Testing for Quality, Right?

Testing your enterprise applications is meant to ensure that you maintain high functional quality within your business operations. Right? I’ve been in the testing world for about 5 years, and over those years, I’ve internalized that this is the true purpose of testing. I know this seems intuitive, but for me, it wasn’t. Let’s look at why that is.

Let’s face it – we test because we ‘have to.’ I have engaged with hundreds of testing professionals, functional leads, and everyday business users who have engaged in testing. When a project is imminent or a significant change is looming, a few things pop out at me over and over.

Test Responsibility is Vague – It is often unclear who is genuinely responsible for testing. If there is a Testing Center of Excellence (TCOE) at your organization, you are in better shape as you can call up the ‘testing guys,’ get on their schedule, and they will ensure that they will complete the task. Unfortunately, TCOEs are not common, so testing is entrusted to the project leader, the application tech lead, or impacted business stakeholders. In every case, testing isn’t their day job, so they must do their best with the tools and processes provided. In truth, testing best practices are not known to many of these testers, let alone taken into consideration and followed.

Test Planning is an Afterthought – This is a direct consequence of my previous point. When test planning is not a core competency, testing tends to be conducted by grabbing what test documentation you can find and what relevant functional stakeholders are available and jamming them together. There’s rarely any work done to cover gaps in documented test cases as it’s not well understood what assets exist, what assets have gaps, what assets are missing, and what functionality is covered. The lack of adequate testing tools doesn’t allow the tester to see what assets are truly available and who is responsible for maintaining them.

Test Quality is Not the Goal – In most cases, the test plan runs the test cases or scripts that are available regardless of whether they accurately reflect how the business operates. Existing test documentation is often outdated and isn’t updated after related process changes have been implemented. Yet, this is what is typically used to test – not necessarily ensuring true quality.

As a result of these trends, many issues slip through the cracks, impact the business, and eat up time and resources in “putting out fires” after changes are promoted to production. In other words, testing was done but did not ensure quality.

Effective Test Planning is the First Step

While organizations use different strategies to improve their releases’ quality by ‘fixing’ testing, it’s amazing how often this first logical step is overlooked. Understanding what test assets are available to you and who is responsible for creating and maintaining them will go a long way to ensure that you are starting your testing projects with the best resources available to you. Having a centralized test repository that is well organized and easily available to everybody is a significant first step in improving the quality of your tests. There are excellent test management tools available to help with this challenge.

Having the right test plan will ensure testing effectiveness and maintain your functional quality during times of change. Panaya Test Dynamix, is how it’s done. Features like test notifications, collaborative communications, automated documentation, simple defect reporting, and seamless work handovers allow optimization of the testing processes and documentation. Panaya’s unique risk-based change analysis allows you to optimize scoping and test coverage, while its centralized real-time visibility tools keep business users engaged. The result is greater adoption, real-time visibility into each test cycle for targeted fixes, a proven increase in efficiency, and zero risk at go-live.

While implementing effective test planning is just a first step, it’s truly the foundation to ensure that all other testing improvements will be successful. Test tracking, accurate test evidence, test automation, and collaboration are excellent test process accelerators. Still, all must truly rely on proper test planning to ensure process quality and project success.