How to Analyze the Effectiveness of Your Testing Efforts

KMS Tips for improving testing processes and practices.

As testers, we like to focus on ensuring that software fulfills its intended business objectives. It’s important to collate and analyze data to measure the effectiveness of our efforts, but some of the test data that we generate is overlooked. It could be used to improve coverage for the project at hand, and to improve our processes and practices in the future.

We should take the time to understand where team effort went, how long it took to complete specific tasks, and compare the end results to our initial estimates. By drilling into data about the testing process itself, we can reveal useful insights. We can learn how to streamline processes, estimate more accurately, and assess the usefulness of the tools we’re using.

Boosting your coverage

Your test plan should be fluid because it has to be able to adapt to new information. To maximize coverage, you need to reassess your plan frequently and evaluate where most defects are being found. It will often be necessary to change priorities, dropping your efforts in some areas to boost it in others.

It’s all about where you can get the most value and ROI on effort, relative to the perceived business objectives for the product release.

For example, it may make more sense to explore interdependent areas, rather than focusing regression on a previously defect-ridden spot that developers have fixed up.

Always ask yourself: Where are the business critical areas, and where within those will you find the most issues?

Usability must be in the forefront of a tester’s mind, even when it’s beyond the scope of the functional test you’re running. Feedback of this nature might be secondary, but it’s absolutely invaluable, and it can have a huge impact on final quality.

Analyzing usability data from your testers is a great way to work out where the weak spots are and find candidates for easy improvement.

Measuring effectiveness

If you’re doing things a certain way because “that’s the way they’ve always been done”, then you need to stop and question your techniques and tools. You can’t determine that it’s better for a tester to use one tool over another, or to write specific automation scripts unless you measure their impact and compare.

Take a close look at how much manual effort is actually involved in configuring and employing your tools and techniques. You need to make sure that they are being used for appropriate tasks where some benefit in efficiency can be realized.

Just taking the time to stop and question the way you do things can reveal potential areas for improvement. Invite suggestions and make sure that you measure the results, so that you know your chosen processes and tools are more effective than the alternatives.

We attempt to measure software quality all the time and act on our insights to make improvements. It makes sense to turn that analytical eye to the tools, techniques, and processes we rely upon to carry out our testing and see what we can do to get better. Boosting efficiency and widening our test coverage via better tools and processes will have a significant positive impact on the final quality of any software we are testing.


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