Dear Software Teams: Using Spreadsheets for testing is a crime against productivity

Abhimanyu Grover
September 18, 2012

I remember few weeks after our launch (in mid 2011), a potential customer emailed us saying that he needs to convince his team that using Test Collab would be better than using Excel for their software projects. Then we received a few more emails like this, and found out many corporates and big companies were stuck with Excel as a testing tool, it appeared they never even looked for a specialized tool.

Here’s a thought: Why not use a specialized tool instead, like Test Collab? You’ll spend hundred of hours maintaining a large sheet with thousands of records which becomes obsolete after a few months. Choosing such a cumbersome solution has only two possible outcomes: (a) No one in QA team will want to use the solution – because its ineffective and it wastes their time. (b) These spreadsheet will become so ugly and annoying as project grows that no one will be able to use it, even if they want.

So, want a reason to ditch spreadsheets (or Excel) right now? I’ll give you eight:

  • It was not made for test management. Although some might argue that it can be repurposed to do whatever, but good luck first figuring that out, then writing rules for team and getting team on same page.
  • No user management or roles: You cannot define permissions granularly without being an Excel nerd. Even if you do, it’s simply not worth considering hours you’ll spend on development and maintenance.
  • Categorization / Tagging / Reusing data across projects will never be possible. Even an Excel nerd can’t help you here.
  • Real Test Execution / Tracking time elapsed is not possible. A tester can never feel the execution running in an spreadsheet, because that is what he’s working on – a sheet. With a software like ours, testers get real sense of activity while tests are executing, while a sheet on the other hand is just a place for end result to go.
  • Integrating with your defect manager: Testers can push defect from test failures to your issue manager in real time. Can your spreadsheet do that? No, I’m guessing.
  • No data organization
  • No out-of-the-box metrics: We provide every metric we gather from data about your testing. Sure spreadsheets can do that, but not without several hours of formulas writing.
  • No API for custom rules and logic

The point is: Using a test management solution is a crucial factor for software development, without one in place you might be losing without even knowing it.

And what’s worse than spreadsheets? Not managing your tests at all.