Stress Testing

From Open Risk Manual


Stress Testing is a general Risk Management term denoting any activity subjecting a system (whether be it physical, digital, financial etc.) to a set of tests the probe system behaviour and response under extreme, unusual conditions

Type of Stress Testing

  • Real Stress Testing: For systems where copies are readily available and dispensable (equipment, automobiles, etc.) stress testing subjects a copy to the actual desired stress conditions (e.g. temperature, pressure, crash testing etc.) and monitors / measures the outcomes of the test. For more on Hardware and Software stress testing see here
  • Hypothetical (Scenario based) Stress Testing: For systems where copies are not readily available or are not dispensable (e.g. concerning the soundness of financial institutions) stress testing is performed via analyses that construct an estimated response of the system to the hypothetical scenarios.


A stress testing always involves the following elements

  • The defined system under study (the scope)
  • The factors being targeted (it may or may not be possible to study factors in isolation)
  • The scenario (which explicitly or implicitly prescribes a range for the underlying factors
  • The monitored outcomes (which can be directly or indirectly translated into

By Business Sector

Issues and Challenges

  • Stress Testing is a narrower version of "Testing" but a testing framework may not always include considerations of performance away from normal operating conditions
  • The credibility of hypothetical stress testing is linked to the quality of the representation of the system and its modelled response. This can be difficult to establish, for the same reasons that force a hypothetical approach in the first place

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