With the rapid advances in technology, programming languages, and user research, software projects today are more complex than even before. And so are the options to organize your software tests. To deliver competitive software products on the market, a culture of quality is essential at every level of the organization.
With all this complexity, the tester’s job can be quite challenging, especially for testers at the beginning of their career or at the beginning of a new project. Commonly, the temptation is to dive into everything at once, which can create a serious mess in your head and can even dilute your understanding of the subject matter.
Soon after I started my career in software testing, I realized that simple things like good communication, planning and getting organized, right from the beginning of your project, can seriously improve your productivity. So here I am, sharing my top learnings that can help you organize your software tests, right from the beginning of your project.
1. Make sure that the environment for testing is set-up correctly and you have access to test artifacts. Any test environment would have to be configured in accordance to meet the specific test goal for the application/product/software under test. A test environment may include hardware, software, and the networking pieces to support the required configuration to drive and conduct the particular test.
2. Set up the right tools for the product you are testing. Sometimes, a tool is simply not fit for the job, or another tool will help you be way more productive. Here some example of tools that I use in my day-to-day work, and that can help you organize your software tests too:
Jira is a management tool also commonly used for bug-tracking. It provides the complete set of recording, reporting and tracking any kinds of issues. It supports agile projects. It is a commercial licensed product with many add-ins that support extensibility.
Xminds is a very popular mind mapping tool, very helpful to visualize information, create maps, diagrams, charts or spreadsheets. It helps you to organize and clarify information.
Jmeter is a load testing tool used in analyzing and measuring the performance of web applications.
RapidReporter is a note taking application used in the reporting process of SBTM (Session Based Test Managements). It is also a method for managing exploratory tests, which relies on notes taken during an uninterrupted testing session and a review of these notes afterwards.
Fiddler is a tool used for checking what data is going across the wire. Fiddle tool helps you debug web applications by capturing network traffic between the Internet and test computers.
Snagit is a tool for screen capture. Allows you to capture images and videos straight from your computer that you can edit and share within the team.
Jing is another tool of screen casting computer program from TechSmith Corporation. Very friendly tool for testers, I personally use it a lot.
3. Do not start to test from day one on the project. Instead, start by exploring the application. Imagine you are a tourist who wants to visit a new town. Start by creating a roadmap of the most interesting places. Investigate the product, search for the most important features and think from the user’s perspective.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if they may sound awkward at the beginning. With time, you will learn to ask the right ones. The art of asking question implies continuous communication and several feedback loops with colleagues, the development team, product managers and other members of the team.
5. Document your testing. Keep your work organized (test plans, test cases) so you can come back to it at a later time. For maximum efficiency, organize and prioritize your tests so to have a good overview of all test cases that were made for different features of the software product. As you go, you can build new strategies based on previous tests and create new scenarios. Also, reusing test artifacts within a project may greatly relieve the pressure of a limited time.
6. Try to get a sense of the level of detail needed, considering your audience. Depending on the task and person you are working with, make sure you deep dive into details when needed and otherwise stick to the essential. Practice being concise and clear. And do not forget, a picture can say more than a thousand words, so don’t hesitate to include screenshots in your tests plans and bug reports.
7. Focus on goals and results. Review periodically the main goals of the project as they may change, affecting your tests. Also, keeping specific goals and metrics for testing in mind can help you track status and results.
Every new project comes with new challenges. Developing quality products in a timely manner is critical for a company to be successful in the competitive and fast-paced environment of technology. By starting testing activities early in the development life-cycle, focusing on goals and results and ensuring good communication within the team, companies can raise the bar of the software products they deliver. And you can keep that peace of mind and productivity needed to help them get there.
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