‘No” action;
  5. Once the inputs are filled, the tester can get combinations in the multiples of two (depending on the number of scenarios);
  6. We can drive the output basis the combinations of inputs (where the assumption is always that the user will fill the input fields).

What decides table so Significant in Software Testing?

Apart from being a highly systematic method to get output for multiple case scenarios, there are many other advantages of using a decision table. Here’s a look at the factors that add to the importance of a decision table in software testing:

  • As compared to other testing methods, a decision table is straightforward and can help users simplify complex business cases;
  • We can use it as a blanket method as it can comprehensively cover all test cases;
  • As opposed to writing and rewriting different test scenarios and reworking on each scenario, the decision table enables the testers to club the scenarios together into subsets and test them at the same time. This helps in saving time, efforts, and costs involved in software testing.
  • Decision tables can be used by any tester, regardless of their experience level. This makes them easy for access and reliable for results;
  • These tables help the developers to take the right calls for software development basis the output derived for multiple scenarios;
  • For many complex business cases, it is impractical to test each scenario individually. With a decision table, they can test these complex cases with ease and convenience.

In conclusion, decision tables have helped in simplifying complex business scenarios. They are helpful in generating outputs for multiple cases that can a reference by the developers and by the business strategists. 

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