A User Guide to Mastering Test Management with qTest

Here at QASymphony, we like to talk to our users as much as we can. These discussions typically provide insight into a variety of things, including challenges facing testers, new trends in testing, what users need from their testing tools, what users like and don’t like about their testing tools and so on.

I recently had one such conversation with an organization that had just made the move to qTest for its test management needs, and that conversation proved a very interesting look into why the organization chose qTest, what they see as the benefits and how they’re using it already. Here’s what I learned.

A Bit of Background on qTest

I won’t go into too many details in this post because if you want to review all of the awesome capabilities that qTest offers, you can check them out here. But I do want to provide a bit of background on the “why qTest?” question.

Some of the most common reasons that we hear in response to why organizations choose qTest are:

  • The variety of enterprise-level testing, reporting and integration capabilities it offers, all of which lead to greater efficiency, transparency and collaboration.
  • Its ability to paint the entire testing picture, from Waterfall to Agile methodologies and even into the up-and-coming DevOps trend.
  • The fact that it allows for centralization of testing without having to standardize all of the different tools enterprises are using throughout the software development lifecycle.
  • Its lightning fast, smooth, intuitive and overall easy-to-use interface that still packs the full punch of functionality, with features such as parameterization and embedded testing.
  • The fact that it’s a SaaS solution, which means it provides anytime, anywhere access to the entire solution (not a modified version of it) without any additional remote support requirements.
  • Its reliable speed and uptime as well as the high caliber of customer support offered by the QASymphony team.

Getting Started with qTest for Test Management

Of course choosing a test management tool like qTest is only one piece of the bigger picture. You also have to get the solution implemented and then get running with it, and these are not things you can take for granted. Looking at qTest, in particular, let’s review exactly what all of these “getting started” activities entails.

Requirements Gathering for qTest for Test Management

During the tool selection process (and even into the implementation process), it’s important to do your due diligence when it comes to understanding what your needs are and how different tools support those needs. This due diligence is often known as requirements gathering.

One of the most important pieces of the requirements gathering process is evaluating how different solutions will fit in with your existing technologies. As the number of tools available to aid in the entire software development lifecycle increases, it’s critical to make sure that any new tools you add play nicely with what you already have in place.

That’s why qTest natively integrates with numerous tools. For example, qTest has a real-time integration with JIRA, which is increasingly becoming one of the most popular tools used by software development and testing teams.

Implementing qTest for Test Management

When it comes to implementing a new solution, you need a support team from your new partner on which you can count.

For a tool like qTest, that means you not only need to get the technology implemented (which is very easy due to the ability to switch trial instances to production instances so that you can stand up your new instance in seconds and retain all of your proof of concept data), but you also need to develop a good relationship with your support team and develop a strategic vision for how you will use the new solution.

As a result, during the implementation phase it’s important to follow a clear roadmap and have regular meetings with your support team to ensure everything is going smoothly on both ends.

Leading Training and Change Management for qTest for Test Management

Next, training and change management are essential for getting your users into the system. These efforts should include conducting hands-on training to get users up to speed on the system and sharing regular communications to update users on important milestones and timelines for the new solution.

Additionally, it’s important to make clear how the new system will benefit users, as the answer to this “what’s in it for me?” question will make all the difference when it comes to adoption. Looking at qTest, in particular, some of the most common benefits teams find are:

  • Increased efficiency and productivity 
  • Reduced friction
  • Improved accuracy
  • Enhanced collaboration
  • Easier access to data
  • More seamless integrations
  • Simplified planning and defect management processes
  • Improved visibility and reporting
  • Better scalability and reliability
  • Intuitive user interface

At the end of the day, these change management efforts should let users know why you’re making the change, what the change entails, how it will benefit them and the organization and when these changes will be taking place.

Additionally, implementing a new tool provides the unique opportunity for a bit of self-reflection to identify inefficiencies and improve processes. It is essential that you take advantage of this opening to fully leverage all of the newly implemented tool’s capabilities. As you do so, don’t be afraid to lean on your partner’s implementation and training teams for best practices.

Hitting the Ground Running with qTest for Test Management

Once you have qTest implemented and your users are on board, it’s time to get started, and this is where the real fun begins. From developing test plans to creating test cases to executing and reporting on those test cases, let’s take a look at what you can do to hit the ground running with a test management tool like qTest.

Developing a Test Plan

Once you get inside qTest, the first area of interest is typically “Test Plan,” which is where you can start a project based on releases and requirements.

Within Test Plan, you can sub-divide and nest different activities as needed to provide a high level overview of your test plan, including timelines, relevant details, requirements, key drivers for test phases, etc.

As your team looks to build out standards and best practices for the various types of releases you follow, Test Plan offers a clean and efficient way to capture the requirements and display information like capability notes, attachments and linked cases directly from those requirements. These efforts help establish the fundamental ground layer of traceability across testing efforts.

Next, qTest allows you to create test cases directly from the requirements, so that users don’t have to navigate to a different screen to create test cases.

In addition to offering the flexibility to create test cases directly from requirements, qTest also allows you to add attachments and other data, including history and comments, to your requirements. You can even add in an unlimited number of custom fields from a variety of field types, which allows you to align any current testing methodology or unique labeling system directly to qTest.

Notably, all of these requirements and associated notes and data are located uniquely within particular projects, so they don’t automatically push to every project. This setup allows you to create unique environments for every project or release. Some teams have even started to capitalize on this capability as a requirements repository so that everyone has easy, anywhere access to requirements across all projects.

Creating Your Test Cases

After diving into Test Plan, it’s time to navigate over to “Test Design,” which is where you can start building your tests.

Any structure around requirements that you build in the requirements section automatically gets replicated in the Test Design section, which makes it easy to start creating test cases the correspond to the requirements they need to test.  Each test case allows you to insert step descriptions, and excepted results.  However, you can also leverage the test data parameters in order to data drive your test case creation. 

In addition to allowing users to create Test Cases directly within the tool, qTest also boasts an intuitive import wizard that’s capable of importing test cases from Excel sheets either as net new objects or as changes to existing objects. This “offline mode” enables valuable input from key stakeholders who might not have access to the tool.

You can also import any test automation scripts from script location so that you can leverage our Automation Scheduling functionality.  For example, I could scan a list cucumber .feature files from my automation server and pull them into Test Design for management and scheduling.

Once your Test Design library has been built out, the next step is to run these test cases in the Test Execution Module.

Executing Your Test Cases

The Test Execution section of qTest, with its intuitive, entirely configurable and sleek UI, is one of the areas that really sets the qTest platform apart from the pack.

As the name suggests, the Test Execution section of qTest allows you to execute on your test cases (Manual, Automated, or Exploratory). It allows you to assign certain test cases to different projects or releases and provides you with an entire spectrum of execution granularity, whether you are quickly executing a test run or launching the test pad to associate a result status with each individual test step.

What to see how top performing QA teams scale their test automation?  Read these qTest API cases studies to get inspired on your automation journey.

qTest also provides a number of different options for running the tests, including a “quick run,” which runs through the test quickly and allows you to look at the test and mark it holistically as a pass or fail, a “retest of defects,” which allows you to test only areas that were previously marked as defects, and the list goes on. When it comes to determining which of these options is right for your needs at any given time, you might ask: What are you testing? How quickly do you want to test it? How important is the test (e.g. are you looking at something that’s regulated)? Do you want to save a lot of data from the test?

Exploratory and Session Based Execution

qTest also allows you to follow a standard script test execution or run a session-based test by using qTest Explorer and the Sessions Module. Looking at standard executions, you can run scripted tests in a traditional way and then review the results, which might look something like “pass, fail, pass, pass, fail…”

When it comes to session-based testing, you can actually move a lot faster because you don’t have to write out scripted tests step by step and line by line to provide every detail about the expected result and the actual result. Essentially, the session-based testing capabilities allow you to do more testing and reporting because they enable you to capture live ad-hoc sessions and even generate scripted tests from the exploratory tests to generate your test cases. When you see any “fail” results, you can open the bug, create a brand new defect straight from the test, automatically generate and populate the defects and add any attachments.

When you execute tests this way, qTest will record the sessions. These recordings can include annotations, highlights or markings to show areas with which you’re unhappy and a full voice-over that matches up with the video to explain to developers what happens as you run the tests. These annotation, marking and voice-over capabilities make it easy to illustrate to developers (or whoever will be picking up defects) where the issues are and what you’re experiencing during testing. Once you’ve finished the recording, you can send it to the developer and any other stakeholders and they can play through the test to see any annotations or markings you made and hear any voice-over narration you did. This recording is an excellent way to bring efficiency to the defect resolution process and allows testers and developers alike to more closely analyze defects to better understand the circumstances that are producing them.

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Reporting on Your Tests

Once you run your tests, you can then do reporting within qTest through qTest Insights. The reporting capabilities within qTest Insights eliminate the challenge of reviewing and managing raw, complex data and trying to turn that data into something consumable by spending hours building out reports in Excel.

Quite the contrary, qTest Insights provides timely access to data by dynamically mining all of the data from your test progress and presenting it in a dashboard. The result is a visual-friendly review of real-time test metrics.

Best of all, the data is designed to be actionable, as it’s displayed in heat maps and interactive charts. This interactivity allows you to drill down as far as necessary to see things like which areas still need testing. Furthermore, if you click on a certain item, it will take you to the exact test case, defect, etc. that it references within qTest Manager.

And this data is also shareable, as you can build reports and schedule them to be emailed out to certain users on a regular basis. This capability makes it easy to provide the necessary level of visibility and transparency into testing activities with stakeholders across the organization since even users outside the QA environment (i.e. those without licenses) can access the reports.

Notably, qTest Insights allows you to review data beyond just the project level. Specifically, you can aggregate data from any number of projects to provide different viewpoints of data from a higher level. Essentially, this capability allows you to review and report on various projects simultaneously to get a collective sense of how testing is going. This type of view is particularly useful for managers who want to look at testing progress across the board.

While you can always add custom dashboards as needed, qTest Insights starts off with three main categories for dashboards:

  • Quality, which shows the latest test run results, test results by day and defect status.
  • Coverage, which shows a heat map that indicates what’s passed, what’s failed, where defects exist and which requirements don’t have coverage or haven’t had any tests executed.
  • Velocity, which shows how the actual execution compares to the test plans, including your defect open to close ratio and burn downs of new requirements.

Reviewing Defects

Should your testing surface any defects in the software, you can use qTest to review those defects quickly and easily.

Specifically, qTest allows you to see a list of live defects and click on any one of them for more details. Once you click for more details, you can see a screenshot of the defect, a description of it and a history of comments.

Building Queries to Understand Data

Whether you want to better understand complex defect data, search for requirements or test cases or anything else, you can always use qTest’s powerful query builder, which allows you to build multi-nested clauses to dive deep into the system. While qTest has a powerful SQL engine behind the scenes, its data query tool offers a code-less UI.

Once you’ve built a query and have the view that you want, you can share the results of that query with your team as well as the query itself so that others can use it when they need to without having to re-build it.

Ensuring Team-Wide Collaboration and Visibility

qTest’s notifications and RSS feed make team-wide collaboration on all of these efforts easy. For example, the notifications box provides notifications of what’s changed across the system and users can tag one another to ensure specific people get notified when changes are made.

Beyond notifications within the system, if you want to keep track of any specific test cases or requirements, you can set up an external notification system based off qTest events. This system will then trigger emails to a determined group of individuals when the designated events happen within the qTest platform.

Managing Integrations

Of course no matter how good a solution is, its value is limited if it lives in a silo, and that makes integration capabilities of utmost importance.

For testing teams, some of the most commonly integrated toolsets include Rally, JIRA and eggPlant, and qTest integrates with those out of the box. qTest also integrates natively with several bug tracking, development and CI tools as well as many others used throughout the software development lifecycle.

Future-Proofing Your Test Management Efforts with qTest

Any time you introduce an enterprise-level solution, the goal should be to “future-proof” your efforts. In other words, you want to pick a tool that can scale and mature with your team so that you won’t have to worry about outgrowing the solution and then going through the evaluation, implementation and change management process all over again.

When it comes to future-proofing, the responsibility falls on both your team and your software provider to ensure you continue to get the most out of the system by using it in ways that match the changing needs of your team and by expanding your use over time to increase value.

With a test management tool like qTest, once you get started on the basics, you can begin to decommission your old tools to eliminate any duplicate systems. You can also add value by introducing new integrations into other testing tools that you’re using to make sure that data gets transferred as necessary and to simplify processes for users.

From there, it’s a matter of exploring what else you can do within the system to really push the envelope and get better results and more value in return. And some of the best ways to get ideas for how to expand your use include regularly engaging with your support team, reading blogs like this one, attending partner events and learning directly from other organizations like yours using the system.

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