Considerations for choosing enterprise software testing tools

When it comes to enterprise software testing, QA software selection is a cumbersome challenge since the requirements of test teams and managers can vary hugely from one to the next, even within the walls of a single organization. Without strong testing tools in place, collaboration breaks down, defects leak into production and software releases are delayed.

While there may not be a proven method for selecting enterprise software testing tools, there are a few key things that any project leader should take into consideration as he/she searches for new solutions to meet the needs of their team and organizational goals. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the main factors that decision-makers need to keep in mind as they map out criteria for enterprise software testing testing tools and make their selections to evaluate.

How does the team track bugs?
It may seem like an oversimplification, but without a clear understanding of how testers currently report and address software bugs, it will be nearly impossible to make an improvement using targeted software. In many cases, testing teams are fully capable of solving the problems in front of them, but the difficulty lies in tracking these issues over the long term, delegating responsibilities to other members of the team and reporting on progress to test managers and stakeholders.

In an article from TechTarget, contributors Matt Heusser and Michael Larsen recently explored this very issue, explaining that even the most reputable organizations use antiquated tools for software testing. For example, some teams manage bug tracking in Excel spreadsheets or word documents, creating great inefficiency for the testing team.

What needs to be done to ensure quality software testing?What needs to be done to ensure quality software testing?

Rather than scraping together piecemeal solutions, an organization can deploy dedicated bug reporting tools to gain control over this important aspect of testing. As Heusser and Larsen pointed out, companies that use this software are able to prioritize key tasks, track patterns over time and ultimately stay on top of core responsibilities. Therefore, test managers should consider introducing bug tracking and reporting tools – or simply revamping their current options – to raise the bar.

Can automation make a difference?
Regardless of the experience and expertise of a given team, there comes a time in every test cycle when the volume of work simply becomes too much to bear. This results in lost efficiency, reduced staff morale and a greater likelihood of human error. Even during periods of minimal production, software needs to be tested again and again to ensure no new bugs have made their way into the code. This is simply too much to ask of a typical testing team. For these reasons, automation can be a powerful asset for any test manager looking for an edge.

“Creating a small set of checks that runs frequently (sometimes as often as every hour), building the system, checking if any major path of functionality fails and emailing the team on failure are all capabilities that automated testing can provide,” explained the TechTarget contributors. “This tightens the feedback cycle, so programmers who introduce a major bug can find and fix it in the same day.”

“Automation can offer peace of mind.”

While Heusser and Larsen advocated for this “smoke test” approach to automation, they do remind testers that automation does not account for the user experience. Testers will still have to do substantial manual testing to make sure the application will actually work for the end user. Of course, automation should free up some testing time so the testers will be able to thoroughly explore the UI, allowing for a cleaner, more intuitive final product. Manual testing also gives the tester the freedom to be creative and find the hidden issues that the rest of the team might not see. Read this previous post about how manual testing can actually help improve employee retention.

Is the team testing everything?
The concept of test coverage may seem rudimentary, but many teams forget to thoroughly test their software, leaving far too much up to chance. As Heusser and Larsen pointed out, testers need to cover both the code and application sides of the software, and it is the gap between these two that is often overlooked. While some may not see this is a major issue, smart test managers will never risk leaving a critical error in their software.

Luckily, there are dedicated test management tools that pinpoint areas in the software that have not yet been thoroughly tested, helping to ensure that teams test the program to the greatest possible degree. Coverage tools may even help discover hidden problems faster. Combined with reporting tools that keep stakeholders in the loop, these solutions can make a massive difference in team performance and software quality.

Every test team will have different priorities when assessing QA software, but these three considerations will offer a solid foundation for improvement in any organization.

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