Best Practices for Using Test Management Tools

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Think of test management tools as the Swiss Army knife in the back of your pocket. Test management tools can be the one-stop resource for a multiple purpose benefit. There are thousands of test management tools available, however they all have a few benefits in common if used proficiently.

Reporting

One of the most important factors that test management tools provide is the ability to display the current status of a project. The ability to look at where you are with a project provides sight into projections for hitting (or missing) targets and the readiness to move onto the next phase.

Status expectations need to be properly defined and set-up in the test management tool. Once configured, daily status meetings become a walk in the park since the information is readily available with the click of a button. Since the report displays live to-date results, there is no variance if users updated their status’ manually.

To properly configure your reports, first you would need to identify:

  • Which report you are looking for? (Requirement, test script, execution, defect, targets, etc.)
  • What detailed information you are looking for? (status of priority, implementation date, release date, targeted environment, comment updates, etc.)
  • How do you want to present the information? (Pie chart, bar graph, trend graph, table, etc.)

Once you have established what report you need, details of the report, and configuration, you will have to connect with your IT support group who manages your test management tool on the best way to create the report. Once the report is created, generating the report is easy to do minutes before a status meeting.

Some of the reports can also be used for billable documentation, such as Requirement Traceability Matrix, Test Summary Reports, Defect cataloging, Requirements Audit Trail Report, and Risk Reporting. Report creation from test management tools is the golden ticket for organizing, prioritizing, and aligning team members who are working towards the end goal.

Communication

Sorting through emails is never an easy task. Test management tools can make it simple and easy to organize important communications which are valuable for audit trails. Whether it’s documenting requirement changes, test script changes, or defect updates — most test management tools have it covered.

You will need to set communication expectation and guidelines for your team on how to document important details. Here are some guidelines to consider:

  • Defects require daily updates.
  • Official changes to the requirements need to be communicated as to what was changed and the rational for the change.
  • The vendor needs to understand the proper lines of communication, depending on the issue or notification.
  • Externally affected teams need to understand the internal protocol for communication best practices.

Tracking

Hundreds of thousands of trivial information is sent and received either in a test management tool, in person, or through email. Tracking all of the various testing details is important from an auditing standpoint to ensure that test management tools track the date, time, and possible location of when and where each action was taken.

Vital recordings in test management tools include:

  • Date and time stamps for comments/feedback (defects, test scripts, requirements, etc.)
  • When implementations are started and completed (including duration of activity).
  • History trail of any changes made to a defect, script, requirement, or risk.
  • Official approval history and validations.

Be aware that some tracking details or settings cannot be modified by users. In most instances, the settings for capturing date/time details are auto-controlled by the date/time of where the server is located. For example, if a project is held onsite at a U.S. location, but the main servers and organization is based in France, then the date/time may be captured in Central European Summer Time rather than Eastern Standard Time.

Minor details to consider include how your test management tool operates and whether they will enhance the performance of your team and expectations. All testing will be enhanced when using best practices with test management tools.

From Defects, Implementations, Risks, to Requirements, your organization will benefit from testing and results from a test management tool versus operating manually. 

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