The Hidden Treasures of Reducing Documentation in Test Management

hiddenDocumentation is an essential piece of the software testing puzzle. When done correctly, documentation forms a complete history of the software testing process, packed with detail about the nature of each test and the results as recorded by the person doing the testing, whether it’s a professional tester, developer, project manager, end user, etc.

Unfortunately, many organizations have tedious documentation practices that slow down the agile development process. Effective project leaders need to find ways to cut down on the inefficient and time-consuming aspects of documentation while retaining the most critical aspects that help improve software quality. Here are three benefits of reduced documentation that testers should keep in mind.

Faster Time to Market

While robust documentation is always a valuable asset, too much of a good thing can be detrimental, especially when it comes to the pace of the testing process. In an agile testing environment, end users need to focus on the task at hand – doing thorough testing of the application – rather than the archiving and organizing of information. The sooner testers can get back to their main objectives, the faster the project will finish.

“Document archives are critical for ongoing analysis.”

Expediting the documentation process is about automating and streamlining tasks that would typically take a great deal of extra time and energy. An ideal enterprise software testing tool will enable exploratory testing where the tester can record and document each step of the test cycle automatically, rather than forcing the tester to do everything manually. This results in a speedier, more focused testing process overall.

[related blog post: Exploratory Testing Tools: qTest eXplorer or HP Sprinter?]

The recorded documentation of the test creates a much better tool for testers to use when sharing application defects and issues with the development team. Developers won’t be able to simply say “I can’t recreate the defect” due to a lack of detail in the manual documentation. The recorded documentation provides robust detail of all the information captured during the test, including information about the environment where the test was conducted. This eliminates the back-and-forth between tester and developer, making the process more efficient.

Risk Management

Speed is important in the testing process, but perhaps more critical is the assessment and management of risk factors that can arise in documentation processes. Although most companies track the stages of their tests and document them in some capacity, few actually refine this strategy to avoid redundancies and inaccuracy.

“Most companies do not give even a little importance to the documentation as much they give to software development process,” explained Software Testing Help blog contributor Tejaswini Patil.

In other words, documentation practices can invite more risk than they mitigate, due to excessive manual input and a reliance on human precision. Of course, errors in documentation can lead to problems in the software itself. By introducing explanatory testing software into the mix, testing teams can combat these risks, ensuring that their documentation is always lean and accurate.

Documentation is key, but too many companies don't have a set of best practices. Documentation is key, but too many companies don’t have a set of best practices.

Improved Analysis

As Patil wrote in her piece for Software Testing Help, a central purpose of test documentation is its value in post-test analysis. Any team can benefit from the ability to access details from the footprint of the project and analyze how the software progressed from one stage to the next, especially those that are actively trying to improve their testing best practices.

Test managers should be able to easily organize, audit and share the information found in the documentation, as this will offer valuable insight into how testing teams operate. From there, project leaders can pinpoint strengths and shortcomings, then work to target these issues in a proactive manner through training or new techniques.

To summarize, documentation practices are far more significant in the testing process than they may appear on the surface. Testing teams can benefit greatly from the introduction of new QA testing tools that automate and streamline documentation. This is one advantage that no company can afford to overlook.

Looking to make the switch to a modern software testing tool? Check out this free on-demand webinar by Kevin Dunne, “Modern Software Testing: Thinking Beyond Quality Center”

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