Evaluating software testing tools: A how-to guide
So you’re ready to modernize your software testing practice? The next step is choosing a software testing tool built for today’s software delivery environment. In this article, you will learn how to evaluate different testing tools based on their free trial, as well as the most important questions to ask prospective vendors.
Today’s IT and development teams have an ever-increasing array of software development methodologies, tools and QA and testing approaches to choose from. Central governance and control have lost its prominence at many organizations, as diverse teams race to deliver software more rapidly, albeit with mounting complexity. However, the organizational risk rises with each disconnected project.
Quality assurance software can significantly bolster risk management efforts by centralizing testing data across teams, development methodologies and projects. Given the number of stakeholders involved in such a purchase, the decision often has a long tail.
To compete against other vendors and demonstrate their comparative strengths, QA software providers offer free trials as a standard practice. And, of course, prospective buyers expect nothing less.
Answering the following questions during a free trial period will help you evaluate and compare QA software to find the best fit for your company:
1. Company viability
- With what frequency does the vendor update its QA software? How often does it release new features? How many times in the past year or 18 months has it had unscheduled releases to fix bugs?
- How long has the QA software been in use? How many companies employ it? Across verticals or in specific industry sectors? Do current adopters match your enterprise in size, growth forecasts, licensed users and scope of software development efforts? Does the company offer sales support to help you validate the purchase among your leadership team and demonstrate its ongoing value? Does it deliver live technical support, online tutorials and training and/or onsite training?
- What’s on its product roadmap? Will the tool be able to scale with your organization, as your development and testing efforts evolve and expand?
2. Test development
- Can current manual test environments and test data provisioning, such as API validation and service integration, be automated? Will automated tests deliver smart analytics to help meet business objectives, such as speeding time to market, rather than simply deliver incremental cost savings or efficiency?
- Can documents, screenshots and pictures be attached as part of test-level validation? Can test cases be linked within a test data repository so multiple test cases can be called at once?
- Are custom fields and lists admissible at the application or program level?
- Do import and export functions enable import of test cases from Excel and/or export of test details for editing in another application?
- Are deleted test cases and test case versions recoverable?
- Does the software allow input of expected test results and make test guidance visible during execution?
- Are lightweight agile tests easy to create?
3. Tooling integration
- Does the software enable integration with defect tracking software like Jira and Rally?
- Is integration truly real-time, or does it require scheduled synchronization?
- Does the software accommodate an array of testing methodologies, from remaining waterfall projects to agile and DevOps processes?
- Does it provide learning across systems and throughout the development lifecycle?
- Are application lifecycle management issues populated with test run information?
4. Test organization
- Can test filters be created, used and saved to retrieve select data and results? Can data be searched within the test tool?
- Can test cases be organized in a folder hierarchy?
- Can tests be reused or repurposed?
5. Communication and reporting
- Do out-of-the-box metrics communicate the strategic role of testing?
- Can all users see speed to market, delivery on customer expectations and risk mitigation?
- Are graphs reflecting test run activity and defects native to the application?
- Are test run or cycle status reports native to the application?
- Do emails go out automatically based on status, assignment and workflow step?
- Can traceability be gauged between business requirements and test coverage? Between test runs or cycles to defects?
6. Test execution
- Can test scenarios and execution be synced with development for continuous testing? Does the software capture test evidence and relay it to development during exploratory testing?
- Can defects be linked from the defect tracking tool to the test case?
- Does the software record spontaneous test cases during execution, then save changes to a master test case?
- Does it record actual results, including comments and attachments?
- Can testing be stopped and then resumed from the last step executed?
Quality assurance software requires a significant investment, so a trial typically precedes upper management’s approval. The ideal QA software promotes a quality-first strategy. It enables more exploratory testing, quality systems integration and traceability that helps uncover previously neglected but critical components for testing.
Prioritizing quality will help your customers recognize quality application performance and report greater satisfaction and trust in the value you deliver.