If you’re planning your firm’s next software deployment, be it a document management system like NetDocuments or a practice management system like Elite 3E, then you’re going to want to ensure it installs, integrates and performs optimally.
In this regard, testing legal software is not dissimilar from testing any other type of software testing in any other environment, except that it necessarily pays closer attention to the specific requirements most firms have of their software platforms.
As a law firm manager or an IT manager responsible for the firm’s software and hardware environment, you’ll want to know that any new software will work with your existing hardware, perform optimally, be resilient under load, be compatible with other software already in use, and most importantly ensure maximum uptime, because in the legal industry, time is literally money.
Testing legal software can take on several forms, depending on what’s being tested:
- Testing the functionality of the software is typically done manually by functional testers, who put the software through its paces using a variety of common tasks to discover any issues that might come up in everyday use.
- Performance testing is a broad term for tests designed to push the software to its limits, ensuring it performs optimally under load – such as when a large number of concurrent users try to access the software at the same time. Unlike functional testing, performance testing can be automated using scripts, which makes it much more efficient and hands-free.
- When new features are added to the software, regression testing ensures they don’t break existing features or cause workflow disruption. Like performance testing, regression testing can mostly be automated to reduce the time needed to carry out specific tests and get the new features into production faster.
- Lastly, user acceptance testing is another form of manual testing, this time designed less to test the software for technical issues and more for discovering how well the software is received by the firm’s users. After all, the users are the ones who stand to benefit (or suffer) most from the new software, so it’s essential this last step in the testing cycle is properly conducted.
Other forms of testing can sometimes form part of the process, for example to test how well newer software systems integrate with legacy systems, or how different versions of the software perform on different devices, like mobile phones and tablets.
It’s important to note that software testing is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and just as every firm has its own unique challenges, processes, culture and business requirements. A holistic software testing solution is best achieved with a knowledgeable partner who not only understands software and testing, but is intimately familiar with the legal industry.