Traditional waterfall testing methodologies served as a sort of final hurdle that software had to clear before being designated as ready for market. For this reason, testers haven't necessarily been the most well-supported team. In essence, their job is to point out what is wrong with all the hard work that has been done up to that point. Furthermore, these defects or bugs might not be quick and easy fixes.
Nevertheless, test management is vital to the software development process and should be treated thusly. Here are a few key considerations that make for an environment that supports software testing.
In years past, software development mirrored a factory assembly line. Different teams were responsible for overseeing completion of specific tasks. As a result, workflows were not always as contextual as they should have been. Once a certain task was complete, the deliverable continued to move down the line until it reached testing. By taking place at the end of the project, testing was arguably the most isolated process in software development, and therefore received very little support from other teams.
It is for this reason that DevOps culture is arguably the best thing that could have possibly happened for testers. For one thing, test management is included in the software development process from the very start. QA teams can preempt the nature of the scripts that will have to be run down the line, which ultimately helps expedite the testing life cycle. Once the development process actually begins, inclusion of testing teams in each step further improves collaboration. In addition to reinforcing the significance of software testing, this integrates test management into the project in such a way that reduces the potential for contention between siloed departments - in many ways, this is the first step toward agile.
"Even in organizations where the tension is not as pronounced, there can be a general lack of good communication between development and test," TechTarget contributor Yvette Francino writes. "Working on agile teams where there is more of a partnership between a developer and tester helps."
Encourage broad skill sets
Once silos have been dissolved, new opportunity arises for agile software development. For example, continuous delivery and test-driven development - which Capgemini defines as development that occurs in direct response to pre-written test cases - enter the realm of possibility. From here, testing methodologies and development processes can be further refined for improved collaboration. The result is increased potential for the creation of a fluid out-of-the-box solution for end users.
However, collaborative structures do not necessarily equate to streamlined communication if no one is speaking the same language. For this reason, Francino notes that it's important for development and testing teams to not only understand the role of their counterparts, but to have some granular knowledge of their processes.
"By also learning the art of exploratory testing and other testing skills, such as performance testing and security testing, the developer will know better how to design his code, not just for fewer defects, but for testability," Francino writes. "Likewise, the tester who learns the craft of software development will be highly valued."
This further embeds testing into the development process in such a way that it is not put on the back burner, and that it can contribute its full potential to a product.
Use reliable test management tools
Breaking down old barriers and melding skills to improve communication is only possible assuming that QA teams are leveraging tools that can sustain this culture. For this reason, test management software has a huge bearing on a team's ability to garner more support for software testing.
For example, test tracking is essential for staying on top of test cases, and do so in a way that is manageable for testers and developers alike. An organized, digestible testing dashboard minimizes the risk of creating confusion within and among teams. Likewise, real-time reporting features help ensure that everyone is always on the same page, and that issues can be addressed quickly and efficiently.
Testing automation can also significantly expedite QA processes by automatically running repetitive test cases on an as-needed basis. Automatic regression testing, for instance, vets each iteration of a project to guarantee that alterations have not introduced new bugs. The ultimate goal here is to detect problems early and fix them as quickly as possible, rather than having to handle them in an unmanageable batch toward the end of the process - automation integration helps achieve this objective.
Collaboration, communication and efficiency converge within the right test management tool. The result is streamlined QA processes that substantially contribute to the integrity of a finished project by queuing fixes during each phase of development. In turn, this makes for a faster time to market and a higher-functioning solution for customers.