Marco GerussiMarco Gerussi Is Tool-Supported Test Management Profitable?

08/18/2008 by Marco Gerussi

Every software project targets at providing high-quality software within the frame of a cost and time schedule. tool-based IT test management usually accompanies the whole software development process and partly adds to reaching this goal. This includes tasks like requirements management, test planning, test design, test execution, test evaluation as well as a superordinate defects management.

Practical experience
However, erratic and unsystemantic testing is general practice in many enterprises. A variety of manual steps, redundancies and inconsistent documentations are the order of the day, resulting in additional costs. On the other hand, high benefit could be achieved by use of a tool-based test management. Introducing the necessary test management tools, along with the suitable methods and processes, improves both the testing process and the software quality. The  benefit  provided for both the test organization and the IT projects can be summarized as follows:

Testing gets

  • standardized (tool instead of free-text in Word/Excel), more systematic, more reliable,
  • less time-consuming, easier to execute,
  • verifiable (content and coverage), more effective and comprehensive,
  • traceable,
  • reusable, trainable,
  • it can be automated
  • and planned.

Using test management methods and tools facilitates error recovery and consistently reduces error occurrence. Time and costs for testing and support are enormously reduced as well. This results in a reduction of total costs, higher quality, transpareny, improved system requirements and completion on schedule, if not ahead of schedule. Operation will be less error-prone with reduced breakdown frequency, leading to highest-possible customer satisfaction.

The benefit is evident. The earlier an error is detected, the easier its recovery. But often, there is no time for testing, the project is behind schedule and people are under time pressure. Testing is considered a necessary evil. But tool-based test management is more than just a cost factor. If used in the right way, test management is a value-adding process.

Potential return of tool-based test management
Potential improvements are not easy to quantify. However, experience from successful implementations of the test management tool HP Quality Center has shown that real improvement is possible:

  • Improved product quality leading to
    • Less delay caused by bad product quality
    • Avoiding frequent emergency implementations during production
    • Higher customer satisfaction by meeting expected delivery requirements
    • Cost savings by less re-working and reduced support costs
  • Improved testing process leading to
    • Lower costs per test cycle by standardization and reuse
    • Standardization of planning, documentation and execution of tests
    • Less time and cost effort for preparation thanks to reuse of requirements, testing data and test cases
    • Fast test execution by automated regression testing
  • Improved use of test resources leading to
    • Savings by centralized use of HP Quality Center (hardware, software, support, services)
    • Automated test coverage management avoids the need for retesting or performing unneeded testing
  • Improved project delivery leading to
    • More predictable and optimizated delivery schedule
    • Test automation, less time needed for execution, reduced use of resources
    • Optimized use of project resources, e.g. by higher performance, better prioritization
    • Test resources are earlier made available to new projects (by on schedule delivery)
    • Comparable results allowing to continously improve test processes

The aspects of potential benefit listed above can be used as a basis for profit calculation. By applying a scoping approach to the project, the relevant data and facts can be derived from above general potential advantages and applied to the particular environment, and the actual return can be calculated.

Summary
Test management is necessary and clearly improves the quality of software projects. The advantages of tool-based test management are evident. However, it is not always easy to quantify and clearly define the benefit. Often, a budget for testing projects is approved only after some unpleasant incident has happened. This can be avoided, though.

Successful implementations of the test management tool HP Quality Center have shown that practical improvements can definitely be realized and the de facto profit can be calculated in advance. The general aspects of potential value can easily be transferred to the particular environment by applying project scoping. Data and facts gained then form the basis of a specific profit calculation. Tool-supported test management does not only pay off, but the benefit can also be quantified.

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