In the field of app testing, QA managers and other senior testing professionals must implement different test management approaches such as test monitoring and control to ensure that the test suite runs smoothly. These essential management strategies are required by the managers to track and align the test progress for optimal accuracy and efficiency.
What Is Test Monitoring?
Test monitoring is a test execution process in which all testing activities and efforts are evaluated to:
- Track the current progress and find and track testing metrics
- Estimate future actions based on test data
- Provide feedback on the progress of the testing process with regard to teams and stakeholders
Test monitoring information can be collected manually or automatically, and it can be used to assess exit criteria like coverage. Testers apply various techniques to guarantee that targets are achieved at each level to meet predefined benchmarks and objectives. In other words, test monitoring compares the actual state of testing activities to the anticipated goal and offers information as to whether the process is producing the desired results.
What Does Test Monitoring Include?
Test monitoring involves providing feedback on the status of the test processes to the QA and other related teams. It also includes:
- Updating the test goals achieved so far
- Identifying and tracking relevant test data
- Planning and projecting a plan of action based on the metrics tracked
Common Test Monitoring Metrics
The most commonly used test monitoring metrics include:
- Test case execution metrics
- Percentage of scheduled test cases prepared and percentage of test environment preparation finished (including tests executed or not executed, failed or passed)
- Defect information (density of defects, discovered, resolved or unresolved, failure rate, retest outcomes, etc.)
- Test coverage metrics
- Test deadlines
- Test project cost, based on a cost-benefit analysis of detecting the next problem or running the next test
- Requirement tracking
- Consumption of resources in the project
When to Collect Data for Test Monitoring
The frequency of collecting the test data depends on the project you are working on. If your project is due in a month, it is logical to collect weekly data for monitoring. Gathering data twice a week is also a great idea if you want to get prompt updates about the project. If your test suites are complicated and require extra attention, it is vital to constantly monitor.
How to Evaluate Progress Through Collected Data
It is preferable to establish the evaluation plan at the start of the project, ie, when the monitoring plan is provided to teams so that they are aware of what is expected of them and how they will be evaluated.
You can define progress by these simple methods:
1. Comparing the team’s planned vs. actual progress
2. Assess the project’s performance using the previously established criteria. If the actual effort exceeds the projected effort, the project is moving forward.
Why Do We Monitor?
Let us consider a scenario to help understand this. Imagine that following the test estimation and planning, the team committed the project’s milestones and deadlines to higher management. The project is delayed as a result of an unforeseen setback, and the team misses milestones and deadlines. The project fails as a result, and you lose a customer. Now you will have to deal with the consequences. It means that no matter how well you plan, something will go wrong, which is why you must monitor the project carefully.
- Test monitoring can help you manage deviations by discovering and addressing them as early as possible.
- Monitoring allows you to inform management about the exact status of the project and how well it adheres to the set milestones.
- It enables project managers to maintain track of the project’s progress and, if necessary, make resource and budget adjustments accordingly.
Test monitoring helps prevent serious problems from occurring. By keeping a watch on each activity of the testing process, you as a manager can make necessary readjustments to the plans and actions to mitigate the impact of losses that could otherwise occur.
What Is Test Control?
Following test monitoring, test control is performed. It is about taking remedial steps based on test monitoring data to improve project efficiency and quality. Once you have created the test plan, you can control the ongoing activity. The test manager can control the activities only if the testing schedule and monitoring frameworks have been set. It allows them to track the testing process and resources used so far versus the plan.
Why Do You Need Test Control?
Humans cannot control everything unless and until everything runs well from beginning to end. Similarly, in the field of quality engineering, you design the project that must be delivered to the client on time. The teams, on the other hand, frequently fail to achieve project deadlines due to a variety of circumstances. Some of these may include:
- A discrepancy in the software product’s functionality may necessitate additional time to fix the issue
- Adding or eliminating requirements and specifications as per the stakeholder
- Unavoidable circumstances may cause delays in the schedule; one of the factors here could be rescheduling work hours
Test Control Activities
First and foremost, we must understand the sequential actions that a tester must undertake for test control:
- Review and analyze the current state of the test cycle; This could comprise the number of tests executed, the severity of the defects, the errors covered, and the number of tests passed or failed
- Observe and record or document the progress of the test cycle to inform the development team of the test status (inclusive of coverage and exit criteria)
- Identify the risk, design, and develop the matrices associated with those risks
- Take corrective steps and decisions to achieve the desired result
Now, based on the test monitoring reports, the team can implement the following corrective measures:
- Prioritizing testing efforts
- Reorganizing test schedules
- Restructuring test environment
- Reprioritizing test cases and conditions when the identified risk occurs, like delay in software delivery and so on
- Making use of test monitoring reports
- Setting an entry requirement for fixes to be retested (confirmation tested) by a developer before being included in a build
Test control allows you to modify the testing process to make it suitable for meeting predefined goals such as adjusting resources as needed, dividing the release into multiple releases, reducing the scope of the release, and so on. However, specific test control activities depend on other factors like stakeholders’ opinions, the budget, complexity of the project, availability of the right skill set, and other resources.
Test monitoring and control are primarily a manager’s responsibility to bring derailed ongoing processes back on track to reach the set goals. A test analyst helps with this by gathering, calculating, and further preparing metrics for monitoring and control.
Test Monitoring and Control Best Practices
Test monitoring and control in software testing go hand-in-hand. Once you identify the bottlenecks by test monitoring, test control activities come into the picture to ensure those hurdles do not stop the test process from meeting the goals. Let’s have a look at some of the best practices of test monitoring and control in software testing.
1. Standardization: Establishing benchmarks, goals, and standards during the planning phase can significantly aid in the successful execution of test monitoring and test control. The QA manager has to lay out these standards to the testing team so that they know their individual and collective aim. It will help them with an unified structure, template to follow while performing tasks to make the analysis and communication easy.
2. Documentation: It is essential to document everything discussed with the stakeholders, test results, test metrics, and control activities to minimize risks and avoid miscommunications.
3. Prepare to Change: Issues occur in the projects and are inevitable. However, with a proactive mindset, you can resolve the issues (like budget, scope, infrastructure, time, quality, and availability of human resources) that arise throughout the project execution. Whatever the challenge, testers must anticipate it and plan for it.
Every project manager wants to create an effective QA risk management strategy considering the project budget, the deadlines, and the skills. With thoughtful test monitoring and control, the testing team can anticipate possible threats before the project starts. Effective testing and estimation depend upon careful QA risk assessment. Once the project goal and testing directions are known, you can monitor the performance and conduct a comparative analysis of actual and expected results, and take corrective actions wherever needed. A well-planned test monitoring and control strategy ensure that the product is released on time and comes out as intended.