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Who should care about code coverage

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Code coverage tells us what percentage of our code is covered by tests. There are different code coverage types, and a well-tested codebase is usually (but not always) a well-structured codebase. However, your team can easily overlook code coverage, especially if they are unaware of its benefits and how it impacts their work. 

How the code coverage is related to your team’s job depends on their role. For example, for some people, it is a vital target they need to achieve no matter what. For others, code coverage is a way to monitor progress or guarantee the software meets technical and legal requirements.

This article will explore how code coverage impacts people in 5 different roles. So keep on reading, as we’ll see how these people should think about code coverage and how to integrate it into their day-to-day activities.

Software Tester

Software testers are responsible for designing, creating, and executing tests. They ensure that the software meets the different requirements and complies with the quality standards.

Software testers are vital for increasing code coverage. They understand that adequate code coverage is more than just a number: testing can only show the presence of errors, not their absence. As such, while a high code coverage doesn’t automatically guarantee quality by itself, low code coverage does ensure that the code has insufficient testing.

Plus, software testers also have the critical task of helping other team members understand the benefits of testing and explaining how code coverage helps them achieve their goals. For example, they can show that code coverage will help improve code quality and decrease downtime.

Software Developer

Software developers are responsible for building and maintaining the actual product. But, besides developing the features, they also need to be proactive and ensure multiple tests are in place.

They have the closest relationship to the code, knowing what happens at each line – after all, they were the ones who created the code. Software developers should use their knowledge to find gaps in code coverage. That way, they’re also creating robust code that the tests can cover more effectively.

Software developers can also improve their code’s reliability by guaranteeing good code coverage. As such, they’ll spend more time building new features than fixing bugs.

Project Manager

Project managers are responsible for developing the project plan, managing resources, and ensuring the team meets the project’s goals. They closely and effectively cooperate with developers, the product owner, marketing specialists, sales representatives, and other stakeholders.

Leadership roles have many responsibilities, including creating a culture where code quality is a priority. Project managers should give the necessary attention and resources to testing and code coverage. For example, increasing the amount of time dedicated to testing shows people it is important.

However, remember that one single metric, like code coverage, is not enough. Project managers should analyze the project as broadly as possible to understand its overall code quality better.

Product Owner

Product owners are responsible for the project’s outcome. They guarantee the product meets quality standards and seek to maximize its value by managing and optimizing the backlog.

Code coverage is an easy way for product owners to keep track of the bigger picture when it comes to quality. They can define a specific threshold of optimal code coverage to achieve – for most software, 80%-90% code coverage is an excellent score – and push for it. 

Product owners can also drive quality by ensuring that they recognize the right people for their work. Publicly acknowledging and rewarding those who hit code coverage targets will keep the team motivated and feel valued.

Software Auditor

Software audits are standard in many industries, especially when dealing with critical infrastructures or strict standards. A software auditor will make sure that your software complies with those regulations. Some examples include the PCI DSS or the ISO/IEC 27001:2013.

In some cases, checking if critical code is covered by tests is one of the main goals of the audit. This is true, for example, for LOGEX, a leading healthcare analytics company with the mission of turning data into better healthcare.

Code coverage is part of the auditors’ verification of the software quality. Of course, it’s just a part of it, but code coverage can show that developers are serious about finding problems in the code and measuring their improvement.

Conclusion

Several roles are involved in software development, but they all share the same goal: to build a successful product with excellent quality.

You can achieve this in different ways, but code coverage should be part of your process. It’s one of the metrics everyone can use to improve the overall quality of your software.

Code coverage advantages can spread across your entire team, improving everybody’s outcomes in the process. Testing benefits different engineers, product owners, auditors, and ultimately (and most importantly) your customers. So make sure you are using cove coverage in the best possible way.

If you’re looking for a static analysis tool that allows you to check your code quality and code coverage, and keep track of your technical debt, try out Codacy today.

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