Testing in Production: A Detailed Guide to Its Importance and Implementation Strategies

Testing in Production

When it comes to testing in production (TIP), many people often take it in the wrong way. They think that it implies releasing untested features or a product with a few defects and poor performance. 

However, this is not true. Testing in production is one of the most crucial aspects of the software development life cycle (SDLC). It involves testing new code changes in the production environment and not in the staging or testing environment. QA (Quality Assurance) engineers are actively encouraged to conduct production testing in many situations. 

In this article, we aim to introduce you to the concept of testing in production and discuss its types and benefits. 

What is Testing in Production? 

Testing in production refers to continuously testing an application in the production or live environment after deployment. It is apparent that the bugs emerge after the application is released to end users. QA engineers continuously monitor new changes to the source code and look for any possible bugs in the production environment. If they find any bugs, they take the correct measures and resolve them immediately. 

Though the testing team makes every effort and spends more time creating test suites and test automation systems, it is practically not possible to uncover all bugs in the staging or pre-production environment. In addition, it is pretty challenging to simulate the real-world software in the test environment completely. As a result, production testing has become an essential aspect of software development. 

Also Read: Complete Guide to Scriptless Test Automation

The Stigma Associated with Testing in Production 

The term ‘testing in production’ has carried a stigma because it may introduce new challenges and risks if not conducted properly, affecting the end users. 

However, this stigma stems from the misconception people have when they hear the term ‘testing in production’. They believe that it entails deploying untested features and hoping that they turn out as expected. Further, they think that this process is conducted without any best practices and the use of software. 

If production testing is not done properly or managed poorly, it may result in data loss, financial loss, and damaged reputation. Some other repercussions include: 

  • Severe legal consequences if sensitive data is not handled properly. 
  • Operational disruptions in case of high error rates or system failures. 
  • Reduced trust and reliability of the application due to poor security or disruptions. 

Now that you know the consequences of poor production testing. In order to avoid it, you must know what makes testing in production poor. Below is a list of them: 

  • Skipping other pre-production testing methods. 
  • Lack of proper backup strategy. 
  • Conducting production testing at inappropriate times. 
  • Difficulty in rolling back from faulty deployments. 

Is Testing in Production a Good Idea?

Yes, testing in production is a good idea in many cases. There may be scenarios where the QA team has no option other than production testing. Here are some of these scenarios: 

  • Designing the staging or production stage is impractical or not affordable. 
  • Requires real usage data and has no option other than turning to real users. 
  • Some types of testing produce better results in the production environment. 

Software applications may still have bugs that may pop up in the production stage, even if the QA team has a good testing strategy or leverages the best testing practices and cutting-edge tools. Testing the application in production will uncover such bugs and help you build trust in end users. 

Benefits of Testing in Production 

Generally, creating a staging environment that completely replicates the production environment is a pretty daunting and time-consuming task. As a result, many development teams include testing in production as a complementary phase to pre-production testing methods. 

Here are some potential benefits of testing code in production: 

  1. Improved Test Accuracy 

The primary benefit of testing in production is that the QA team gets accurate results, as they will test the application in the production environment. It ensures that the users will experience the same app functionality assessed in production testing, boosting the team’s confidence. 

However, when the QA team conducts tests in the staging environment, they may not get the exact or accurate results. The reason is that the elements of the staging environment may not have the exact data or configuration options that are used in the production environment. 

  1. Enhanced Development Frequency 

Testing in production enables the QA team to introduce new code changes, test them, and make them live instantly. Hence, it becomes easier for the Engineering teams to respond to user requests quickly and release changes as and when required. 

Moreover, production testing allows the QA team to safely deploy and roll back any code changes that may negatively affect end users. 

  1. Smooth Transition During Testing 

Production testing enables the QA team to determine how end users react to a specific feature. Further, they use A/B testing to collect user feedback and make changes to the feature accordingly. This helps them improve the user experience and build trust among end users. 

  1. Limited Damage 

Another benefit of testing in production is limited damage. The QA team can directly notice real-time defects and implement security measures. This certainly limits damage to the application. 

How to Do Testing in Production? 

Let us now shed light on some major techniques and methods used in production testing. 

  1. A/B Testing 

A/B testing is an experimentation process wherein the application’s entire user base is divided into two groups, A and B. The app’s current version is referred to as a control, whereas the app’s variation or modified version is called treatment or variation

This testing involves comparing the two app versions and analyzing which one brings more engagement. If the treatment does not drive more engagement, you can conclude that the changes you made do not work for end users. Based on this, you can make informed decisions. 

  1. Canary Releases 

According to Danilo Sato, canary releases refer to a technique of reducing the risk of introducing a new software version in production by rolling out the changes to a small subset of users before making them accessible to everyone. 

So, in a canary release, the development team rolls out a new version to a small subset of users. If anything goes wrong, they can roll back to the previous version without affecting the large user base. 

Now, you might be thinking about how A/B testing differs from canary releases. They both differ in terms of the intent. While A/B testing helps determine the interest of users in a new feature, canary releases serve as a risk mitigation tool. 

  1. Spike Testing 

Spike testing is a software testing type that evaluates the application’s behavior in case of sudden and extreme increase or decrease in the load. It determines the app’s ability or capability to handle the amount of traffic and its breaking point. 

Furthermore, spike testing determines the time it takes for the application to recover from unusual and challenging circumstances. Developers often use this testing method to verify the applications’ error-handling systems. 

  1. Feature Flagging 

Feature flagging is a software development practice that enables developers to turn the application’s features on or off (whether to expose features to users or not) without having to redeploy or change code in production. This helps them expose and turn off the desired feature to end users. 

  1. Application Monitoring 

Application monitoring is further categorized into real user monitoring (RUM) and synthetic monitoring. Real user monitoring involves monitoring the application when the actual humans (real end users) are interacting with it. This helps the QA team understand how the application handles real-world requests. 

On the other hand, synthetic monitoring refers to monitoring how the application responds to simulated requests. 

Both these categories of application monitoring have strengths and weaknesses and play a vital role in production testing. 

Best Practices for Production Testing

Here are some of the best practices for testing in production:

  • Use real browsers and devices. The production environment should be a real device-browser-OS combination. This is essential for ensuring that your application works as expected in the real world. Emulators and simulators fail to capture the complexities of real user interactions, rendering them ineffective for thorough testing.

    TestGrid provides comprehensive browser and device coverage for both manual and automated testing, ensuring that your website or app functions flawlessly across all platforms. With over 1,000 real browsers and devices, including the latest and legacy Versions, TestGrid empowers you to deliver a seamless user experience, regardless of the device or browser your users employ. Sign up now and start testing for free today!

  • Before diving into testing, create a comprehensive deployment strategy that outlines the types of tests, testing order, resource allocation, and communication plan for stakeholders. This ensures a controlled and organized testing process.
  • If you do encounter problems with your software in production, be prepared to roll back to the previous version. This will minimize the impact on your users.
  • Do loading time tests when traffic is high. Test applications during peak usage to ensure they can handle high traffic without crashing or slowing down.


Testing in production has become an inevitable aspect of the software development life cycle (SDLC). Today, millions of users are accessing specific software from different devices. Hence, uncovering and fixing all possible bugs in the staging or testing environment becomes impossible. This is where the role of testing in production comes into play. It allows the testing team to understand how a particular application behaves or functions with real data, requests, and users. 

Moreover, production testing yields multiple benefits, such as improved test accuracy, enhanced development frequency, and limited damage to the application. Hence, it complements the software testing pipeline and helps organizations release high-quality software.  

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. What are testing types in production? 

A/B testing, canary releases, spike testing, feature flagging, and application monitoring are a few major types of testing in production. 

  1. What is the difference between testing in production and staging? 

Testing in production involves assessing the application’s new code changes on the live or real user traffic. On the other hand, testing in staging involves evaluating the application in the replica of the original production setting.  

3. What are the risks of testing in production?

Testing in production can introduce bugs and errors in the application, which may further result in security loopholes and application failure. In addition, data loss or corruption is another major challenge or risk associated with testing in production.