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The Ultimate Guide to Effective Test Management

Introduction

When schedules and budgets are tight, it can be hard to allocate time and resources to test management. But for those looking to see improvements to the quality of their software, the pace of their schedules, and the development of their products, test management platforms cannot be ignored.

This is more true than ever now that test management tools are designed with the needs of software developers in mind, helping them monitor schedules, resolve issues, and track project details against a budget.

So how do you get started with test management? And what are the steps, processes, and best practices involved?

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TestMonitor Guide to Effective Test Management

Chapter 1

Introduction

We get it. 

In a time when schedules are tight and budgets are even tighter, it can be hard to allocate time and resources to test management. But for those looking to realize improvements to the quality of their software, the pace of their schedules, and the development of their products, test management platforms cannot be ignored.

This is especially true now that there are test management tools designed with the needs of software developers in mind, helping them track the details of individual projects against their budget, planned schedule, and issue resolution.

So how does an organization get started with test management, and what are the steps, processes, and best practices involved?

This guide from the team at TestMonitor will not only help you understand the key phases of software development testing, but also how best practices in modern test management can make your job easier.

Chapter 2

What Is Test Management?

As software projects get more complex—combining the input of different stakeholders, diverse requirements, and integrations with other systems—the need for robust and structured testing becomes even more essential. This need only becomes greater with customer expectations for smooth user interfaces, dynamic features, and compatibility across a diverse set of operating systems and platforms.

At a high level, the test management process includes several key steps:

  • Defining software requirements and known risks.
  • Designing test cases to match the requirements.
  • Planning the test milestones, organizing them into test runs, and identifying testers.
  • Running the tests and recording issues and results.
  • Analyzing the test results and managing the issues.
  • Updating task statuses to feed into status reports for your stakeholders.
  • Obtaining final sign-off on the requirements from testers.

Test management tools are designed to facilitate these processes and make software testing easier by reducing the administrative burden on test managers and testers, supporting consistency from test to test, and managing each of these software testing activities. As a result, organizations can confirm that their software meets quality, performance, functionality, and schedule requirements.

Chapter 3

How to Structure Your Test Management Approach

Like any other part of your software development life cycle, you need to plan your approach to your organization’s test management responsibilities. 

Whether you already have a plan in place and want to make it more robust or you are just now formalizing your methodology, it is good practice to start with a well-established template. 

You will find different features and terminology as you research various approaches. In fact, TestMonitor used more than 20 years of experience in software testing to develop a model. It includes six stages, organized into two phases.

Preparation

The first of the two main phases, Preparation, lays the groundwork and standards for your testing effort and identifies the requirements and risks that will shape it. This phase includes three stages:

Define

During the Define stage, your team:

  • Captures stakeholder needs and software requirements.
  • Confirms requirements are written appropriately.
  • Documents known and potential issues that could impact testing.
  • Classifies risks and requirements by priority.

Design

During the Design stage, the focus is on developing test cases and, in turn, test suites.

  • A test case turns your software requirement or risk into something that can be independently evaluated and defines the steps needed to verify it.
  • Test cases identify the expected results from different workflows and scenarios.
  • Test suites organize related test cases into logical groups, ensuring smooth and structured testing.

Plan

With the expectations for your testing identified, risks documented, and test cases and test runs developed, it is time to put all the pieces together to create your test plan.

In the Plan stage, your team is:

  • Planning the length and timing of specific test runs.
  • Grouping test runs to create milestones and track overall progress in your testing schedule. (Note: The number of milestones can vary depending on project size or development methodology. For example, with Agile, a sprint can be a milestone.)
  • Identifying who is responsible for different testing efforts and providing them with the resources they need to complete their work.
  • Assigning test cases to one or more testers.

Execution

The second phase, Execution, is when the rubber hits the road. This phase also includes three stages.

Run

This is when all the testers and test managers get busy executing the assigned tests.

  • Test cases are provided to the testers, including the instructions, data, and expected results.
  • Testers conduct the assigned tests and document their results and other feedback.
  • Test managers open up lines of communication, preferably using the tools provided in the test management software to enable sorting and tracking.

Track

As testing continues, the Track stage begins. In this stage, test managers and teams track testers’ progress and compare their performance against milestones. This is when a powerful test management solution pulls its weight, making all of the monitoring, tracking, and managing results easy.

With a solution like TestMonitor, you can:

  • Track the progress of test cases and test runs.
  • Share updates with stakeholders.
  • See which test cases passed, which failed, and which need more time.
  • Filter test results by requirement, status, or milestone.

Resolve

After testing wraps up, you should have an auditable trail of test cases with sign-offs or issues for remediation.

During the Resolve stage, you assign these open issues to be fixed, prioritizing them by need or impact.

As the software is updated, the test can be conducted again and new results recorded. Throughout this stage, the test manager should have a clear view of how many tests are completed and what needs to be fixed.

Chapter 4

What Are Some Must-Haves for Test Management Tools?

Sold on the benefits test management tools can deliver to your brand and bottom line? 

Now comes the essential task of identifying what you need in a test management platform, especially the must-haves that industry-leading software testing tools can offer.

Although you may already have a list of requirements unique to your business, consider adding these to your criteria:

End-to-End Task, Requirement, and Issue Tracking

This is a must-have, which is why we put it first.

Developers and test managers don’t have time to monitor testing activities across various sources, compiling spreadsheets, documents, and updates from a myriad of inputs. This is true whether your organization is using manual or automated testing. However, it can be especially tedious as the results from automated tests are produced throughout the various stages of the test management process. 

Give your team members the ability to track their entire workload at a high level and drill down into each test case, project by project, with the click of a button. And when it comes to the results from automated tests, a platform like TestMonitor can serve as the source of truth, consolidating test results and acting as the quality for everything related to testing.  

Take it to the next level by allowing users to filter their tasks by requirement, milestone, or stage to prioritize and manage their resources more effectively. For example, TestMonitor creates links between risks, requirements, and testing results, reducing the time needed to complete research and administrative work.

Finally, with TestMonitor, you can track the entire lifecycle of each requirement—from initial intake and testing to issue resolution and final closeout—helping you project the overall health and timing of your product. It is real-time insights like these that amplify the productivity of your team.

Intuitive Dashboards and Reporting

Sharing project and testing status is critical, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a chore.

When evaluating potential test management solutions, look at how easy it is to filter and display results and progress at different levels and across the portfolio of work. How easy is it to track issues by project, impact level, or priority? What reporting tools are built in, and can you configure them to meet your needs? How easy is it to share reports, including shareable links, exporting options, and user-specific dashboards?

A repository of support and training resources

Whether you are looking for advanced features to enhance your work or simple, easy-to-understand guides for one-time users or testers, your test management platform provider should have you covered with plenty of resources.

For example, look for a partner that provides unlimited access to a knowledge base of searchable articles, guided tutorials, and recorded webinars to ensure you have the step-by-step walkthroughs and other information you need to deliver for your users and clients. 

Flexible platform with performance to match

The range of operating systems, devices, and platforms that software developers, testers, and other stakeholders use can be wide. Add in today’s need for remote work and accessibility any time, anywhere, and you need a test management solution that can keep up. 

As you evaluate options, ensure the system is compatible with the software and hardware your users rely on and the provider has the mechanisms to guarantee uptime and availability.

Finally, go one step further and look for a solution that can integrate with the other enterprise systems you already have in place, making sharing data and managing workflows that much easier.

Security and Encryption

Software testing (and the data it produces, such as bugs and defects) can be a sensitive time for your product. The last thing that you want is for unauthorized users to find their way into your testing environment or for the information to be in an unencrypted state.

That’s why your test management tool should have a strong encryption method to keep your data safe while in transit and at rest. Your test management software provider should also ensure that you have a domain accessible only by your organization and powered by a database that is backed up frequently and secured.

Chapter 5

The Test Management Best Practices and Tips You Need to Know

So with your test management platform in place (or a plan to get there!), how can you use it to its full potential and maximize your test management?

Here are some best practices and tips we believe can make a big difference in your software testing experience.

Leverage test case libraries.

If you want to ensure your team is performing at the same level for every effort, capture your testing best practices or preferences, or even just save time, test case libraries should be a key part of your test management workflow.

Industry-leading test management software will make creating and using test case templates easy, recording the objectives, timeline, and other key aspects so all your must-haves are ready for each testing effort. 

And, if a test case needs to be modified, you can easily tweak it to fit your needs and queue it up for a test run. Overall, you can save time by avoiding repetitive tasks without sacrificing the robustness of your testing phase.

Communicate frequently with project stakeholders and testers.

Another task often forgotten in the heat of testing is communication with project stakeholders and testers.

Communicating with both groups is essential to ensure project sponsors have the information to remove potential roadblocks and testers know when and how long they are needed. 

This can easily be completed with the built-in dashboards in your test management solution. Users can get a login and portal that displays the information they need to know, ranging from upcoming tasks to traceability to overall status.

Internally, development team members can use this to know which items they should focus on and where additional collaboration is needed. 

In any case, reports can be filtered and dashboards generated with just a few clicks.

Utilize end-to-end requirements.

Tired of juggling multiple spreadsheets, consolidating dozens of test result summaries, and relying on email to get sign-offs on requirements?

Fortunately, with a test management system, you can be done with these headaches.

TestMonitor makes managing requirements easy, giving your team the ability to monitor progress on both a macro and micro level. Filter, sort, and edit requirements as needed and easily convert them into test cases for tester confirmation. 

Test results can then be converted to issues, prioritized, and electronically audited, all while remaining tied to the original design requirements. Features like these make test cases close out quicker and the quality feedback loop stronger.

Make sharing feedback and updates easy.

When it comes time to execute tests, you want to maximize the time your testers are expending and ensure it is directed toward meaningful tasks.

Use your test management solution to make their jobs easier with an intuitive way to capture their feedback and test results. Go one step further by creating their own testing portal, listing out their assigned tests, and helping them track their work. Testers can also include attachments and screenshots, providing the vital context your developers need to recreate and resolve an issue.

TestMonitor comes with these features and a simple, smiley-based system to capture a tester’s overall satisfaction with the testing process. 

 

 

Chapter 6

Take Test Management to the Next Level with TestMonitor

Customers now expect more features from their products and project sponsors expect faster release cycles—often with tough scrutiny on budgets and resources—making test management a vital part of your organization’s development lifecycle. 

Add in the need for clear, consistent communication and structured tasking with your tests and developers, and a powerful test management platform like TestMonitor rapidly sees a return on investment. 

That’s because TestMonitor is designed—and constantly being enhanced—with software testers of every industry and workload in mind, giving them all of the tools, features, and accelerators they need to produce quality software.

Are you ready to see for yourself how beneficial TestMonitor is for your test management needs?  If so, the team at TestMonitor would welcome the chance to speak with you and set you up with a 14-day free trial

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