The Test Estimation Process

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on expert judgment
Before estimating, the testing team classifies the requirements in the following categories:

  • Critical: The development team has little knowledge in how to implement it;
  • High: The development team has good knowledge in how to implement it but it is not an easy task;
  • Normal: The development team has good knowledge in how to implement.

The experts in each requirement should say how long it would take for testing them. The categories would help the experts in estimating the effort for testing the requirements.

3rd Rule: Estimation shall be based on previous projects
All estimation should be based on previous projects. If a new project has similar requirements from a previous one, the estimation is based on that project.

4th Rule: Estimation shall be based on metrics
My organization has created an OPD, Organization Process Database, where the project metrics are recorded. We have recorded metrics from three years ago obtained from dozens of projects.

The number of requirements is the basic information for estimating a testing project. From it, my organization has metrics that guide us to estimate a testing project. The table below shows the metrics used to estimate a testing project. The team size is 01 testing engineer.

For instance, if we have a project with 70 functional requirements and a testing team size of 2 engineers, we reach the following estimates:

The testing duration is estimated in 22 (16+6) working days. Plus, 11 working days for preparing it.

5th Rule: Estimation shall never forget the past
I have not sent away the past. The testing team continues using the old process and the spreadsheet. After the estimation is done following the new rules, the testing team estimates again using the old process in order to compare both results.

Normally, the results from the new estimate process are cheaper and faster than the old one in about 20 to 25%. If the testing team gets a different percentage, the testing team returns to the process in order to understand if something was missed.

6th Rule: Estimation shall be recorded
All decisions should be recorded. It is very important because if requirements change for any reason, the records would help the testing team to estimate again. The testing team would not need to return for all steps and take the same decisions again. Sometimes, it is an opportunity to adjust the estimation made earlier.

7th Rule: Estimation shall be supported by tools
A new spreadsheet has been created containing metrics that help to reach the estimation quickly. The spreadsheet calculates automatically the costs and duration for each testing phase.

There is also a letter template that contains some sections such as: cost table, risks, and free notes to be filled out. This letter is sent to the customer. It also shows the different options for testing that can help the customer decides which kind of test he needs

8th Rule: Estimation shall always be verified
Finally, All estimation should be verified. I've created another spreadsheet for recording the estimations. The estimation is compared to the previous ones recorded in a spreadsheet to see if they have similar trend. If the estimation has any deviation from the recorded ones, then a re-estimation should be made.

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