Test management in different industries

One common benefit I enjoy working in this IT industry is ample availability of information on the net, be it know-how, tutorials, wisdom or anything else, but various other small businesses in other industries lack this. For example, I’ve been visiting a lot of blogs lately on testing / QC to find out what small businesses in other industries are using for their test management. It seems there is no industry standard tool there so leaders in these industries have their own in-house solutions (Excel spreadsheet or others). Maybe the reason is the unavailability of the tools. For the same reason, we’ve made our test case management tool to be easily used across various other industries. Our primary focus is still on IT industry but a features like custom fields in test cases means you can tailor our tool to your needs without the overhead of development costs.

So which other industries can use test management tools?

Basically any organization which develops a product knows they need a strict test management. Some examples:

  • Electronics
  • Manufacturing
  • Architecture & Designing
  • Consulting
  • Automotive
  • Education
  • Ofcourse, this is just a tip of iceberg!

    If you’re from a non-IT industry, please share your experience. We’d like to know any challenges you faced while managing QC process or any other facts which can enlighten others.

    Our first design revision and 80th day of development

    I’m so happy that we have made so much progress in this project. Several hours discussing, coding and debating is finally showing up. Today we’ve integrated great design and its comforting my eyes so much. Here are some screenshots:

    Today is also 80th day of development. Still more than a month to go and a lot of work to do…

    Capturing a test case as soon as its born

    ABC Company is a hypothetical profitable small sized software development company with 30 employees. Their workflow is pretty simple:
    1. Capture requirements
    2. Plan
    3. Code
    4. Test
    5. Pack/Deploy
    They do pretty well with all the processes. Their last project was a big success and now they are getting ready with the new project. While they were on their Phase 2, i.e. planning, Robert, their junior developer while reading requirements went through ‘CSV Upload’ feature. From the idea he concluded that this should handle both types of CSV files – one with the headers and one without. So while testing, he established, both such files should be checked. He checks with his senior developer, who agrees and says he’ll keep that in his mind. But as all of us know, our mind is terrible at remembering things, the release date came near and software was marked ready to be shipped. Now a day before delivery, buyer is shown full featured demo of the product. The not-so-computer-savvy buyer makes a CSV file real quick in an excel file without the headers to check the great CSV Upload feature and suddenly identifies that it is not making any sense. Add 4-5 instances like this and they’ll surely delay a day or two in your project.

    So the point is: do you see how a ‘test case’ plays an important role? Apart from that, how important it is to capture a test case as soon as it has taken birth in a team member’s brain. We think, very important. Because it happens only while working on requirements, planning and coding that you are so deep down the project and have most insight about a project. That’s exactly when you should start thinking about test cases. But Robert didn’t do it – why? Because he had no platform to fill in the piece of information he had in his brain, where others could see and act on it. So what do people like Robert often do when they don’t know what to do? Sometimes they talk and sometimes they forget about it – even if they talk, chances are that piece of information is still lost because that’s not in a system others rely on. There’s also another article on why you should involve everybody in your team in testing.

    Now hypothetically, lets say meanwhile in ABC Company, they discussed and figured out that they need some sort of control or management over testing. They started using Test Collab. Every team member was instructed to post in a test case as soon as they thought of it. During the end of each phase, seniors would review the reported test case, and give a go ahead. Before testing, senior developers would arrange test in sequential order, and assign them to testers. They also configured their bug tracking tool with Test Collab, which meant that instant a failure is reported, the whole development team will be informed of the failed test. CEO and other managers go through the stats produced by Test Collab and can easily conclude if their testing is slightly growing to take more time, or if the staging instance of software they have deployed has suddenly a lot of failures.

    Testing automatically will become more interesting and fun once a process is standardized.

    Do you already capture test cases right after they’re born? Let us know.

    Test Metrics to die for

    [frame_left][/frame_left] Yes, there are a few of them you would want to die for. Here are some examples from our Test Collab application in order of their importance (but order varies for different type of organizations):
    1. Average time taken per test execution: This tells you efficiency of testers. And a sudden rise or fall can be a bad news for software managers.
    Why is it important?
    Keeping close eye on this will help managers knowing if something is changed abnormally in the project or if suddenly there’s a communication problem in team or if just testers are not working productively.

    2. Defects Reported: Total number of failures/defects in project reported since creation.
    Why is it important?
    Every defect reported from your test case management tool is a cost expense which needs to be paid before you deliver. Keeping in close touch with this metric will keep you connected with project’s target date and budget and make smarter decision when need arises. Sudden rise of this metric means your project health is coming down and your developers might not be doing a good job.

    3. Average success % per execution: No of passes / No. of total test cases executed * 100 (Ideal value: 100%)
    Why is it important?
    This metric tells you what % of cases are passed and failed on average. Higher value indicates the project is going great and there’s a great communication between developers and testers. Rising value indicates team is improving itself and paying more attention to the quality. Declining or a low value is bad sign and that’s when a manager should jump in to take necessary steps to fix it. Make a rule for lowest value in your organization and tell your developers to maintain this. If they don’t jump in to find out the reason.

    4. Test Cases: Total number of test cases in a project.
    Why is it important?
    A greater number of test cases usually suggest that team has worked well identifying what to test as end-user in a particular feature or the whole project. A greater number early while development and with slow rise during development also suggests that project is in good direction.

    5. Test Executions: Total number of test executions in project. Don’t forget that each execution contains various set of tests.
    Why is it important?
    At lower level this metrics tell you how much testing has been performed on a project, not in terms of the time but total number of instances. Comparing this value with your other projects can suggest you if there were greater/lesser effort spent on testing. And sometimes, depending on project outcome, you can acknowledge if this worked in your favor or against (even though a project failure can be occur by various reasons).

    6. Time spent on testing: Total time spent on testing in a project.
    Why is it important?
    For very obvious reasons. This can tell you how much time you’re spending on testing (excluding your test management time though). You can compare this with your planned cost of testing or cost of project. If that tells you that you’re spending 60% of allotted time of a project in testing, you can focus on improving your testing process and thereby reducing the time.

    There are several other important metrics which you should not forget:
    1. Defects per size: Defects detected / system size
    2. Cost to report a defect: Cost of testing / the number of defects reported
    3. Defects detected in testing: Defects detected in testing / total system defects
    4. Defects detected in production: Defects detected in production/system size
    5. Quality of Testing: No of defects found during Testing/(No of defects found during testing + No of acceptance defects found after delivery) *100
    6. Effectiveness of testing to business: Loss due to problems / total resources processed by the system.

    This list covers some major standard testing metrics. There can be several metrics in your organization. So which metrics do you die for? We’ll appreciate your input.

    P.S. See also how we do it in Test Collab:

    Involve everyone in team to your testing process

    Your testing process includes creation of new test cases, execution of tests and compiling the stats into important business conclusions. Be it your developer, designer, tester, manager or CEO. In some companies, I’ve observed it is completely left on testers to maintain and execute tests. Don’t be one of them.

    I think you should involve everyone to your testing process and here’s why:

    1. More members mean more cases. It also means more time to execute, but prioritising tests will overcome that issue.

    2. Developers alone can’t lay down all the test cases. For UI testing, it’s equally important for a designer to submit some test cases which shall be checked from time to time.

    3. Every team member has different set of interests where they are at their best. Let them think over what tests should be performed on such areas.

    4. An idea for test case can strike at the speed of light in every other team member’s brain anytime. If you will have a ready to use platform, they will use it which will add to the product’s quality. Also, see a hypothetical case study on this.

    5. Everyone sees things differently, so if you get more team members to execute tests you will see different type of feedback coming.

    At the end, what matters is your commitment to testing. But Test Collab automatically encourages whole teams to take part in testing process once you start using it, and tries making testing a habit in organization.

    Start of our Test Case Management software

    Not too long ago, we realized that we don’t have a very efficient testing procedure in place along with our release cycles. We were infact doing worst at testing when compared to other processes. The problems were:

    1. Testing was done by testers in isolation and reporting was terrible manual using spreadsheets. There was nothing concrete which we could refer as “Test Execution report”.

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