Why Use a Test Management Tool

Many companies can get by in the early stages without a test management tool.  Often testing is done ad hoc against features that are outlined in a requirement management tool like Rally and Version One, or a bug tracking tool like JIRA and Bugzilla.   In the early stages with a good development team using best practices of short development practices, good code review, and proper unit testing bugs won’t often slip through.  The code is small enough that the development team are on top of all the changes.  In the early stages compatibility is often not a factor of concern- whether the product works in all environments is not important since there are not customers to support, and/or only a few target customers that the team needs to support.

As the customer base grows, and/or the market expands ad hoc testing starts to show limitations as it misses coverage of more and more of the products functionality.  As the lines of code increases software developers lose track of the full scope of the code, and it becomes harder to anticipate the effects of a change.  As the hardware gets more complex, or the installed base grows, hardware teams must consider support of products in the field as well as the new hardware needed to keep up with market changes and capture new accounts.

Why not Excel?

Excel is a great first step; however, Excel does not allow organizations to centrally control test cases, making it hard to find and reuse test case assets to cover different user stories.  This leads to multiple versions of test cases and a lot of redundancy.  With Excel information is not available to everyone,  you have to send the excel sheets to each other, or store them in some central location that will likely  have its own limitations.  Trying to find the right set of test cases can turn into a problem as the project grows.  Reporting is perhaps the biggest challenge.  Teams using excel will often be using many different excel sheets to record results.  The results will not be visible until the are collated, and that takes time and usually requires the manager to do the bulk of the work.    One manager I spoke to testing mobile phone apps for a major carrier had to spend 1 day every two weeks just to gather the reports from testers in the field and put them in the proper format to then report to upper management on the progress.  Luckily the weekly report for the internal team only took an hour or two to generate.

These problems all become worse with distributed teams that not only need to share resources, but need to be assigned tasks as well.

At the highest level a test management tool will help any team with just the simple task of centralizing the test repository,  and automatically generating and updating reports.  Most come with at least some task / assignment management helping teams distribute the workload to become more efficient with the team’s resources.

Test Management tools like QMetry add true enterprise level version control, integration with bug tracking so developers can get high quality bug reports and QA can save time in re-entering steps to reproduce.  The rich reporting in advanced tools like QMetry also provide far more information to both the QA team and management to understand that status and progress of testing in real time.

New Tools for Agile Development

With today’s fast pace of development it is important to move and adapt to change.  With change comes risk, and that is what quality assurance is there to mitigate.  Some of the old traditional test management tools were bulky and required strict adherence to a formal procedure.  This was fine for long development cycles with ample time to test, but in today’s world most teams struggle for even extra few days of testing.  Many of the old tools emphasized long reports showing a full review of all testing to prove that testing was done.  Testing should never devolve into a CYA activity, instead a test management tool should empower the QA team to work in tandem with development and provide immediate feedback and reporting so quality and performance problems are identified in real time and can be acted upon in short order.

While QMetry has all the features to support a traditional development cycle it has been enhanced to provide function well with more fast paced teams that need to run with development and improve collaboration with the focus on improving quality and efficiency.  Teams can focus on testing not managing test assets, assigning tasks, or creating reports.

Enhancements to our eSignature Capability

We made a small, albeit important, enhancement to our eSignature capability recently. This enhancement ensures that whenever there is a change to a Test Case, that is covered by eSignature, it’s status automatically changes to a default value. Essentially, ensuring that it must executed and re-verified all over again.

Regular QMetry users are familiar with the option to reset the status of a Test Case when it is modified, the difference here is that the reset is mandated for all artifacts covered by eSignature.

eSignature is being very well-received from well-known companies in the life science, and other compliance-heavy, industries. We strongly urge you to take a close look at it to help achieve compliance with onerous regulations.

Will Agile accelerate Excel’s demise as a Test Management platform?

Excel has inherent limitations as a Test Management platform and these have been documented in multiple articles and forums. It has survived all these years on account of it’s “de facto” presence in most Enterprises as part of an installed Office Suite. The advent of mature Test Management platforms served as a catalyst for it’s appeal getting diminished amongst QA practitioners, as they began to experience the numerous benefits — Version Management, effective Test Automation, Integrations to ALM tools and powerful Reporting – that these platforms provided.

The great appeal, and adoption, of Agile as the SDLC of choice is accentuating this trend. Agile calls for testing software products that get built in short increments and thereby mandates that Testing products offer high levels of Automation, Granular reporting, very detailed Coverage traceability and easy accessibility of timely information to globally-distributed product teams. Precisely, the areas that Excel has severe shortcomings. And thereby, making Excel more and more obsolete as a Test Management platform.

If you are using Excel, we strongly recommend you trial QMetry or attend one of our weekly demos to learn how can introduce new efficiencies into your testing processes.

Quality Assurance or Quality Control

An interesting article from message boards frequented by PMP aspirants piqued our interest enough for us to give more introspection functional areas we appeal to the most.

The article opines that:

  • In Quality Assurance, processes are planned to avoid the defects and assure quality. And that, it is a proactive approach.
  • Quality Control deals with finding the defects and correcting them while making the product. And that, it is more reactive in nature.

Really, QMetry’s Test Management platform holds strong appeal to both of these areas. Proactive QA groups uses techniques like Test Driven Development (TDD) to defined test cases first, and developers write code that meets the need of these test cases. For Quality Control practitioners, QMetry offers a powerful way to execute test cases, either manually or through automation tools, and then save results. Further, our strong integrations with defect tracking tools like JIRA enable developers to quickly identify the root-case of a defect and to rectify them easily.

 

 

Adding Electronic Signatures to a Test Case Lifecycle

We have quite a few customers in compliance-heavy industries like HealthCare and Financial Services. They often have nuanced feature needs that enable them to comply with strict regulations like FDA.

To address the needs of one of these customers, we recently added a feature that can best be described as an electronic signature. Think of it as an audit trail. Essentially it involved the creation of a new field called “Status Changed” for each Test Case artifact. Whenever the status of a Test Case changes, the person making the change has to electronically signoff on the change, and the Status Changed field then reflects the latest value. A typical use case of this would be when an Approver (often different from the Test Case author) logs in and validates that all the information in the Test Case is accurate and up to desired standards.

Our product specialists demonstrate this along with other cool features in our Weekly Webinars. Sign up now and start learning about the benefits of Total Test Management!

Implementing Agile in QMetry Development

Our global development team is constantly at work developing and enhancing our powerful Test Management platform. Frequently, they have to address unique customer needs for customization or the necessity to address bugs through patches/upgrades. Also,custom features go through a few iterations, and each build is often demonstrated to the customer to solicit feedback.

Essentially, their development milieu classically lends itself to adopting Agile processes. And that’s exactly what they have done, by implementing Scrum across the entire development and QA teams . By implementing Jira Agile, they define each feature/improvement as a User Story with estimated Story points. The Plan Tab is used to assign User Stories from the backlog into Sprints. Further, swim lanes have been developed to track the progress of the Sprint:

  • To Do
  • In Progress
  • Resolved
  • Ready to QA
  • Closed

A typical Sprint runs two weeks and always results in a Potentially Shippable Product Increment (PSPI). Implementing Agile has greatly improved the productivity of the team and most importantly enabled it to align closely with the needs of the marketplace.

Is there a thing as Agile Culture

This provocatively titles LinkedIn Group question predictably generated a lot of comments and discussion.

We thought we’d weigh in here too. Our philosophy is in line with classical Agile thinking: Agile is really about culture as much as it is about processes and tools. The culture emphasizes better collaboration between all internal stakeholders and especially between an organization and it’s customers, it is predicated on finding and fixing bugs early to reduce wasted resources and money, it rewards properly functioning software delivered in small increments that is aligned with constantly changing needs, and places a strong premium on delivering business value to a customer above all else.

QMetry addresses these needs by features like Continuous Testing and strong integrations with Automation tools. We also make it very easy to use our Software with market-leading ALM tools like Rally and Jira Agile. Thereby helping you become Agile at all steps of your product lifecycle!

Reflections from Starwest

We’re still wrapping up a busy last week. Part of our Team had gone to Starwest at Anaheim to attend an SQE conference.

Both of these events proved to be tremendously valuable for getting valuable insights into how the QA landscape is evolving. We’re generally glad to hear about the tremendous growth in information in Test Management tools like QMetry; and how QA practitioners are actively using these to make their teams more productive and central to the product life cycles. We’re definitively seeing a steady trend towards more automation especially in Geographies where it’s continually proving difficult to hire good Software Testers.

Our BD Team had several tete-a-tete with potential partners and we see a continuing trend of their end-clients wanting to move away from bloated, expensive, and inadequately supported Test Management platforms. QMetry is constantly addressing this need by building a state-of-the art Test Management platform that integrates well with adjacent ALM products, is easy to use, and is affordable.

We also attended the Atlassian Summit on those same days in San Francisco. I’ll write on this in a separate post.

 

Our LinkedIn User Group is now active

We’ve added another medium to educate you on QMetry best practices, customers experiences and similar useful educational information. Welcome to our new LinkedIn Users Group!

We intend to add useful tips and tricks, as well as some real-world examples on how QMetry is being used by QA groups in the real-world to speed up their testing cycles.? We will also help you understand how QMetry can help you conduct true Agile Testing, of how it can help you get detailed coverage, and in general how it can help your QA team become an integral part of the product creation cycle.

Wait no further. Come join the action.

 

 

QMetry 5.5 is here

Let the drum rolls begin! QMetry 5.5 is out. After months of hard work and burning the proverbial midnight oil, our product team has released this enhanced version of our market-leading Test Management platform.

The release plenty of new capabilities designed to delight QA groups and help them make their lives easier by enabling to Test faster and faster. And there’s something for everyone: a new Build reports for Agile Teams, an improved UI to help navigate through different product areas, numerous metrics for QA managers to keep tabs on important developments, and helpful new messaging capability for QMetry admins to relay important messages to the entire team.

The centerpiece is probably our powerful, new Advanced Search Capability that allows users to define search criteria by combining multiple parameters through Boolean operators, and even use exclusion criteria to exclude certain Test artifacts. This feature was developed in response to a major Fortune 500 customer that want to search by a complex set of criteria and persist these criteria as a ‘Saved search’ in Test Suites.

That’s not all. API’s have been improved t0 create Requirements and to list Test Cases; and true to form we’ve added new integrations – with Assembla’s defect tracking platform and we’ve begun work on integrating with VersionOne’s Agile project management platform.

Well, enough said here. Please go on over to our Release Notes page to get more details or simply dive in with a Free Trial and start enjoying these capabilities.

 

 

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