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7 Characteristics of Next-Level Manual Software Testing

by Thijs Kok, on August 13, 2020

Successful testing with a smile

We hear a lot of talk these days about “next level.” Next-level video games, next-level fashion, next-level fitness. The U.S. State Department even runs an international hip-hop diplomacy initiative called “Next Level.” 

However, to truly live up to the claim of “next level,” a system or product must be able to demonstrate high standards of excellence—not just talk. This maxim is especially true when it comes to manual software testing. But what are the defining characteristics of next-level manual software testing? It starts with getting optimized.

1. Optimized Test Cases

Simply stated, a test case is a collection of test instructions. Its job is to test whether any given requirement passes or fails.

For example, a test case may confirm that a web contact form correctly generates an automated email to the correct contact person. Test cases are then organized into test runs in which one or more testers are assigned test cases within a specific period.

You’re probably familiar with the classic computer-science maxim: GIGO - “Garbage In, Garbage Out. If your team uses incorrect wording, unclear context or displays a total lack of proper details, you’re case will output -- you guessed it - garbage. Thinking deeply about the “how and why” of your strategy will guarantee your test case won’t become”garbage.”

  • Envision your expectations for the test case before leaping into action. What needs to be tested? Why?
  • Make sure your test case name relates cases to reusable objects without creating confusing or unclear names.
  • Pre-conditions, attachments, and test data should be properly and clearly organized within the input stage.
  • Test steps and instructions should be concise, descriptive, and account for the fact that different testers come from different backgrounds and may not understand jargon.

2. Better Risk Metrics

Few tactics can spoil next-level manual software testing more so than failing to include dynamic, well-defined risk metrics. Appropriate risk metrics empower your team to get a firm grip on your project’s outcome. The best risk metric strategies focus on test results with the highest project risk—operational or financial risks, for example.

Best practices include:

  • Remember to create risk metrics that are directly and accurately linked to test cases.
  • Define risks that specifically would most adversely impact your business or software. Think of worst-case scenarios and use testing to ease your conscience.
  • Next-level manual software testing enables your team to filter and analyze test cases, test runs, test results, and other issues based on your defined risks.

3. Smart Reporting

Next-level manual software testing only reaches the next level by “being smart” when it comes to reporting. After all, enhanced reporting “tells the tale” about the entire process—strengths, weaknesses, and growth areas. Smart reporting provides real-time insight into testing status and progress. It also allows management to track the workload of the entire team with real-time status and progress reports for test runs, test cases, and issues.

Best practices include:

  • Use integrated reports that provide output for the whole package: requirements, risks, test runs, test results, and issues.
  • Include the ability to view traceability, progress, and coverage reports.
  • Also, include the ability to view issue reports per status, impact, category, priority, or organization.

4. Requirements by Specifications

Requirements define detailed, specific, and expected outcomes. They are the “A+” grades you want to see in your final testing. Examples of requirements include: “The invoice details are only available to admins” or “Invoicing system communicates with accounting software.”

Requirements define your expectations from the software. Poor requirement definitions equal poor test cases. The result? Irrelevant metrics that benefit no one.

Best practices include:

  • Organize requirements (especially large amounts) into groups.
  • Classify requirements by leveraging various requirement types.
  • Review only those requirements that impact vital project requirements.
  • Filter and analyze your test cases, test runs, test results, and issues based on defined requirements.
  • Ensure the nomenclature used is concise and understandable.

5. Architecture Perspective

Next-level manual software testing approaches test design from an architecture perspective. It’s a 50,000-foot view, as opposed to ground level—taking in the “Big Picture.” Test architecture encompasses various viewpoints and relationships. Make sure your team understands that the test must conform to the overarching architecture of the software involved—including any possible integrations.

6. Test Case Re-Run Strategies

No next-level manual software testing strategy is complete without the ability to rerun a test run when viewing a test result. Your testing team should be able to duplicate test cases on the fly. After your team fixes a major issue, go ahead and plan to re-run the test immediately following the fix. What can be more satisfying to your team then “squashing a bug?”

Best practices include:

  • Use a manual testing solution that provides an intuitive way to rerun test runs and test cases based on former test runs, test case outcomes, and issues.
  • Choose a solution that makes duplicating or rerunning test runs effortless. A single click should allow you to duplicate the test run, including all testers and test cases.

7. Preventing Tester Fatigue

The role of a software tester is not only participating in the test and reporting issues. The tester plays an irreplaceable role as part of the team. However, if a tester feels like they are out of the loop or their input is ignored, they can quickly become fatigued.

Best practices include:

  • Allow testers to request new features. This provides them with a creative opportunity to contribute ideas for product improvement.
  • Give testers the opportunity to provide a review by including a short-form and a free-form submission process that empowers the tester to be honest. This shows that you care about their input.
  • Demonstrate your trust in the testers’ abilities. Let them know you appreciate their expertise because they know everything about their department.
  • Reward testers for finding quality bugs.

Additional Tips

In addition to these winning strategies, remember these additional tips to take your testing to the next level.

  • Craft better, more concise descriptions -- issues and test-case descriptions included. This reduces turnaround.
  • Include an extensive library with project templates that populate requirements, risks, test suites, and test cases to get your project kick-started.

For a deeper dive into the next level of your manual software testing journey, check out this free webinar by TestMonitor founder René Ceelen. Welcome to the next level!

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