What is Test Monitoring and Test Control?
By Shreya Bose, Community Contributor - December 21, 2022
In order to ensure that test suites are running smoothly, QA managers and other senior personnel must implement management methodologies such as Test Monitoring and Test Control. These are essentially management practices that have to be put in place so that managers can monitor test progress and align it for maximum accuracy and efficiency.
Now, let’s explore each of these practices in detail.
What is Test Monitoring?
Test Monitoring is the process of evaluating and providing feedback on the test proceedings that are currently in progress. It comprises techniques to ensure that specific targets are met at every stage of testing so that they meet predetermined benchmarks and objectives.
Monitoring works by comparing the current status of testing-related tasks against a previously established plan and evaluating whether the process is yielding the expected results.
Test Monitoring involves:
- Offering feedback to the QA team and other stakeholders regarding the progress of sprint test cycles
- Conveying test results achieved so far to all relevant parties
- Identifying and tracking relevant test metrics
- Planning and Estimation to determine the future course of action based on the metrics being tracked
Relevant Test Metrics to be tracked
- Test Coverage Metrics
- Test Execution Metrics – Number of test cases that have passed, failed, been blocked, or are on hold
- Defect Metrics
- The cost of the project so far
- Resources consumed by the project so far
- Status of each task – on schedule, lagging, or ahead of schedule
- Requirement Traceability
When to collect data for Test Monitoring?
The frequency with which data should be collected for monitoring purposes depends on the nature of the project. For example, if the project is slated to be completed in one month, then it makes sense to collect monitoring data weekly. However, if the test suites are especially complicated and require close supervision, then data might have to be accrued twice a week or so.
How to evaluate progress through collected data?
It is best to establish the evaluation process in the monitoring plan laid out to teams at the beginning of the project so that they know exactly how their work will be judged. Two easy methods to define progress would be:
- Compare the progress stated in the test plan with the actual progress made by the team
- Look at the previously defined criteria to evaluate the project’s progress. For example, if the effort to complete a task was 20% higher than it was meant to be (according to the plan), that is a marker of how the project is progressing.
What is Test Control?
Test Control occurs based on the results of Test Monitoring. It refers to taking corrective action based on test monitoring reports to improve quality and efficiency. Some examples of test control activities would be:
- Prioritize testing efforts in a different way
- Reorganize test schedules and deadlines
- Restructure the test environment
- Reprioritize the test case and conditions
Test Control is essentially modifying the testing process so that it becomes better suited for meeting the defined objectives. This may require adding extra resources, reducing the scope of release or splitting the release into multiple releases, etc. Obviously, what specific test control activities will be implemented depends on a variety of factors – stakeholders’ opinions, budget, project complexity, availability of testers, and the like.
Test Control goes hand-in-hand with Test Monitoring. Obviously, once Monitoring identifies any bottlenecks that may prevent a test cycle from meeting its goals, Control activities will have to come into play to ensure otherwise.
Best Practices in Test Monitoring and Test Control
- Establish standards: Without establishing a set of benchmarks, objectives, and standards in the planning phase, Test Monitoring and in turn, Test Control cannot be performed. QA managers and other senior personnel must put these standards in place so that the testing team knows their individual and collective objectives. Setting down a standardized process guideline also gives the team a unified structure to follow while executing tasks. Standardized processes, tools, templates, and metrics make analysis easy, facilitate better communication, and help the team members navigate the project more efficiently.
Read More: How QAs can broaden their Testing Strategy: Best Practices
- Prioritize Documentation: Document everything – incident, test results, measurement values, minutes of stakeholder meetings, and control activities to fix bottlenecks. Testing operations, especially when they involve automation testing can be complicated. Extensive and detailed documentation, such as a Test Summary Report, is the best way to avoid miscommunications and keep all stakeholders on the same page.
- Be Proactive and Prepare for Change: Every testing project carries with it a high possibility of disruptions showing up in the midst of it. QA managers and testers have to go into test suites with a proactive mindset that is ready to adapt and resolve issues detected during execution. These issues can vary from the budget, time, quality, infrastructure, scope, and availability of human resources. Whatever the problem, it is best that testers expect them to occur and be prepared to deal with them.
The Role of Real Devices in Test Monitoring and Test Control
No matter the activity, all testing operations must be executed on real devices. Test Monitoring and Test Control can only be effective when tests are being run in real user conditions. Running them on emulators or simulators cannot provide 100% accurate results, and therefore QA managers won’t be able to evaluate the testing process with precision. Any results yielded from Test Monitoring would be only partially correct, and therefore Test Control activities based on these results will not modify the test cycle for maximum productivity.
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Whether manual testing or automated Selenium testing, real devices are non-negotiable in the testing equation. The device pool for testing must include not just the latest devices, such as iPhone 14 and Google Pixel 7 but also older legacy devices and browsers that are still active in the market. Since one can’t know which device will be used to access a website or app in a highly fragmented landscape, the more devices one can run tests on, the better.
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By running tests on a real device cloud, QA managers can take real user conditions into account while testing so that they achieve the desired accuracy in test results. Since Monitoring and Control are integral to shaping a highly functional test cycle, testers and managers utilize them in every project to ensure their success.