Risk - Based Testing – Matrix, Approach,Process and Examples

Software TestingAutomation TestingTesting Tools

Agile testing is one of the most widely used developments and testing methods worldwide. Since agile testing is all about speed, you may have already understood its necessity in this ever-evolving competitive marketplace. However, it takes an immense amount of time to execute it properly. Since most agile sprints could last for weeks, we don’t have enough time to east every program feature. With each step of development, the testing process becomes more complex. Therefore, it’s unviable to run thousands of tests simultaneously. Therefore, most testers prioritize their testing needs accordingly.

This is where risk-based testing comes to the action.

What is Risk-Based Testing?

Risk-based testing (RBT) refers to the designing and execution of test scenarios at their earliest. In this process, testers identify top business risks that could negatively impact the business. In other words, you have to test all at-risk features of software earlier and take the necessary steps to mitigate the risks.

The negative impact can impact the business in many ways, leading to unnecessary costs, bad user experience, and customer dissatisfaction, and may even lead to customer loss.

RBT ensures that even if customers encounter an issue within a software, they want to continue using it. As a result, it won’t affect the business’s productivity.

Risk-based testing finds out the functionality failures of a program in advance. It involves steps to calculate how much cost and damages a company will endure if a certified application function fails. Then each feature or functionality is ranked and dealt with accordingly.

Preparation for Risk-Based Testing

Regardless of how much you design and execute tests on software, you can never be 100 percent sure whether a defect will pop up now and then. Merely increasing the number of tests is not going to increase the software stability. Therefore, you need to focus on things that your customer actually expects from the release.

The key is to maintain a balance to provide maximum benefits to customers while keeping your testing efforts within reason. This is of equal importance in situations where you have limited resources and a timeline to conduct the testing process and release the software.

The RBT approach helps optimize the QA effort and maximize testing benefits while keeping the risk to the minimum. Consequently, it gives more relief to QA as they do not have to burn their midnight oil fixing S4 and P4 defects (explained below); considered the lowest prosperity and severity in testing. Instead, they can invest their time in better aspects of the project.

Key Points of Risk-Based Testing:

  • Focus on ‘what customers want with the perspective of a business

  • Finish the process within the allotted time while maintaining the quality

  • Optimize the efforts of QA

When is the right time to use the Risk-Based Testing approach?

Testers conduct Risk-based testing when they have to complete a project within a specific time, cost, and resources. RBT can help optimize and prioritize resources, ensuring to complete the whole process within a set time and cost.

You can also use RBT to reduce your burden when dealing with a complicated project, especially an R&D project where the risks are unknown, and adopt new technology.

The approach of Risk-Based Testing

A risk-based analysis is used in the IT industry to mitigate risks associated with production and its impact. It includes procedures such as identifying the crucial elements and assessing its risk followed by taking necessary steps to lower or mitigate these risks. It involves tests like prioritization of functionalities and preparing a risks assessment matrix.

Prioritization and Risk Assessment Matrix

The risk assessment matrix or probability impact matrix helps the project team see the associated risks and gives enough information to prioritize them accordingly.

Risk rating= probability X severity

The probability here refers to the chances of an uncertain event in terms of time, repetition, and proximity. It is expressed in percentage.

Probability (P) is classified into A, B, C, D, E, and F.

  • Frequent (A): It means the event may appears frequently. (>90 %< =100%)

  • Probable (B): The events are likely to occur frequently. (>60 %< =90%)

  • Occasional (C): Events may occur sometimes. (>40 %< =60%)

  • Remote (D): Events are less likely to occur or may occur sparingly. (>11 %< =40%)

  • Improbable (E): Events may occur in rare cases. (>=0 %< =10%)

  • Eliminate (F): Impossible to occur.

Severity here refers to the degree of damage an uncertain event can cause to the business. There are classified into 1 to 4. 

  • Catastrophic (1) − This implies that the extremely harsh consequences make the project unproductive and may even lead to a complete shutdown. Therefore, it is regarded as a top priority in risk management.

  • Critical (2) − The project is a threat, and the consequences could lead to great losses. 

  • Marginal (3) − The damage is short-term and reversible when taken necessary steps.

  • Negligible (4) − An uncertainty may cause little to no damage. You can easily monitor and manage them.

Priority is classified into four categories: serious, high, medium, and low.

  • Serious − All activities must be stopped to isolate the risk immediately. The team must identify effective controls and implement them as earliest as possible. No action shall continue until the risk goes down to low or medium.

  • High − Must implement efficient risk controls to isolate, eliminate or substitute the risk. If unable to contain the threat immediately, then the team must set stringent timelines to resolve them.

  • Medium − Team must take reasonable and practical steps to minimize the risks.

  • Low − Such risks usually do not pose any major issues. A periodical review is sufficient.


Risk-based testing is one of the most efficient ways to integrate agile principles in software testing. The major role here is of the QAs. They have to prepare a quantifiable parameter to identify which functionalities must be tested first. They have to build a hierarchy of tests considering the best interest of the business.

Updated on 30-Oct-2021 11:52:33