Making a Case for a Test Case
You need to balance the limitations in terms of resources and time, with the need to ship the highest quality product possible
By: Vu Lam
Aug. 20, 2013 11:15 AM
For software testers to create a detailed test case during the QA process can be tricky: sometimes it's not an option; sometimes it's wasted effort. Here are ways to help make that decision.
Part of the skill set required to be a good tester involves the ability to assess a software project and decide when it's worth putting in the effort to create really detailed test cases. Sometimes the software will lend itself to unstructured testing, sometimes the development methodology will dictate a specific approach, and sometimes every possible facet will need to be covered. If you plotted projects on a graph you would get a bell curve because most of them fall somewhere in between the casual and the comprehensive.
How Do You Decide?
These are special cases and they make the decision to write detailed test cases easy, but most projects are not so straightforward.
Consider Your Testers and Audience
The intended audience for the software is also an important factor. If this is business software aimed at specific professionals, and you can envisage clear use cases, then a well-organized test plan with detailed test cases will help the QA department. If, on the other hand, the software is aimed at the mass market and it's tougher to predict exactly how people will interact with it, some less formal, agile exploratory testing could turn up important bugs that a more formal approach would miss.
It's also worth bearing in mind that rigorous, detailed test cases, with no room for intellectual input or creative thought, can be dispiriting and even demotivating for testers. Talented testers welcome the opportunity to flex their brains and they can use their experience and their intuition to uncover flaws in the software. If the approach is overly strict and you fail to leverage your tester's skills, bugs will end up slipping through into the final product.
Match the Development Methodology
It's also not uncommon for projects to change direction frequently during development and these changes could render your test cases obsolete within a few weeks of them being created. It may be necessary to talk directly to designers or the customers generating the requirements in order to keep abreast of where the software is going and how best to test it, but it's not always possible to get answers to all of your questions.
At the other end of the spectrum a traditional waterfall approach to development, where everything is agreed and signed off before the project begins, will enable you to create test cases with confidence.
It's About Efficiency
Think about what will offer the best return on investment. Writing test cases is a time-consuming task and it requires the attentions of your most experienced testers. Before you pull the trigger on a detailed test plan, take the time to consider whether it's the most efficient use of their time.
Sometimes it will increase your effectiveness and have a big positive impact on the software, sometimes it won't. The trick is to find the right balance.
Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1
SOA World Latest Stories
Subscribe to the World's Most Powerful Newsletters
Subscribe to Our Rss Feeds & Get Your SYS-CON News Live!
SYS-CON Featured Whitepapers
Most Read This Week