Complete Buyer’s Guide to Test Management Software:
Today’s tutorial is going to be the one which you would wish to bookmark and keep as a reference that will serve you as and when you need to evaluate your test management tool choices.
We will start with a quick intro on test management and dig deeper into what are the steps to be followed while choosing the best test management software.
Let’s move on!!
This tutorial on Test Management and different tools will give you a complete overview of its meaning, need, parameters and features along with the list of top test management tools available in the market in simple terms for easy understanding of anyone who wants to know and select the best Tool.
What You Will Learn:
- Introduction to Test Management
- What is a Test Management Tool?
- Need for Test Management Tools
- List of Test Management Tools
- Open Source vs. Feature-rich Commercial Tools
- Parameters while Selecting a Best Tool
- 9 Quality Criteria for a Best Test Management Product
- Mandatory Features
- Useful Tips and Metrics for Evaluating & Comparing Different Tools
- Parameters for Tool Comparison
- Tool Comparison Matrix and Charts
- Recommended Reading
Introduction to Test Management
There are several test management tools that are available in the market. Hence, immense attention should be exercised while selecting a tool. Factors like cost, productivity, mobile support etc. are also to be considered primarily while picking a tool.
Here is a quick refresher STLC diagram for all of us:
Are you are wondering why we are starting with this, it is just to remind us that the entire activity of managing this software testing life cycle is what we call as Test Management.
Test management is the process of organizing & controlling test processes, test assets and artifacts for Manual or automated testing projects. The goal of test management is to improve test success and thereby increase the software quality.
The figure presented below depicts test management as the one which manages all the organizational aspects and phases of testing.
Below are the tasks and activities that are included:
- Test case preparation.
- Test execution planning.
- Test execution monitoring.
- Test result reporting.
- Test result analysis.
- Checking the testing tasks and test result completeness.
- Identifying the scope of improvement in Application testing.
- Leading the testing team & testers.
- Managing external and internal relationships.
- Creating documentation related to testing activities.
- Test efforts estimation.
- Test scheduling.
- Measuring & tracking test cycles.
- Organizing test cases.
- Managing test assets and artifacts.
What is a Test Management Tool?
Test Management tools track how testing is done/planned, generate/report the status of QA activities, and organize test assets/artifacts in a systematic manner. These tools are used to manage and track the software testing process- both automated and manual.
Generally, these tools come with incident management, problem management, test ware management, bug tracking, test scheduling & monitoring, logging of results, test reporting, etc. Test case management tools contain different modules that are used to manage the different stages of STLC.
Usually, they are employed to support manual testing, collect execution data by running automated tests, generate requirement traceability matrix (RTM), handle multiple platforms & environments, and to feed information about the detected bugs in the software.
Need for Test Management Tools
According to research, software quality assurance uses over 50 percent of the total cost of the software, and this figure is even higher for a critical software. So, it is very important to use a test case management tool in your project that can improve your testing processes and control the overall cost of testing.
Many case studies have proven that manual test management has several disadvantages that can be resolved by using a test management tool.
The points given below define its need:
- Due to the high level of complexity involved in testing activities, an efficient and scalable test management software is a must-have for an organization.
- These tools help in picturing the health of the system under test (SUT), thereby coordinating various testing activities and keeping the overall testing process on track.
- These tools support the vision of rationalizing and reforming the testing process in order to allow instant access to data analysis, collaborative tools and smooth & effective communication amongst multiple project teams.
- Many tools include requirements management capabilities to match the test case design with the requirements.
- Tracking of defects and project tasks are carried out in a single application to simplify the testing process.
List of Test Management Tools
There are many commercial & few open source tools that are available in the market. You can refer to our page here to get a list of the available best test management systems.
This list has reviewed about 30+ tools and top 15 among them are mentioned as well. The tools’ review will definitely aid you in choosing the appropriate tool for your project.
Refer this list of top tools:
Open Source vs. Feature-rich Commercial Tools
Before you drill down into the details of each tool, a question arises as:
To what kind of tool you should look for – open source or commercial?
We have very few open source options, such as:
- TestLink, and
- Tarantula (for agile test management).
And, commercial ones such as:
Given below are few differences:
- Open source tools can perform many tasks well and even a few tasks better.
- Open source tools provide flexibility but customization takes a lot of effort. You will need a strong technical admin.
- Open source tools are generally slower than the commercial tools by adding to performance problems and make them unfit for larger organizations.
- Open source tools also could lack in providing support, training and/or robust user manuals.
- Commercial tools have easy to use, interactive interfaces.
- Most of the commercial tools support integration with the other test management, bug tracking, and test automation tools. However, they work best when used in the development suite for which they were originally designed for.
- The major disadvantage of the commercial tools is their price. Their license cost is generally high and they are expensive to maintain. In order to use these tools in the project, the organization has to justify the cost of employing a licensed test management suite.
For small level companies where audits, lawsuits etc. are not considered as factors, it’s not worth investing in expensive, feature-rich commercial tools. In that case, you can go with an open source tool or lower cost alternatives (like JIRA, Redmine, TestLink, PractiTest, QaTrag, Tarantula, etc.).
On the other hand, for the organizations that require a mature and well-developed test platform that is continuously improving, where audits, lawsuits, etc. are considerable factors, then one should go with feature-rich commercial tools (like QTest, HP Quality Center, Zephyr, etc.)”
Parameters while Selecting a Best Tool
Given below are few parameters to be considered while choosing a Test Management Software.
Firstly, filter out some tools from the list of all the available tools based on your project budget. In a large organization, if the budget permits, then going with a commercial tool is a good option as it is easy to use and maintain the organization.
Then you need to decide on how much licensing cost you are willing to pay. It will depend on the time frame for which you need to use the tool. Many commercial tools also come with a customized license where you pay according to the features and the duration of usage that you select.
The test management software chosen should improve the productivity.
When we say ‘improved productivity’, then it should cover the following areas for sure:
a) The Granularity of Test Information: The tool should be able to provide detailed and helpful information during various stages of the testing process.
The test report generated by the tool should be able to tell you the exact step where the test failed so that it saves time in tracing and replicating the issue
Additionally, the tool should be able to document testing strategies, maintain test case versions, log defects, link user stories, plan test execution, and upload videos/images.
b) Release Management Tracking: The tool should be able to robustly track and update the list of application modules being tested and released. Also, it should be able to provide a repository that represents a single version of the truth to all the stakeholders so that there is no conflict with the requirements.
c) Support for Agile: These days most of the projects are adopting the agile methodology, so the tool you are choosing should also be able to support agile. It includes support for features like user story creation, sprints, scrum, velocity charts, reports, etc.
#3) Integration with External Tools
The tool should offer continuous integration and should easily get integrated with the automation test tools and bug tracking tools in order to make the overall testing process fast and easy.
#4) Mobile Support
It’s really helpful if the tool has a fully featured version available for the mobile devices as well. This helps in getting the team scattered at different locations in sync. It also helps in 24*7 monitoring.
#5) Preferred Support Channel
The tool you choose should be able to provide good support for live chat, phone calls, raising tickets, help desk, knowledge base, FAQs, etc.
9 Quality Criteria for a Best Test Management Product
There are 9 quality criteria:
- General vendor qualifications
- Vendor support
- Licensing & Pricing
Below are the high-level features that any test management tool must have:
- Facilitates scheduling, controlling and planning.
- Test related metrics gathering.
- Logging execution information.
- Monitoring capabilities.
- Management of various test assets & artifacts.
- Represent relation between test assets.
- Support for reporting.
=> You can also refer to our page that will give you a detailed explanation of the 4 essential features of test management tools.
Useful Tips and Metrics for Evaluating & Comparing Different Tools
The market is fully loaded with several test management products. Thus, finding the right test management solution for your organization becomes a challenging process.
Below are the steps to be followed for tool evaluation:
#1) Before you start examining the tools, it is very important that you understand the needs of the project. Don’t go ahead with a tool selection without knowing what exactly you are looking for and what features you expect from the tool.
#2) Once you are clear about the project requirements, start evaluating the tools that fit your budget and have the feature set your need.
#3) Rather than going for a single tool, you can also have an option to go for multiple compatible tools that together can serve as a test management solution and serve all your needs.
#4) The next thing that comes into consideration before you delve into the tool feature is your development environment. Queries related to privacy, security, IT administration support, hosting, the cost of maintenance, etc. with the new tool should be addressed properly.
#5) Further, you need to consider all the technical issues that you need to take care of if you are going to use a new tool.
#6) Now, you should consider the test management features that the tool is offering. Check if the tool offers all the essential basic features required for test management.
#7) Moving ahead, if you are already using a defect management tool and want to continue with it, check if the new tool integrates well with your defect management system. This is required to report and track defects properly.
If you do not want to use any existing defect management tool in the organization and want to go with an entirely new solution, then select a tool that has a built-in defect management solution
#8) Whatever tool or set of tools you choose, it must be able to establish a connection between the functional requirements and test cases.
Try to Answer the below Set of Questions to Evaluate a Tool:
- Am I clear with all my project requirements?
- What will be better based on my requirements and budget – a single powerful tool or multiple tools together serving as a complete test management solution?
- What is the best tool design that can gel up well with my organization and project?
- Should I buy the tool or lease it?
- Shall I Self-host the tool or lease a service?
- How will my tool get integrated with the other support tools?
- Do I need API or any open design?
- Is my tool available for mobile platforms?
- Is the test information represented by the tool granular?
- Can test runs be done in batch jobs?
- Is it possible to organize the tests in hierarchies?
- Can the test runs be monitored, paused in between, restarted?
- Does my tool offer an interface with a test automation solution?
- Do I need features like an audit trail, versioning, change control, or auto notification? If yes, does my tool support all this?
- Does my tool support test result from analysis & reporting?
- Does my tool support exploratory testing?
- With the choice of this tool, will I be able to have a common interface between requirement management, test management, release management & defect management?
Parameters for Tool Comparison
You can compare the tools with each other based on the following parameters:
- Adaptability to various development methodologies.
- Ramp-up time (how quickly the tool will be adopted within the organization).
- Integration (with other support & management tools, platforms, etc.).
- Version controlling
- Scheduling capabilities
Tool Comparison Matrix and Charts
Given below are few tool comparison matrixes and charts for your better understanding:
- Matrix 1:
(Note: Click on the image for an enlarged view)
- Matrix 2:
- Bar Chart:
We hope that this tutorial on Test Management tools would have been a quick refresher for you.
And I’m sure that this, in turn, will be a reference guide for you when you need to evaluate your tool choices.
Please do add to this content, anything that we might have missed and also share with us your test management pain points or success stories in the comments section below!!