Drop Excel as a test management solution

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QA officials may be enticed to use Excel as a test case development platform, but performance issues will inhibit testing duties.

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Like any other business, money talks in the software development game. One of the primary concerns across the industry is shortening production cycles and reducing development costs. This is why so many QA management officials have opted to integrate a test case management tool with their legacy systems. These solutions have proven time and again that they can help testers accelerate the evaluation process and assist developers on a smaller budget. However, some organizations take their pursuit of lower operational costs too far and choose to use existing Excel software to create test scripts. In the short term, this makes sense financially as there’s no additional cost of investment since most companies will already have these tools on hand. In this instance, however, you get what you pay for, and entrusting QA duties to Excel worksheets will result in a diminished testing capability and lower the quality of the finished product.

Functionality issues impede QA efforts
Once testers have begun to use Excel in their daily activities, they may find that the software presents several challenges, particularly when attempting to integrate the various components of the software testing process. Software tester Thomas Ponnet discussed his team’s poor experience with Excel in a post for the Software Testing Club. He explained that the lack of automation features forced testers to manually link test cases, requiring his team to spend valuable time on these processes. Also, the software did not provide sufficient reporting and oversight capabilities, preventing employees from viewing fundamental test metrics, including the number of tests that had been scripted as well as test execution, pass and fail figures.

Without an overarching view of these metrics, key decision-makers ranging from QA management to C-suite executives will be unable to accurately gauge the effectiveness of their testing efforts. By measuring various aspects of these processes on both granular and holistic levels, organizational leaders can better determine if QA teams are optimized for success or require changes to be made.

Quality assurance professional Eric Jacobson voiced similar concerns with this software on Test this Blog. Again, team members expressed frustrations with their inability to automate certain features that resulted in needless manual intervention. He also noted that the performance of the test software itself presented usability issues.

“One of the most annoying parts of our Test Manager trial may have been its usability and performance,” Jacobson stated. “The screens frequently hung, causing some testers to force quit and re-launch. The navigation was also awkward. It took too many clicks to get anything done.”

While Excel may offer a low cost of investment, a sophisticated test management platform presents a better long term ROI. For instance, test management software that runs inside a system such as JIRA can automate many of the processes that stifled both Ponnet and Jacobson, leading to shorter testing processes and reduced labor costs.

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