Test management is a challenge unto itself, especially in a high-stakes, fast-paced enterprise environment. But on the ground level, there are a few notable difficulties that testing leaders face on a regular basis, even in relatively high performing testing and QA operations.
It’s a new year, testing leaders can make an honest effort to understand these challenges and tackle them head on. Here are three common pain points that test managers face, and some tips on how to overcome them with confidence.
1. Inefficient testing practices: Every QA and development department, team and individual in the modern enterprise environment feels crunched for time. The reality is this is never going to change, so taking a proactive approach in becoming more efficient will help mitigate bottlenecks in testing, releases with bugs or missed deadlines when time is of the essence.
“Every test team faces hard deadlines.”
Taking a step towards becoming more efficient, team leaders can chip away at boosting efficiency of testing through introducing new technology, testing methodologies and by aligning these with new process and expanded reporting capabilities. On the technology side, tools such as enterprise test management software help testing teams more efficiently and effectively manage the testing lifecycle as well as provide the reporting capabilities that help team leaders identify inefficient bottlenecks within the testing lifecycle through improved reporting capabilities.
Making a testing methodology transformation such as moving from waterfall to agile is no easy task for Enterprise testing teams, however, introducing exploratory testing methodologies is perhaps one testing methodology that offers less friction with adoption and implementation. Team leaders that adopt and embrace exploratory testing realize efficiency gains through reducing manual documentation and increasing test coverage without sacrificing productivity.
2. Lack of documentation: Surprisingly, many enterprise testing projects lack ample documentation due to the sheer amount of time and energy that is involved with creating and managing testing documentation. Managers are faced with balancing tradeoffs between time, costs, features and quality so it’s not surprise that a robust documentation strategy has the tendency to lax. Given that managers are ultimately responsible for managing the details of testing projects as well as providing information such as estimates, progress and quality, below are some high level test planning documentation artifacts that can be used throughout testing project lifecycle:
Test strategy documentation – defining the strategic plan for what is going to be tested, the approach to testing and the plan to capture details around constraints, assumptions and risks for the testing efforts.
Test plan documentation – defining the goals and objectives for the project. This might include staffing, test coverage, requirements, test environments, scheduling and documentation on coordination and collaboration with other teams.
Test estimates – defining all the tasks needed to complete the outlined objectives and working backwards from the defined objectives to estimate the work required to complete each of the tasks.
Ultimately, creating and managing test documentation is certainly a challenge, however testing mangers can significantly benefit from having a robust test documentation strategy as it’s good way to:
Manage the details of a testing project – resources, time and costs.
Keep stakeholders informed throughout the projects progress.
Mitigate risks associated with delivery, quality and costs associated.
As David Johnson explained in an article for TechTarget, it is the “test lead’s job to communicate and implement effective managerial and testing techniques.” This means that if a manager does not have sufficient insight into how the methodologies their teams are using, testing is prone to risk and ongoing dysfunction. Therefore, the only testing tools that should be deployed are those with strong managerial visibility. Consider tools over process and people for gaining transparency and inefficient managing testing processes.
3. Insufficient process insight: Finally, test managers still using spreadsheets to track and measure process related metrics for continuous improvement struggle with a lack of transparency into the performance of the techniques and tactics of their testers are leveraging. If certain testers are not performing to their fullest potential, causing bottlenecks or bringing unwanted risk to the organization, managers should be able to quickly identify these issues and solve them, rather than waiting until it is too late. While spreadsheets can accomplish gaining insight through complex formulas and a ridiculous amount of time, SaaS based enterprise test management tools are an inexpensive way to gain transparency into the entire testing lifecycle.
At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong way for a test manager to approach these common challenges. However, an overhaul of software testing tools can be a sure way to set the operation back on track for success.