4 Essential Features that Test Management Tools Should Have

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Vu Lam, CEO of QASymphony. Author has a great point about the state of the current test management tools in the market and highlights the importance of a tool having some core features that the testers want. Read on to know what he thinks are the most essential features of any test management tool. Let us know if you agree in the comments below.

As software development adapts to the agile methodology and increasingly makes its way into the cloud, we are seeing more and more ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) tools coming onto the market. Analyst firm, Gartner predicts worldwide enterprise software spending of $297 billion this year, up 6.4% compared to 2012. There is a huge amount of competition in this space.

One area that’s being left behind in the rush to secure those dollars, is test management functionality.

All too often ALM solutions are based on the needs of software developers and they fail to take the opinions of professional testers into account. When test management tools are added to a package as an afterthought, they rarely cover all the bases for an effective test cycle, much less a complete project spanning months, or even years.

Now that software development, in many cases, is extending well beyond production release, the requirements for test teams handling regression testing, and potentially the roll out of new features into a live platform, are growing ever more complex. So what are the key factors for testers seeking test management software and tools?

Essential Features of Test Management Tools

Test management tools

Feature #1) Easy to use and flexible

Any test management solution that proves too complex or cumbersome to use is to going to result in training overhead. The system should be accessible and logical. The easier it is for individual testers to grasp, the faster the adoption and the less likely mistakes will be made.

It also has to be flexible enough to cater to a variety of different situations. Different projects have different testing needs and the tools should be able to adapt to different testing processes. Filling in unneeded fields, repeating unnecessary test cases or extraneous steps is a waste of time and resource. That flexibility should extend to the ability to structure and run specific set of tests in order to focus on a particular requirement or set of requirements, as well as specific defects.

Feature #2) Transparency and traceability

It’s no surprise to find that testers value the ability to trace every aspect of their work in the test management system. This provides solid accountability and a wealth of data that can be used to streamline testing and to plan for future projects. Good test management software will trace the full lifecycle of a defect or a requirement. There should be a clear chain from requirement, to test case, to defect, to repeated test cycles, with a record of the tests executed and who was responsible. This alleviates potential tension between test and development, and it prevents anyone from playing the blame game.

Creating a direct relationship between requirements and test cases, whether you have multiple requirements within a single test case, or multiple test cases to deal with a single requirement, is very important. Because of the repetition inherent in testing, making this relationship explicit can be a massive time saver. Clarity is good for efficiency.

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Feature #3) Assigning and tracking

It is vital that the clarity is extended to task assignment and tracking. The ability to assign specific tasks to specific requirements or defects is obviously essential, but it should also be possible to track whether the action was performed and by whom. It should always be clear which tasks and assignments are approved, either by the development team, or, where necessary, the project manager. Tasks and assignments that require action need to be flagged to the relevant team member.

Testers should be able to filter the tasks and see at a glance what they are expected to work on next. Providing a variety of filters can also help test team leads and managers to get an overview of progress and generate useful reports that highlight what the test team is doing and where issues have been encountered.

Feature #4) The holy grail of test management

No two projects are the same, and that’s why flexibility in the test management solution that you choose is so important. If you find a solution that can combine that flexibility with traceability, usability, and transparency, then you should be well-armed to take on any testing challenge.

About the Author:

Vu Lam

Vu Lam is CEO of QASymphony, a leading developer of Quality Management solutions for software developers and QA testers.  He was previously with First Consulting Group and was an early pioneer in Vietnam’s offshore IT services industry since 1995. He holds an MS degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University. You may reach him at vulam [at] qasymphony.com.

Over to you:

Which is the most essential feature any test management tool should have?



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6 comments ↓

#1 Timonthy on 06.30.13 at 8:46 pm

Very informative. thanks.

#2 Timonthy on 06.30.13 at 8:51 pm

tracking requirements, test cases and defects along with the name of the responsible tester at every stage of the test cycle is very much important feature candidate of test mgt tools.

#3 Jayakumar Naryanan on 07.01.13 at 10:11 am

Dear vulam,

Excellent points.

#4 Kanif on 07.01.13 at 11:16 am

Nice post, thanks for sharing..

#5 Sourabh Sukla on 07.03.13 at 3:52 am

Great in-depth thoughts. No one wants to dig deeper and question the system in place. They just blindly follow the system, it might be the QA processes or the tools.

#6 Resource Manager David on 05.08.14 at 5:10 am

You’ve explained all the features well. So to tall test tools, you should consider all the features here.