Software testing has a cross-functional, strategic impact on enterprise risk management, revenue and reputation, but it doesn’t always garner full appreciation for its role. This is often evidenced by a lack of investment in a best-in-class test management solution, even as other parts of the software delivery organization upgrade toolsets to support agile and DevOps. Signs that an existing solution isn’t sufficient include:
- Difficulty meeting industry and compliance standards
- Frequent production issues, or feedback that user experience falls short of expectations
- Difficulty tracking progress or demonstrating ROI
- Inability to meet expectations for accelerated testing timelines to accommodate rapid release cycles
- Increased business focus on custom software development
- Agile adoption initiatives that highlight testing as a bottleneck
- Inadequate communication between testers and development
- Disjointed testing strategy that results in siloed knowledge and duplicated work
- Proliferation of test automation tools used across agile teams, without central visibility or traceability
What triggers a test management evaluation?
In many cases, an increased rate of production defects or missed release deadlines accumulate to trigger the search for a new test management tool. Other times, leaders kick off a search when the development organization moves from legacy planning tools to Jira or similar agile planning tools. Testers — sometimes the only stakeholders to feel the frustration — often have a hard time getting directors to evaluate the current testing stack and seek a test management solution that will equip them to perform in a changing environment.
When a significant event occurs, such as a defect-riddled release, a change in strategy or a corporate merger, senior managers are more likely to engage the testing team in the decision to move to a new test management solution. In either case, organizations that proactively review their options before licenses expire better their chances of finding a robust test management solution that enables comprehensive test planning, execution and traceability, facilitates collaboration across teams and functions, drives down risks and costs, raises revenue potential.
Examine the KPIs affected by quality
It is far better to proactively address incompatibilities with your test management tool and software delivery strategy than to wait until testing falls so far behind your organization’s evolution that incidents occur. Start by asking the following questions:
- Where are the bottlenecks in our software development lifecycle or delivery pipelines? What part of the process consumes the most time?
- Where are teams along the lifecycle working erratically, sometimes overwhelmed by tasks and other times waiting for work?
- How can the iterative nature of the lifecycle become more collaborative? Where can testing begin earlier?
- How long is it taking to test developers’ code and provide feedback?
- Where are the biggest gaps in our test strategy or toolset? What’s holding us back from transitioning to agile testing, scaling test automation, or integrating testing into CI/CD pipelines?
- How effective and efficient is testing across the organization, and where are the biggest areas for improvement?
- Does our current platform give us enough visibility to answer these questions?
Answering these questions can help you identify what to look for in a test management solution that suits your development approach and strategic objectives. Enlist senior leadership to define what the optimal customer experience should be, and work backward from there.
Making the case for a new test management solution
Effective test management must meet the needs of an increasingly diverse and collaborative development environment. According to VersionOne’s 2017 State of Agile report, 94% of companies now report using agile methodology, and 71% are employing DevOps practices for some projects.
In 2016, testing reached a tipping point. For the first time, agile-compatible testing tools outnumbered the use of manual spreadsheets, according to the report, signaling a growing emphasis on quality, and on finding the right tools to prioritize it. To ensure on-time, secure and bug-free releases in a changing development environment, software developers and testers need to be in constant communication and continuous testing mode. They need versatile tools that can measure efforts across a variety of development methodologies and along each project’s lifecycle to help ensure performance and quality.