Rules of thumb vs. Silver bullets

All Quality Assurance organizations test differently. Each one has singular applications, unique characteristics, and methodological history that define the way they structure and perform their testing tasks.

It would be absurd to assume that a unified “silver bullet” approach can suit the needs of all testing teams world wide, but there are general aspects in each team’s processes that can benefit from implementing basic working guidelines or rules of thumb. For example:

rules of thumb

1. Instead of having very long tests (30 to 50 steps per test) and/or very small ones (1 step only!), define a target size range for your test. For me it is between 5 and 12 steps, and between 20 to 50 minutes of estimated execution time.

2. Keep the testing repository as flat as possible. I usually have between 4 and 7 levels, with no less than 3 tests per folder and if possible no more than 30.

3. Instead of a shapeless and/or bottomless hierarchical tree, have a consistent and logical structure throughout your whole test repository. One of my preferred structures is something like:
– Project (folder)
– – Application (folder)
– – – Functional Area (folder)
– – – – Sub Functional Area (folder)
– – – – – > Test
– – – – – > Test
– – – – – > Test

4. Keep track of tests that have not been updated or reviewed for a long time by writing down when they were written and/or last updated. I personally use releases instead of dates as it makes more sense to me, and as a rule whenever I see a test that has not been updated for 5 releases I place it on the review list.

These are only some examples of the stuff I like to do, obviously the numbers and ranges are dictated by the nature of the project and the application under test, but the important part is to have a guideline in place.

The need for these improvements becomes apparent after reviewing the procedures that have been in place for years and that we’ve learned to live with in silent acceptance. A general practice I suggest to my peers and customers in order to find their own weak spots is to take advantage of the naivete of their “new testers”. Give them 2 to 3 months to learn the process and then ask them for things they would improve or change, you’ll be surprise of the amount of things that arise from their fresh and unbiased perspective.

About PractiTest

Practitest is an end-to-end test management tool, that gives you control of the entire testing process - from manual testing to automated testing and CI.

Designed for testers by testers, PractiTest can be customized to your team's ever-changing needs.

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  1. Query on Test Case Designing - June 14, 2013

    […] sets. I wrote about some of my rules of thumb in this article about test management in my blog – Rules of thumb vs. Silver bullets | QA Intelligence – a QABlog. I also wrote another post about different things to think about when writing down your test cases […]

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