A Simple Guide to Interoperability Testing

Interoperability testing is one of the types of non-functional testing which ensures the interoperability quality of the software. The term ‘interoperability’ might be heard by you, but if you actually aware of the term. Many of us derive or interpret incorrect meaning of the word – interoperability. So, before discussing the interoperability testing, first we try to know the correct and exact meaning of the word interoperability.

What is interoperability?

In general, interoperability is the ability of a system to work and interact with other systems and applications. Interoperability may be defined as the property or ability of a system to provide and accept features from other system or application. Interoperability quality provides independence in interacting, sharing and exchanging data and information with other system, without interrupting the intend functionalities.

Consider the example of banking application system. A banking application needs to interact, exchange and share data and information with the application of other bank or same bank but different branch or any third party/merchandise vendor for the purpose of financial and business transactions.

A user made a financial transaction at XYZ bank from his account to transfer some amount of money to other account of ABC bank. The banking applications of both the banks incorporated with interoperability features interacts with each other independently without interrupting their intended functioning, and shares and exchanges data and information, such as account numbers, credentials, beneficiary name, bank branch, IFSC code, amount of money and other relevant information with each other to carry out the financial transaction/transfer of money.

Now, what is interoperability testing?

Interoperability testing is a form of non-functional testing to achieve and maintain interoperability traits in the system. This form of testing is done to ensure end-to-end functionality between two interacted system based on their specified standards and protocols i.e. irrespective of standard, protocols followed by two systems to execute their intended function, they interact independently to share and exchange data and information.

Further, interoperability testing is used to verify and validate and data loss, incorrect and unreliable operations, and unreliable performance between the two systems.

How to perform interoperability testing?

Interoperability testing may be carried out through following steps in the subsequent manner.

  • Step 1: In first step, proper planning and strategy need to be define and describe. The planning and strategy involves the understanding of each application present in the network, including behaviour, response, functionalities and input taken, output generated of each and every application. Thus, the network of applications is to be considered as one single unit.
  • Step 2: Implementing certain approaches and techniques like requirement traceability matrix (RTM) to map each requirements with that to test case, and thereby eliminating the scope of any unvisited or left requirement. Test plans and test cases are derived and developed. Further, some essential non-functional attribute of the network of applications such as security and performance also needs to be verified and validated before executing the interoperability tests.
  • Step 3: Executing interoperability test cases with the subsequent activities of logging the defects, correcting the defects, retesting and regression testing after applying patches.
  • Step 4: Evaluating the test results with respect to RTM, to ensure complete coverage of the requirements and no requirements has been left out.
  • Step 5: Documenting and reviewing the approaches, steps and practices used in the testing, to further improve the testing process so as to get accurate and quality results.

What are challenges faced in the interoperability testing of the application?

  • Testing all applications generates a good amount of possible combinations which are difficult to test.
  • Differences between the environment where application is being developed and where it is installed may affect testing, in case any of the environments goes down.
  • Different environment issue also needs unique test strategy to encompass the need and features of both the environment.
  • Applications will be connected in network, thus adding network complexity to it would makes the task of testing even more difficult.
  • Root cause analysis, if defect is located.

Solution to these challenges in Interoperability testing:

  • Testing techniques and approaches like orthogonal array testing (OATS), cause effect graph, equivalence partitioning, bva and other similar approaches may prove beneficial in mapping the requirements independently with that to test cases so as to provide and ensure maximum test coverage.
  • Going through past information and data to study and analyse the conditions under which system crashes or breakdown and to estimate in how much it recovers from failure.
  • Making use of the above stated study to prepare proper plan and strategy.


Interoperability testing is not an easy task to execute, but with the proper planning and strategy along with the information, data and experience gained from the past, interoperability testing guarantees the system’s interoperability quality to interact uninterruptedly and independently with other systems and applications.

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