Reengineering Test Management

[article]
Increasing testing effectiveness by using a Web-based, database powered test management tool
  • last tested?
  • What is the defect number for this failed test case?
  • Do we have test results for this build?
  • Do we have a history of test case results across different builds?
  • How can we share the test cases with a remote team?
  • Does our product meet the requirements that we originally set?
  • What is the requirements test coverage?
  • Is our product ready for release?

Getting this information fast is critical for software product and process quality. But many times, it is difficult to get this information, depending on the way test cases and execution results are defined, organized, and managed.

Most organizations still use word processing tools or spreadsheets to define and manage test cases. There are many problems associated with defining and storing test cases in decentralized documents:

  • Tracking. Testing is a repetitive task. Once a test case has been defined, it should be reusable until the application is changed. Unstructured testing without following any standard process can result in creation of tests, designs, and plans that are not repeatable and cannot be reused for future iterations of the test. It is difficult to locate and track decentralized test documents.
  • Reuse. Because it is difficult to locate test cases for execution, they are seldom used in day to day testing execution.
  • Duplication of test cases and efforts. It is difficult to locate a test case, so there are chances of duplicating the same and wasting the testing effort.
  • Version control. Since there is no central repository, version control becomes difficult, and individual team members may use different versions of test cases.
  • Changes and maintenance. Changes to product features can happen many times during a product development lifecycle. In such scenarios, test cases can become obsolete, rendering the whole effort in test planning a fruitless exercise. It is important to keep the test case list updated to reflect changes to product features; otherwise, for the next phase of testing there will be a tendency to discard the current test case list and start over again.
  • Execution results-logging and tracking. The test execution result history is difficult to maintain. It is difficult to know what testing has been done, which test cases have been executed, results of each test case that is executed, and if a problem report has been written against this failed test case.
  • Incomplete and inconsistent information for decision-making. A defect database provides only one side of the information necessary for knowing the quality of a product. It tells what is broken in a product, and what has been fixed. It does not tell what has been tested and what works. This is almost as important as the defect information.
  • Test metrics. If we cannot have a history of test results, it is difficult to generate test metrics like functional test coverage, defect detection effectiveness, test execution progress, etc.
  • Difficult to associate related information. We also need to deal with huge quantities of information (documents, test data, images, test cases, test plans, results, staffing, timelines, priorities, etc.).
  • Nonpreservation of testware. It is essential that testware (test plans, test cases, test data, test results, and execution details) be stored and preserved for reuse on subsequent versions of a single application or sharing between applications. Not only does this testware save time, but over a period of time it gives the organization a pattern, knowledge base, and maturity to pinpoint the error-prone areas in the code development cycle, fix them, and prevent the errors from recurring.
  • Inconsistent processes. Organizations are not static. People move from project to project. If the testing job is performed differently for each project or

About the author

Prasad Patwa's picture Prasad Patwa

Prasad Patwa is a Senior SQA Engineer at BMC Software, India. He is a CSTE and CSQA from QAI. He has over eight years of experience in the area of software validation and verification and test automation.

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