50 Ideas to Improve your Test Management Process – Part 5

February 22, 2013

That week flew by and we’re already on the last 10 ideas to help improve your test management process. Hopefully you’ll get some inspiration from the last 10 ideas this week.

Provide a portal for external parties – There are many other stakeholders interested in the QA process. If they’re interested, then the question is just how involved are they? Would their involvement benefit or hinder your QA efforts? In many cases the actual involvement of dev in helping asses areas for testing is a huge benefit. The involvement of project managers we’d all probably agree is a bit of a pain. There are many other parties (e.g. end users) that can contribute to help you get the most out of your QA efforts though. Talk to them and find a way to improve the way you work together.

Collaboration tools – With distributed teams being the norm these days collaboration is key. Tools to support collaboration can make a huge difference. I’ve already mentioned Jing (screen capture and recording), but we can include chat applications, skype, GoToMeeting, web based task management and online calenders. There are many more out there all of which can have a big impact on how well your team works together. Don’t forget though that sometimes it’s not just about the tools. Sometimes just forcing people to get together face to face can have a big impact on the level of collaboration too.

Defect tracking integration – Developers are usually committed to their own development tools and defect tracking tools. If you’re using one test management tool and developers another defect tracking tool it’s time to look at integration. If you want to see traceability between requirements, defects and testcases then you need to have up to date data on defects. That means sync’ing tools. There are a number of great integration tools out their now. These tools support integration between a huge range of systems. It’s worth investigating because you’ll find it easier to setup than you think.

Extend testcase creation to other teams – Give other teams, outside of the QA group, access to your test management tool. At least give them access to create and suggest ideas for testcases. You’ll want to implement a review process (formal or informal) to evaluate the suggestions. The key is just to get those suggestions following. You may find that 80% of them are already covered or of no use. 20% may well be invaluable though.

Remove unnecessary process steps – I’m a fan of starting out simple. If you keep it simple it’s always easier to add. If you start out with a complex process it’s always more difficult to simplify things. If you already have a complex process then why not start from scratch? Define the simplest process you think you could work with and then compare it to what you currently have. The more you simplify things the more liberated your team will feel to focus on what matters.

Test Environment tracking/scheduling – Many teams are limited by the QA environment resources they have. When resources are tight people fight over what they need. Implement somethign as simple as an online calendar. Or get more sophisticated and purchase a tool dedicated to managing resource allocation. You may already have the capability in your test management tool and just aren’t utilising it. The big advantage of formally tracking this is that you build up evidence to support requests to increase the resource you have deployed.

Prioritise testcases – This is a simple one but it’s surprising how many teams ignore it. With prioritisation comes the ability to focus on what’s important first. With many test management systems you can look through testcases and see exactly how many bugs have been created from specific testcases. With this information you can see the types and specific testcases that should be given high priorities. You might also look at areas of the application that have a high change rate. Some test management tools will even show you the source code control commits to specific modules which shows you exactly where change is taking place. Once you’ve identified areas of high change you can focus and prioritise areas to be run first.

Asses staff contentment – In the heat of battle it’s easy to forget about the moral of your troops. How many times in the past month have you spent time talking one-to-one with people on your team about how happy they are? Just asking can make a big difference in many cases. And the more you ask the better the picture you build up of what can be done to help improve things. Show people you care and ask them how things are going.

Compare product release stats – At the end of most sports games a team will evaluate their performance. They’ll note areas where they performed well and carry that forward. They’ll note areas where performance wasn’t so good and make changes. If you complete these sorts of evaluations against the back drop of product release stats you get an even better picture of how you are performing. Perhaps a project you thought your QA team performed particularly well with was for a product release where the end user had lots of serious issues. If this is the case maybe your analysis isn’t quite as accurate as you thought.

Training – It’s easy to forget just how important training is. It doesn’t have to be formal going off site training. It can just be 10 minutes sitting down with a subject matter expert to learn a bit more. Either way keeping your teams skills current and relevant is essential to motivation and performance. For example if your team don’t understand how to use the test management system correctly then there’s a high probability that the data they’re entering is wrong. That means the reports you’re generating are wrong. Ultimately if you’re acting on this wrong information it means your actions are probably wrong too. A well trained team has bigger benefits than just a motivated team. The benefits manifest themselves in many other areas of the teams performance too.

We’ll that’s it for 50 ideas to improve your test management process. Hope you found some useful ideas amongst them. Rather than just move onto something else now why not scan through them all again now? Scan through them and pick 3 ideas that you’re going to work on this month.