Software companies with multiple testers and developers usually need a test cast management system to measure their testing efforts. Companies that have their teams isolated, or that have changed direction from their original plans, end up with various formats of test cases, stored in multiple incompatible tools.
Inevitably, management teams need information from those test case systems in order to report on projects, and it is nearly impossibly to find what is needed. It is even harder to make those test cases useful once they have been found because there is no simple way to measure and report coverage.
For some companies, investing in test case management might mean switching from Excel or Word to an enterprise level tool. For others, it is a matter of taking advantage of advanced features such as, reporting and coverage tools, and learning to product lighter and more useful documentation. Either way, the test group ends up with a more useful documentation system in place.
Let’s take a look at 3 ways to invest in test case management:
1. Move on From Excel
Testers often turn to products they already have access to, such as Excel, as their first test case management system. Using spreadsheets to store test ideas can be a good place to start. There are no barriers to entry since most business computers already have the product installed, and testers can start using the tool quickly without training.
However, problems arise when more than one person uses a spreadsheet for test case management. The result is many people working in different files, each with their own format. Knowing whether or not a test is up to date, and the ability to easily find a needed file becomes more challenging than it needs to be.
Test case management systems like qTest alleviate this source of frustration by creating a central repository for test ideas. Testers can log into the TCM, select the project they are working on, and easily access test ideas documented by other people or create new tests.
Teams that don’t have a test case management product have to write custom programs to create reports. These programs look at fields in each file to produce reports on how many total tests are available, how many tests have passed or failed, and how many bugs are associated with a particular test. Any change to the order of data in the Excel file breaks the reporting program. Alternatively, a manager could build a scorecard by hand, which will be out of date and lead to human error.
Most testing projects have attributes in common, such as bug reports, test ideas, and pass/fail rates. Test case management products take advantage of those similarities and remove the need to write custom reporting programs. Better reporting might help a manager discover that her testers are finding a lot of bugs on a new feature, or give insight into holes in test coverage so that a manager can make decisions about staffing.
3. Move Beyond Test Steps
Testers who spend time documenting test ideas can get the impression that there is nothing more to a test than telling the tester what steps to perform and what result to expect. Testers may habitually continue with this style even after they get a more powerful tool.
There are a few drawbacks of documenting steps:
Steps restrict how a person might perform a test
Every time the software changes the test steps must be updated to match the new software
Tests with detailed steps require a significant amount of time to create
Moving beyond highly detailed documentation helps testers take advantage of better tools. Instead of steps, a tester might write a brief paragraph about the feature they are testing, describing why a user would want it, what other parts of the software it is related to, and some information about data used to test it. This style of documentation describes the testing that was actually done, rather than having the tester follow instructions that were probably created before the software (and may no longer even work). Moving beyond test steps also removes most of the maintenance burden since there is very little detail about how to operate in the software.
Documenting test ideas without prescribing steps can result in more useful and efficient documentation; the challenge is creating a high-level test ideas, and making sure they map to a model of risk.
qTest is a great tool to help your team alleviate several of these pains, I am of course biased, but check it out for yourself with our 14 day free trial.