Plan and execute tests like a pro – Best practice guide

By 30th July 2018 Testing

Test management is a practice of organizing and controlling the process and artifacts that are required for software testing. Test management has become more complicated as it not only involves planning, developing, executing, and assessing all testing activities but also involves tracking dependencies and relationships among test assets. The effectiveness of the test management practice can be deduced by defining, measuring and tracking quality goals. This guide will introduce the concepts and best practices to improve test management outcomes.

Test management process can be classified into 5 different phases: organization, planning, authoring, execution, and reporting.

Test Planning

In test planning phase, the set of tasks are defined to identify what to test, why to test, when to test and where to test. The application that is to be tested is broken down into many test cases. The software and hardware configurations required are determined and documented. The time when the application will be tested is known by tracking iterations to the testing.

Test Authoring

This phase involves documenting the specific steps that are required to perform a given test. The abstract test cases from the previous step are developed into detailed test steps which will become the test scripts. This phase gives an answer to how something will be tested.

Test Execution

The test execution phases involve running the tests by assembling sequences of test scripts into a suite of tests.  The actual testing is conducted in this phase.

Test Reporting

This phase helps to determine the status of project testing as well as the quality of the application or system under test.  These results of the testing efforts are analyzed and communicated.

The end result of all the phases of testing is producing data that are called bugs or defects or issues. The development, as well as the testing team, is responsible for eliminating these defects.

Test Management challenges

The challenges that can derail the test management process are as follows:

Time constraints

The increasing adoption of Agile and DevOps approach implicates there is not enough time for testing. Due to the short “test cycles”, it’s difficult to manage constantly changing priorities and shifting focus on tasks. There are fewer data available for test results and quality metrics.

Lack of test resources

To make appropriate hardware resources available for testing can be challenging. The shortage of human resources can add up to the test management woes. Getting the right resources at the right time for testing can be difficult. Sharing the resources can be of help but it adds to the resource management hassles as well.

Distributed testing teams

The cost-benefit of distributed teams has introduced more obstacles in the test management process.  One of the key challenges with distributed testing teams is sharing the test artifacts and collaborating on the testing process.

Dealing with requirements

The requirements evolve during the course of the project which makes testing more complicated. Testing requires validating the requirements to ensure that they are complete, unambiguous, and testable requirements.  There is also a need for communication and coordination among the team developing the requirements and team testing.

Coordination with development

The testing team needs to keep up with the frequent changes in code, builds, and environments. The testers also need to communicate the bugs found to the development team. The testers and developers can no longer work in silos but they need a higher level of collaboration. Failure to keep the development and testing team in sync can add up to the test management challenges.

Reporting accurately

It’s difficult to present the right information at the right time to the right people. The test reporting involves conveying the testing status and measures of quality for the project. There can be chances of non-availability of information or on the other hand surplus information with no way to deduce meaningful insights.  Lack of a proper tool for exchanging test reports can make the test management process inefficient.

Best practices for test management

Following are the best practices to improve your test management outcomes:

test management planning execution

Start early

The test management process should begin as soon as possible. Although identifying the test resources at an early stage can be difficult but the identification of high priority test cases can be done. With the development of use cases, the test procedures can be derived. In the absence of use cases, the tests can be derived from the validation of initial requirements. Developing the tests early on helps in overcoming the challenges posed due to time constraints.

Test iteratively

Testing iteratively helps to generate testing artifacts and results early on in the project lifecycle. For effective test management, it is recommended to organize the various test artifacts and resources for iterations. This facilitates planning for the changes, delays and unforeseen events effectively. It’s a risk-based approach to deal with these challenges timely.

Reusing test artifacts

While working under the pressure of limited time and limited resources, reusing test artifacts within a project or across a project can improve the efficiency of the testing team. Not only those artifacts that are used in test automation can be reused but also test procedures and planning information can be reused. An effective test management process involves creating test artifacts in such a way that they can be reused easily.

Requirements-based testing approach

In the requirements-based testing approach, the application is validated on the basis of what it is supposed to do. This type of testing is less subjective as compared to exploratory testing but it utilizes carefully developed tests to validate requirements. This approach can be applied to both traditional and use case requirements.

Remote testing resources

A proper tooling strategy is required to leverage remote testing resources. A good solution for this is a test management tool that simplifies coordination among geographically distributed teams.  A cloud-based tool allows distributed teams to have a common platform for sharing information anytime and from anywhere.  The data is synchronized automatically across locations.

Flexible testing process

The test management process should be customizable and flexible in order to automate workflows. The process must be repeatable in order to render predictability. There should be room for making revisions and adjustments, especially in iterative projects.  As different projects have different specific needs, defining and enforcing a flexible testing process will help to optimize testing to meet the changing needs.

Coordination & integration with development

There are different facets of software development which includes requirements and change management.  For successful testing, it’s imperative to have effective collaboration among different process roles and activities.  This needs a tool that supports the integration of the different aspects of a project. Without an effective coordination, the quality of the system or application being developed gets hampered due to untested code, missed defects and misunderstood requirements.

Result oriented testing

The quality goals must be defined beforehand for the project. Test management helps to measure such goals and defining specific outputs of the testing process. This result-oriented approach helps to track the status and results of the testing efforts.  The test management results should be stored in a common repository to be analyzed easily. This also helps in version control of test artifacts to maintain up-to-date information. The test results of testing efforts facilitate decision making.

Test automation

There are many test automation tools which help to automate the test management process.  These tools are time-saving and help in improving testing outcomes. The test management tools help to track the relationship of testing to requirements. They facilitate organizing test cases and reusing them.  A good test management tool helps to document test configurations. They help in planning and coordination of test execution across multiple builds and applications.  A test management tool allows calculating test coverage and generates various reports.

Conclusion

Following the above mentioned best practices helps in improving the efficiency of testing. A good test management tool is important to align and integrate different aspects of software development and testing.

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