Test management for large, multi-project teams

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There are a few simple things that test management teams can use to improve processes and ensure that everyone is on track.

Software development teams have become important assets to many organizations, but as these groups get bigger, it’s often harder to maintain complete control over all aspects of a program’s life cycle. Having multiple projects at the same time can also hamper the team’s ability to successfully devote enough time to each initiative, potentially affecting how many issues are present after release. While this may sound like a cause to worry, there are a few simple things that test management teams can use to improve processes and ensure that everyone is on track.

Communication and collaboration
For any successful project, requirements must be set in order to give testers and developers a mark to aim for. Without any established objectives, teams will not be able to work as effectively together. Therefore, stakeholders, users, developers and quality assurance members must get together and determine what types of metrics they’re looking for, what procedures should be instituted and how the resulting data will be reported. ClickZ contributor Jim Sterne noted that for some larger organizations – take eBay for example – there could be over 100 tests running at any given time, which can make it a challenge to know which to look at first. However, with a set vision and mission of the company, strategic priorities can be incorporated.

“First, determine if there is money on the table,” Sterne wrote. “If this test doesn’t impact the bottom line, find one that does. Finally, see where the request for the test is coming from.”

Delegation of tasks
Large teams must work like a finely tuned watch, with all gears and cogs turning and performing as expected. This starts with ensuring that the responsibilities are divided up among employees in a fair, reasonable way. TechTarget contributor Lisa Crispin noted that allocating software projects by platform is often an easy way to not only remain consistent, but also to portion out tasks. However, this process will often take considerable effort and communication to do successfully. By including everyone from project managers and business development to testers and system administrators, a plan for a successful app can be established as well as strategies to make the software testing lifecycle easier and quicker.

“Slicing and dicing up programs and projects takes a team effort,” Crispin wrote. “Time-boxed brainstorming meetings are one good way to start looking at the business project portfolio and thinking about ways to divide and conquer.”

Report and document
While testing is all about sifting through data to find meaningful insight, documenting software testing lifecycle will be a significant asset to the operation of a larger team with multiple projects. If more than one QA member is working on an application, for example, there is the possibility that they may run the same tests, creating redundancies in reports and other information. However, by documenting and tracking these functions, QA teams will mitigate this possibility and boost their overall efficiency.

Quality assurance teams should also consistently generate reports based on their run cases. Dell executive director of global online, Emily Campbell, told Sterne that organizations should make their strategic goals their top priorities, followed by business initiatives and lastly, items that will have the biggest immediate impact. These classifications will help determine whether an information is useful or just for show.

“The bottom of the funnel is narrow,” Sterne wrote. “The tasks are limited. The results are instantly ascertained. The top of the funnel is vague and the results of top-of-funnel tests may take months to determine.”

In a large team that has numerous projects to take care of at once, it can be difficult to keep everything running smoothly. However, by delegating tasks, documenting changes and encouraging collaboration, test management will be much easier to facilitate and maintain.