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Do I Need New Software Testing Tools or New Processes?

software testing toolsNo one said agile software testing would be easy.

Don’t get us wrong – agile offers tremendous advantages over waterfall, including the potential for more effective, efficient enterprise test management. But achieving that state of affairs can be difficult, especially as companies make the initial shift away from waterfall.

If you’re a software testing leader, you need to figure out how to optimize your team’s efforts. To that end, you first need to recognize the current shortcomings. Most notably, should you focus on the software testing process, or do you need to embrace new software testing tools?

The need to improve

Let’s take a look at common agile software testing shortcomings first. In the broadest terms, there are two major issues that testing teams may run into.

  1. Subpar software quality: Naturally, this is the biggest and most obvious problem that software testing leaders need to confront. If the software produced is not meeting standards, something needs to change. Of course, this will often stem from other software development concerns, but testing certainly plays a major role – especially in agile environments.   
  2. Inefficiencies: Even if the software being produced is of sufficient quality, testing teams still need to deliver in terms of efficiency. Many business leaders continue to view software testing as a cost center, and while that’s certainly not accurate (in fact, effective testing can deliver huge cost savings and value), the fact remains that inefficiencies are a common drag in these areas.

If a testing team is struggling in either of those areas, that means it’s time to make some changes. The only question is, what to improve?

New tools needed

In many cases, the heart of the problem will lie in the simple fact that the testing team does not have access to high-quality agile testing tools.

It’s very easy to underestimate just how big of an impact agile testing tools can have. However, ask any software tester how he or she feels about, for example, using traditional spreadsheets for test case management. Spreadsheets are not designed specifically for agile software testing, and this leads to countless inefficiencies. A software tester may waste a tremendous amount of time searching for data, trying to organize documents, mixing up versions and so on.

All of this hurts not just testing efficiency, but also the quality of software ultimately produced.

You can learn more about the impact of outdated and nonspecialized software testing tools in our Executive Value Guide. For now, the biggest takeaway is that you can address many of your team’s most serious testing problems simply by giving testers the tools they need to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

Your testers need the right tools for the job at hand.

New processes needed

If your software team already has access to excellent agile testing tools and quality or efficiency problems persist, then the problems likely lay in the established processes.

These troubles can take many forms. To take one common issue, some software testing teams suffer from an excessive focus on documentation. Documentation is obviously important, but when this happens, team members may find that they don’t have enough time to devote to actual software testing. That can both hurt outcomes and undermine morale.

The best way to combat this and similar process problems is by looking at relevant metrics such as test coverage, the test progress curve and overall cost of testing, as highlighted in this blog.

Of course, if neither the processes nor the tools are the problem, then it may be time to look at the personnel. Make sure your software testers all embody the characteristics of a winning testing team.

Learn more about the impact of outdated and nonspecialized software testing tools in our Executive Value Guide.

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