In a case of “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” some software project failures occur because of a lack of traceability — that is, an incomplete record of documentation around software quality assurance efforts.
The lack of traceability has a significant impact on QA testing effectiveness and meeting strategic goals. However, with optimal traceability, testing becomes more efficient and enables collaboration throughout the software development lifecycle, as well as between product owners and organization leaders.
Traceable data points across the testing process should:
- Ensure test elements remain in the queue as activity shifts from requirements gathering and analysis to creating testing scenarios, test-case development and test completion
- Inform development where problems are so they can proactively prevent future glitches
- Prove execution of each requirement of a testing strategy
- Suggest gaps in test design
- Speed feedback within the software development workflow, which can shorten cycle time overall and move software to market faster
- Integrate layered testing efforts
- Capture status on all tests and append logs for failed test cases.
Each multi-stage archived record builds efficiency in a user interface accessible to all stakeholders and helps the team glean insights that lead to continued improvements in application quality.
All Testing Methods Benefit from Improved Traceability
Traceability is beneficial to all development and testing teams, regardless of the development methodologies they use. With the waterfall method, business analysts, developers and testers contribute to project documentation. The record attests that all necessary business requirements make it into the project through analyst research and comprehensive queries. Back-and-forth between analysts and developers helps define final requirements. In the software development process, additional data prepares testers for software review, development rework, additional testing and subsequent approval.
With agile and DevOps methodologies, traceability can affect an organization as high as the C-suite. Companies using these software development disciplines tend to champion their methodologies all the way to the top, attracting senior management with intuitive visibility options that include traceability, coverage analysis and burn-down rate, a grade for software development efficiency.
Other data written to the traceability trail allows testers or managers to optimize critical requirement pass rates. Because not every requirement holds equal significance, a 90 percent pass rate on a project does not necessarily instill confidence — certainly not if the most critical component passed its test only half the time.
It helps to raise expectations of some tested elements over others and pay extra attention to reducing defect density on the most integral software specifications.
Beyond the Bubble of Software Development
Traceability’s main benefit is increased efficiency along the software development lifecycle. But the QA application-enabled record also lends value outside of the explicit development process.
It helps product owners set metrics around individual role performance, adherence to requirements and timelines, and other measures that contribute to a velocity report —an accounting of the actual effort your team expended vs. the effort estimated in the planning phase. Managers can use the metrics that traceability data inspires to establish software development benchmarks and drive more effective, collaborative best practices that may, ultimately, deliver higher revenues — either because teams can create and release more software in the same amount of time, or because the company’s reputation for quality builds its brand sales.
When a testing team adopts a QA platform for traceability and replaces spreadsheets, tables or matrices, testers and product owners gain clarity into process and solution flaws, as well as their origins.
To gain confidence in your test design and the alignment of QA efforts with software development requirements, consider the platform that will help you reach 100 percent coverage. QASymphony’s qTest Platform uncovers the value of traceability in creating and managing requirements, defining test scenarios, adding test cases as necessary, running QA and reporting defects.
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