What is Test Management: Benefits, Challenges, & Best Practices
By Vivek Mannotra, Community Contributor - June 13, 2023
Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), and its underlying industry-standards, are broad abstractions designed to help teams, trying to write efficient code, achieve success and clarity through continued research, innovation, debate and analysis.
Of its many pillars, Testing and Test Management turn out to be real game-changers when understood and managed properly in website and mobile development use-cases.
Continue reading to learn more.
What is Test Management
The development of software solutions involves complex processes and numerous elements that require a well-coordinated approach.
A crucial part of these processes/sub-processes is testing where it passed, where It failed and where more work is needed. This ensures that the software product is reliable, secure, and meets all documented requirements.
Test management refers to the process of planning, developing, maintaining, and reporting on software testing activities within a project.
Read More: Understanding Test Case Management
Why is Test Management important in SDLC?
As automation testing continue to rise in popularity, QA leads have to manage a lot more test cases than they used to with manual testing, and other factors like increasing types of device platforms are also contributing to this.
The introduction of test case programming into the world of QA through automation testing is also leading many teams to adopt comprehensive solutions for a reliable test case management and execution system.
Test management is a subset of testing hence its importance derives from the role of testing broadly:
- Quality Assurance: Test management ensures that your product or software meets the desired quality standards. High-quality software can give your organization a competitive edge in the digital economy, where users expect smooth, bug-free experiences.
- Risk Mitigation: By identifying potential risks early in the development process, test management can help save both time and money. Fixing a major issue at the end of the development process, or after deployment, can be significantly more expensive and damaging to your brand than addressing it at the testing stage.
- Efficient Use of Resources: Test management allows you to strategically allocate your resources, including time, money, and workforce. Through proper test planning and prioritization, you can focus your resources on areas that need them most.
- Customer Satisfaction: An effective test management process will enhance the end user’s experience by ensuring the product works as intended and is free of major bugs or issues. Satisfied customers are more likely to recommend your product, helping your product to grow organically.
- Improved Communication and Collaboration: Test management can help improve the communication between developers, testers, and other stakeholders by creating a clear process for reporting and addressing issues.
- Compliance and Security: In many industries, software products must meet specific regulations or standards. Effective test management ensures compliance with these standards, thus avoiding potential penalties.
Responsibilities of Test Management in SDLC
The way in which test management is carried out defines the kind of outcomes that can be expected from the efforts put into it, but there are some common responsibilities associated with the activity:
- Ensure high-quality code: Unit testing is testing performed by developers to test their own work. Plus, knowing what testers look for when evaluating software can guide you to write code that’s more robust and easier to maintain and debug.
- Understand the full picture: Recognizing the role of testing in the overall project can provide you with a more comprehensive understanding of the SDLC. You’ll see where your work fits into the larger project, and how each phase influences the others.
- Communicate effectively: Understanding the testing process can enhance your collaboration with the QA team, leading to more efficient issue resolution and a smoother overall process.
- Develop user-focused software: Testing often involves evaluating the software from a user’s perspective. By understanding the importance of testing and the user experience, you’ll learn to design and develop software with the end-user in mind.
Read More: Roles and Responsibilities of a Test Manager
Test Management Process
Test management is how you manage the testing activity for your QA team. How you do it for your case completely depends on how quality is defined for your case. However there are some general steps through which we can look at the overall process:
Phases in Test management
Phases in test management are roughly analogous to the phases of the SDLC:
1. Requirement Analysis: Understanding the requirements and establishing clear testing objectives.
- Risk Analysis: Identification and assessment of potential risks in the project at various levels like APIs, UI, 3rd party and other cyber threats.
- Test Estimation: Determination of the effort and resources required for testing.
2. Test Planning: Developing a strategic approach to testing, identifying the necessary resources, and estimating timelines. During the planning phase, test management activities include:
- Test Plan Documentation: Development of a strategic plan outlining the testing approach, resources, schedule, and deliverables.
- Test Organization: Structuring the test team and assigning roles and responsibilities.
3. Test Design and Development: Creating detailed test cases and scripts based on the test plan.
4. Test Execution: Conducting the actual tests, logging defects, and reporting on the test status. The execution phase encompasses:
- Test Monitoring and Control: Supervision of running testing activities and adjustments to the test plan as needed.
- Issue Management: Handling of any problems or defects discovered during testing.
- Test Report and Evaluation: Assessment of testing outcomes and documentation of results.
5. Test Closure: Evaluating the test cycle, documenting the learnings, and making recommendations for future projects.
Proper test management ensures that each stage of the SDLC receives the necessary testing attention.
Benefits and Challenges of Test Management
Agile methodologies, a leading paradigm in application development, is characterized by its ability to adapt to changes. The test management process in Agile can be designed to embrace this adaptability.
Benefits of Test Management
Here are the benefits you can get out of the effort :
- Clarity and Organization: A well-defined test management system brings structure to the often chaotic process of software testing, organizing cases, plans, and suites in an orderly fashion.
- Efficiency Boost: Centralizing the tracking and monitoring of all testing activities reduces redundancies and boosts team efficiency.
- Incremental Test Planning: Testing is not a phase that happens after development; it’s an ongoing activity. Test plans should be flexible and iterative to accommodate changes. Modern test management systems allows for this flexibility and much more.
- Visualization Driven Test Prioritization: Not every test case needs to be run for every change. Prioritize test cases based on risk, the importance of the functionality, and the areas of the application most likely to be affected by the change.
- Risk Mitigation: By identifying problematic areas early on, test management allows for proactive risk management, potentially saving both time and resources.
- Accelerated Feedback Loop: Quick feedback from early testing allows for faster resolution of bugs, enhancing the quality of the final product.
- Better Resource Allocation: Understanding the progress and performance of each testing activity aids in more effective allocation and utilization of resources.
- Traceability: Ensuring each requirement is linked to its corresponding test case, test management provides clear traceability, vital for regulated industries.
- Test-Driven Development (TDD): In TDD, developers write tests before they write the corresponding code. This approach can help ensure that your application is thoroughly tested, even as changes are made.
- Customer Satisfaction: By ensuring a well-tested, high-quality product, test management ultimately drives higher customer satisfaction and trust.
- Compliance Assurance: For teams operating in sectors with stringent regulations, test management facilitates compliance by maintaining organized and accessible documentation of all testing activities.
Challenges in Test Management
Understanding the limitations of test management requires a nuanced examination of both human and tooling factors.
The complexity of modern software, the diverse needs of different teams, and the inherent unpredictability of development and testing processes mean that no test management process or tool can be perfect.
- Skill and Understanding: Test management requires a comprehensive understanding of both the software being developed and the process of software testing.
- Communication and Collaboration: Miscommunication or misunderstandings can lead to errors in testing, missed defects, or inefficient use of resources.
- Bias and Assumptions: Confirmation bias may lead testers to unconsciously favor test cases that confirm their expectations, while overlooking those that might challenge them. Other biases can cause human errors in test management.
- Usability and Learning Curve: Some test management tools can be complex and difficult to use, leading to user errors or inefficient workflows.
- Scalability and Performance: Not all tools can scale efficiently with growing project sizes or increasing team sizes. This can limit the speed and effectiveness of testing as the project grows.
- Integration: Tools that do not integrate well with other tools in the development environment can limit the effectiveness of test management. For example, if a test management tool does not integrate with a test automation system, managing defects found during testing could become cumbersome.
- Customizability and Flexibility: Some tools may not offer the flexibility to be tailored to specific project needs or workflows. This can lead to inefficiencies or workarounds, limiting the effectiveness of test management.
How to perform Test Management
Test management plays a crucial role throughout the various stages and modalities of software testing :
- At this earliest stage, developers usually carry out tests on individual units or components of the software.
- Test management involves tracking these tests to ensure each unit has been adequately tested, establishing standards for writing and documenting tests
- And potentially integrating these tests into a continuous integration system for automatic execution.
- In this stage, individual functions of the software are tested to ensure they behave as expected.
- Test management involves organizing and prioritizing functional tests based on the functionality’s importance, tracking the execution and results of these tests
- Ensuring that any issues found are properly logged and addressed.
- Integration testing verifies that different components of the software work correctly when combined.
- Test management in this stage involves planning the integration testing strategy (like top-down, bottom-up, or sandwich), keeping track of what has been tested and what hasn’t
- Ensuring that issues found are communicated to the right team members for resolution.
- This stage involves testing the software to ensure it meets the user’s needs and requirements.
- Test management here involves coordinating with stakeholders, defining acceptance criteria.
- This phase marks the end of agile mindset as fixing issue post acceptance means heavy cost to business, hence changes are broken into batched releases.
- Tracking the execution and results of tests, and managing any high-priority issues found.
In every stage and modality of testing, test management’s key role is to ensure that testing activities are well-planned, organized, tracked, and that they provide valuable feedback to the development team.
Next most important decision after finalizing the relevant test phases/stages, are the platforms/tools for testing and test management.
What is a Test Management tool?
There are several popular test management tools that development and QA teams use to streamline their testing processes. The “best” tool can vary depending on your specific needs, budget, and the size and complexity of your project.
Features of a great Test Management Tool
Here are some hallmarks of a great test management process, system, or tool:
- Comprehensive Coverage: It should be able to manage all aspects of testing, including test case creation, test execution, tracking, defect logging, and reporting.
- Ease of Use: The tool or system should be user-friendly and intuitive. The learning curve for new users should be as short as possible.
- Scalability: The tool or process should be scalable and capable of handling both small and large projects without a significant drop in performance or efficiency.
- Real-time Tracking and Reporting: It should offer real-time tracking of testing progress and generate insightful reports to aid decision-making.
- Integration Capabilities: It should easily integrate with other tools used by the team, such as project management tools, bug tracking systems, and CI/CD tools.
- Support for Collaboration: The tool should support seamless collaboration among team members. Features like shared dashboards, notification systems, and role-based access can enhance teamwork.
- Customizability: The ability to customize workflows, fields, and reports to suit the specific needs of the team or project is highly beneficial.
- Support for Automated Testing: Given the importance of automated testing in modern software development, the tool should ideally support or integrate with popular test automation tools.
- Version Control: It should offer version control for test cases and other documents, ensuring that team members always have access to the most recent and accurate information.
- Secure and Reliable: The tool or process should be secure and reliable, protecting sensitive data and being consistently available for use.
A great test management process or tool isn’t just about having a range of features. It should fit well with the team’s workflow, be conducive to productivity, and ultimately help the team deliver a high-quality software product.
How to find the right Test Management Tool?
Designing or selecting test management tools and processes to accommodate various factors requires a thoughtful approach, considering both the specific requirements of your project and the capabilities of the tool or process.
Here’s how you might consider some of the factors discussed:
- Test Environments: Ensure your tool or process allows you to set up, manage, and tear down different test environments. This could involve supporting different configurations, allowing you to import/export environment settings, or integrating with virtualization tools.
- Training and Skill Development: Look for tools that are user-friendly and have good documentation, tutorials, and customer support. A tool that aligns with the skill set of your team will also be easier to adopt. Your process should also include time for learning and skill development.
- Regulatory and Compliance Testing: If you’re in an industry with specific compliance needs, you need to ensure that your tool/process supports the required types of testing and documentation.
- Security Testing: Tools should allow for security testing protocols or integrate with security testing tools. Your process should include regular security testing and updates.
- Performance and Load Testing: Tools that allow for or integrate with performance and load testing can be beneficial. The process should schedule regular performance and load tests, especially before product releases.
- Accessibility Testing: Look for a tool that supports accessibility testing, or can integrate with tools that do. Your process should include accessibility testing as part of the regular testing cycle.
- Costs Involved: When selecting a tool, consider both the upfront cost and ongoing costs like licensing or subscription fees, support costs, and the cost of any necessary hardware or additional software. Consider the efficiency gains and potential cost savings that a tool could bring to your process.
- Measurement and Metrics: Choose a tool that provides robust reporting and analytics. Your process should define key metrics to track, and schedule regular reviews of these metrics.
Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for test management. What’s most important is that the tools and processes you choose support the specific needs of your project and team.
Take the time to fully evaluate any potential tools, including running a trial or pilot project if possible, before making your final decision.
Best Practices for Test Management
Setting up an effective test management process can significantly improve the quality of your software product and the efficiency of your development team:
- Define Clear Goals: Understand what you aim to achieve with your testing efforts. Is it to increase test coverage, find bugs, validate functionality, or all of the above? Clear objectives will guide your strategy.
- Develop a Test Plan: A test plan provides a roadmap for your testing activities, specifying what will be tested, who will do the testing, and how testing will be carried out.
- Prioritize Tests: It’s often not possible (or necessary) to test everything. Prioritize your tests based on factors such as risk, functionality importance, and usage frequency.
- Encourage Collaboration: Testing shouldn’t be siloed from the rest of the development process. Encourage communication between testers, developers, and other stakeholders.
- Use the Right Tools: Use a test management tool that fits your team’s needs and integrates well with your other tools. This can greatly improve efficiency and streamline your testing process.
- Incorporate Automated Testing: Automated testing can save time and effort, especially for regression testing and other repetitive tasks. It can also increase coverage and reduce the risk of human error.
- Don’t Neglect Training: Make sure your team understands the testing process and how to use your test management tools. Neglecting training can lead to confusion, mistakes, and inefficiency.
- Don’t Ignore Metrics: Test metrics can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your testing efforts and the quality of your software. Ignoring them can mean missing out on opportunities for improvement.
- Don’t Forget About Documentation: Proper documentation is key to tracking test activities and ensuring everyone is on the same page. It can also be a lifesaver when someone new joins the team or when you need to review past tests.
- Don’t Disregard User Feedback: Users can provide invaluable insights that you may not get from your testing efforts.
- Don’t Overlook Non-Functional Testing: While functional testing is crucial, don’t overlook non-functional testing aspects like performance, usability, and security.
In the dynamic realm of software development, maintaining quality assurance is paramount. A key element in this process is effective test case management, which is where BrowserStack’s Test Management tool excels.
A highlight of BrowserStack Test Management is its two-way binding with Jira, making it easier to manage issues and maintain visibility across both platforms. Teams can quickly update their testing strategies by importing thousands of test artifacts via APIs or by uploading standard JUnit-XML/BDD-JSON reports.
The platform provides robust support for test case tagging, helping teams categorize and filter their automated test cases more efficiently. With its integration capabilities with CI/CD tools and popular testing automation frameworks, teams can scale their automation efforts effectively.
The tool also offers real-time insights via its rich, actionable dashboards, keeping teams updated about their releases and testing trends. The integration with BrowserStack Test Observability provides deeper performance insights, helping teams strive for constant improvement.