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Test Management in Jira

Marcin Żurawiecki - 21 January 2019 - 0 comments

Software development is a complicated activity that consists of many different processes. One of them is test management. The topic of quality assurance, software testing, and the test management itself is very popular today as companies tend to care more about the quality they deliver and constantly improve their testing processes. There are many conferences, meetups, online groups, books and publications dedicated to software testing and test management in general. The field is constantly growing.

As a project management platform, Atlassian’s Jira doesn’t include a built-in module for test management. But that doesn’t mean you can’t perform software testing in Jira.

You can achieve that in several ways. The first and most basic option is storing test cases as regular Jira issues without any dedicated test management software. It’s not very convenient but allows to perform tests. Second, you can take advantage of one of the many standalone test management tools that integrate with Jira. That approach gives you advanced testing capabilities and some sort of interoperability with Jira. Finally, you can go with a dedicated Jira test management app for the best integration with Jira and powerful testing features.

What is test management all about and how to perform testing with a Jira app? That’s what we’ll discuss in this article.

What is test management?

Test management is an extremely important process for developing high-quality, complex software. It consists of activities related to software testing that combined create a complete, end-to-end process. There is no single definition of the test management process since many companies and experts approach this topic differently. The important part is the management. Considering the limited human and time resources in a testing team, but also project deadlines, the testing process needs to be managed well.

The ultimate goal of test management is establishing a predictable and reliable testing process that helps to deliver high-quality products on time. A test management process defines test planning, design, execution, reporting and more. But it also measures the testing process itself and focuses on improvements to achieve the best results in testing with existing project constraints.

Why test management is so important?

Test management affects the quality of your end product. It focuses on defining an adequate testing process and constantly improving it in time to perform accurate tests according to specific needs. Great test management and software testing lead to products that are bug-free and offer an excellent user experience. Quality is key for modern software products and that’s why you need test management as a part of your development process.

Software testing is often considered a bottleneck because of its non-linear nature. Test management aims at creating a predictable testing process to reduce the chance of exceeding deadlines because of testing activities.

Test management not only makes your products better, but also aligns the testing process with your product specificity, the available resources, and project constraints.

Test Management activities

Test management is a complex process that includes many smaller elements depending on each other. Every test management activity should be taken into account when designing a complete testing process. All of them have different purposes and focus on different testing aspects. Needless to say, all of them are important.

  • Test Planning – this phase defines the overall approach to other testing activities in the project. It’s a strategic, detailed plan that includes the testing scope, test types and levels, test objectives, test criteria, test deliverables and more. A Test Plan also defines the resources, schedules, estimations, roles and their responsibilities. It’s very important for test management because it states how your testing effort will look like throughout the project.
  • Test Design – it’s a test management activity that focuses on tests themselves. Based on the Test Plan, detailed tests are defined including all the test data, conditions, test steps, expected results, and any other meaningful test information. A test design shouldn’t be underestimated; it affects all activities in the testing process.
  • Test Execution – this test management phase is where the action happens. Tests designed earlier are executed to find and report any defects. Tests are executed according to the Test Plan guidelines. The results of test cases and single test steps are written down for further evaluation and reporting.
  • Test Monitoring – it’s a continuous activity that takes place during other test management phases. The goal of test monitoring is gathering and tracking test metrics of the test management phase that is currently in progress. Some of the test metrics used here are test coverage, requirement traceability or defect metrics. This information should be provided to the team members and stakeholders. Data collected during test monitoring is further used in test control.
  • Test Reporting – this activity summarizes a certain period of testing and evaluates different metrics like schedules, dates, exit criteria, test results, remaining defects and more. Test metrics and results should be analyzed to specify the level of confidence in the tested software, determine the risks and make the decision about further testing.
  • Test Control – this activity focuses on making improvements to the test management process based on the test metrics gathered by test monitoring. Test control actions may include re-prioritizing test cases, revisiting testing schedules and dates, and correcting the test data and conditions. These changes aim to improve the efficiency and quality of the testing process and the end product. Test control depends on test control and reporting.

Processes related to test management

Test management is a continuous process of making improvements to software testing. However, there are different processes related to test management that also need to be taken into account. If a company or project team wants to establish effective test management, then other relevant areas have to be maintained as well. In the end, you want the whole software development process to be complete, not only the test management.

  • Risk management – this process is important right from the start when building successful test management. Requirements should be analyzed to find and define the potential business risks and – on that basis – critical components and functions of the system. This information is crucial for test management as it allows us to prioritize tests, define the testing scope, test objectives, levels and more. Risk analysis is required to create a good test plan which is the core of test management.
  • Requirement management – it’s hard to think about test management without requirement management. To set up the testing process you need to know what the project is about. Requirements have to be reviewed, complete, testable and transparent to launch the testing effort. Changes of requirements or new requirements also affect the test management and therefore have to be maintained.
  • Defect management – defects are the products of testing and test management, but they also affect the test management process itself. Defect metrics are often the key indicators of software quality and that’s why they are crucial for test management. Analyzing defects allows defining new areas of risk leading to changes in the testing process, like reprioritization of test cases. Another important aspect is transparency. Testing teams need to know when certain defects are fixed and ready for testing.

Test management apps for Jira

Jira is an excellent software for project management. It allows us to write stories, combine them into epics, run sprints, and view reports. But it doesn’t include an integrated test management module.

The simplest and most limited solution is adapting pure Jira to test management needs. It’s doable, but you’ll have to deal with the lack of a test repository, reports, structured test steps, progress tracking and even more things that come in handy for testing. If you just need to have a blueprint that something was tested, pure Jira will do the trick. But for more complex test management needs, it’s not going to be enough.

Another way of making test management work in Jira is to use an external software with the ability to integrate with Jira. That solution allows us to establish a professional test management process and use different features designed particularly for testing. Almost every test management software allows writing Test Cases, tracking their progress, creating reports and more. The disadvantage of this solution is the level of integration with Jira. Usually, it’s quite limited and the traceability between Jira issues and the test objects in the test management software isn’t satisfactory.

The last and probably the best option is implementing a test management Jira app. You’ll find a few different apps on Atlassian Marketplace designed for test management. These apps provide advanced test management features directly inside Jira. There’s no need to use any external software. Having everything in one tool is a big plus as the users stay in a familiar environment instead of learning a new tool. Every app is different, but their integration with Jira is much better than any external software. Using a test management plugin for Jira gives you more transparency and is also more efficient.

TestFLO – Jira Test Management & QA Tool

TestFLO is an example of a test management app for Jira. It allows designing, planning and reporting tests directly in Jira. The app supports linking tests to requirements to validate their testing state easily. Users can create defects directly from test cases and evaluate them from different perspectives – the requirement, test plan or a single test case. Advanced workflow features combined with native Jira functionalities allow controlling the testing process even better.

The key difference between TestFLO and other test management apps available on the Atlassian Marketplace is its high configuration capabilities. Test management in different projects can be configured according to individual requirements. That’s very important because every project has its specificity and one general test management setup may not be suitable in every case. In this aspect TestFLO fits well into Jira’s approach making the test management configurable globally and per project.

TestFLO is also very much Jira-like considering the look-and-feel. The use of workflows, issues, custom fields and other features familiar in Jira makes this test management plugin a familiar environment for Jira users. The close integration with Jira makes it possible to use different Jira features like dashboards, Issue Navigator, JQL filters with TestFLO data to enhance the test management even more.

Key takeaway

Test management is a complex process that aims to establish a well-rounded, predictable and reliable testing process. Test management includes many activities like test planning, design, execution, reporting, monitoring, and control. For efficient test management, all of them need to be maintained in top shape.

Test management isn’t an independent process. It strongly relies on other processes running in a software development project. Requirement management or defect management is key for successful test management. These processes provide information about what needs to be tested and how, as well as different test metrics valuable for the testing process.

Jira is a popular project management software, but it lacks the test management functionality out-of-the-box. However, you can find quite a few great apps for test management on the Atlassian Marketplace. That’s the best way to seamlessly integrate test management with Jira. These apps are feature-rich and there’s no need to use any external software to perform testing. If you’re using Jira at your company and looking for test management software, you might not need to invest in another platform.

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