Yes, it does sound a bit like a question with an obvious answer. But, the thing is, lots of IT departments that test new software for their organization do test management badly. Really badly. In this article, we’re going to look into what test management involves and try to help test managers who are struggling to keep on top of everything to get control back over their software testing.
Software test management: a definition
OK, yes, this one really does mean what it sounds like it does: managing software testing. But that actually covers quite a lot of work. Test management includes the following activities:
- Making sure your library of tests is up to date (both your manual and automated tests).
- Ensuring that the correct tests are assigned to the people who need to run them.
- Ensuring all automated tests are run at the appropriate times.
- Check that all manual tests are completed on time by the right people.
- Delivering results from failed tests to developers for bug fixes.
- Retesting those elements which failed and have now been fixed.
It’s quite a big job!
Why is test management important in software testing?
If nobody’s in control of the process of software testing, it can break your business.
After all, the point of any software testing effort is to ensure that when a piece of software your organization uses is updated, it doesn’t break the way your business is run. Poor test management can lead to one of two scenarios:
Tests take far longer to complete than they should, leading to delays in releasing new software to your organization. That could damage your ability to deliver good service or stay ahead of your competitors.
Tests start to get missed, or some feedback isn’t implemented, increasing the risk that a bug which prevents your organization from operating will make it into production. And, as we’ve seen so many times throughout the last few years, the consequences of that can be disastrous.
They aren’t great options to choose between, are they? The good news is that if you get test management right, you don’t have to choose either.
Common challenges with test management
Rigid (or no) tools
Many test managers do use applications to manage software testing for their organization. But those tools usually require you to adapt your ways of working to them rather than the other way around. The tools are often also relatively narrow in their focus, meaning that you need multiple applications to get all the functionality you want or that you have to force everyone to use the same methodology across the organization.
Then, of course, there are those working on a mixture of spreadsheets, emails, screenshots, and a large amount of optimism. And while we love a bit of optimism at Original Software, it probably shouldn’t be the thing holding your test management processes together.
Testing volumes are increasing.
Largely driven by the rise in cloud applications, the volume of updates that organizations need to test has grown over the last five years. It can also mean that multiple testing projects are in motion (and at different stages) at the same time. It’s because of this that the manual test management processes most organizations have been using since the dawn of time are now starting to fall apart.
The need for an audit trail
Audit trails are important for auditors but also for your own issue mitigation. If something goes wrong with your testing, you want to be able to work out exactly what happened. Was there some feedback that got missed? Did a test not reveal an issue? Current test management practices make finding this information very difficult indeed.
People management is a pain.
When running UAT or other manual testing phases, the test manager has to make sure that they’ve allocated everyone the right tests and then make sure that those people have done those tests. In most organizations, where people are very busy, that job is a nightmare. Especially if you have to rely on a variety of applications to make it all happen.
Software test management best practices
We’ve covered what test management is, why it’s important, and what makes it difficult. Now it’s time to discuss what you can do to make test management easier and better for your organization.
The root cause of the difficulties with test management is that there are too many moving parts to keep track of by hand. Even though many of us are using digital tools to help manage the process, the process is in many ways still a manual one at heart – you have to remember to check the spreadsheet, go looking for the feedback you need, and so on. The key to getting better at test management is to eliminate that manual effort needed to keep track of everything.
Ideally, test management should be done using a platform that takes all the elements you need to keep track of and shows you them in a central location. That enables you to:
- View your entire test library – both manual tests and automated scripts.
- Allocate tests to individuals as needed and manage communications with them.
- See the status of every test you need to do, so you can chase up tests that are late.
- Drill down into completed tests to see everything that happened.
- View and triage all feedback from completed tests, confident you haven’t missed anything.
Ideally, this environment would also connect with your developer environment, allowing you to do things like turn feedback into a ticket for your developers all from one dashboard.
By putting all the information, you need in one place, along with tools to keep the testing process moving, you can scale up the number of tests one person manages while keeping the management overhead minimal. As a result, you can either streamline your testing team or increase the pace of your testing – reducing cycle times while protecting the quality of your testing process.
Test management from Original Software
It won’t surprise you to discover that we offer a test management solution that delivers on everything we’ve talked about here. We’ve been helping our clients reimagine how they do software testing for more than twenty years now, with a focus on creating tools that tackle the challenges at the heart of software testing.
Available as a standalone app or through a web browser, our test management solution is great for teams of any size and any geographic distribution – one office, multiple, or hybrid working environments. It gives you complete visibility and control over all your testing, including handy features like being able to create new tests from existing test assets in just a few clicks. Of course, it integrates with our manual testing and automated testing solutions (and forms part of our UAT solution), but it can also integrate with other testing software. In fact, we can help you integrate our test management solution with almost any piece of software you need it to talk to, so you can manage tests in the way that works best for your organization.
Our test management solution has been used:
- By historic brewers Carlsberg-Marston’s to ensure their SAP upgrade project was managed smoothly.
- By satellite and comms company Viasat to manage an Oracle upgrade while maintaining a full audit trail for government regulators.
- By UK insurers Ageas to improve testing efficiency by 125%.
Want to find out more about test management?
If you’re keen to get out of the dark ages of test management, we’d love to help you. Click below to get in touch.