Broadly speaking, Software Testing encompasses all the activities required to find defects in any application/software project, and managing defects as well, for example, test scope determination, test planning, creating/reviewing/managing test cases/test scripts, defect management. Effective testing can save a lot of money/effort in any organisation. Hence, it becomes essential to manage testing projects. By Testing Management, I am referring to controlling all the project related testing activities (for example, their time, a way of execution, etc.). Without effective and proper test project management, the project can run out of control, and the effort/time of entire team won't yield any results. Any testing project consists of a lot of activities, which include technical/non-technical, and there is a team doing the testing. Hence, they have to be managed properly. Managing the testing project is the job of Test Manager, who has to prepare a test management plan, and then has to ensure that the team works according to it. The test management plan might consist of these tasks:
- Testing activities,
- Scope of testing,
- Work breakdown structure,
- Team, Risks,
- Kinds of testing,
- Point of contacts,
- Developer names and the features that they are working on;
All this has to be defined by the test manager. The test manager should also be very pre-emptive/considerate towards the team, and take steps, rather than his/her reporting manager or the customer asking him to do so, should be able to foresee the risks, and create a mitigation strategy, always keep the customer expectations in mind, and take care that the testing team not only meets them but also exceeds them., and gets appreciation for the customer, gets good feedback, should also be very proactive, rather than reactive. He/she should make sure that the work is distributed evenly, across the team members keeping their skills/expertise/talent/experience in mind, and ensure that their career aspirations are met through the ongoing project. Management activities also include resolving conflicts among the team, thinking out of the box, doing proper appraisals of team members.
On the other hand, mismanagement of projects can result in, a big risk (all the effort/time of team getting wasted) materialised, the customer taking back the projects. When in testing mode, it is imperative to understand the requirements for the upcoming release of a product. If it's the first release, then test case writing can be cumbersome, as you have to develop the test cases from scratch, otherwise, if it's a succeeding release, you do have an existing set of test cases to update, which is somewhat easier. Secondly, there are more chances of finding more and more defects (many of them could be critical) in the first release of the product, as it is completely new. In my experiences, if the release consists of porting to a new framework, there can be a lot of integration issues, and both development and testing can be a challenge. Thirdly, the product set up documentation, is significant, if set up is also part of your responsibilities as a QA engineer, as with every new release, the database scripts(schema), import files, installers, configuration properties file change. The QA Engineer, should take utmost care to update existing setup docs, as any discrepancy in the docs or setup steps, prolongs the time required to set up the builds as you spend more time in investigating the issues, doing a lot of rework (doing setup multiple times to get the application up and running) than in actually testing the release.
Also, creating a new setup document takes more time as it requires more investigation and prior experience on the same product line. This is the case when a product has to be tested on multiple environments/platforms before being certified on release. If it's a new release, and the product is being integrated for the first time, then there is a scope of finding a lot of integration issues, as also mentioned above. You need to be in sync with the development team so that you create/update the test cases in time and also change the setup steps. The QA Engineers should be very helpful to the development team in fixing the issues. You have to keep in mind that testing effort has to be in sync with the development effort. The creation/review/updation of test cases should go on in parallel with the development effort. As and when new features come, you should have the test cases ready so that the testing effort doesn't get affected. The development team should do test case reviews. If you are testing the product on various platforms/app servers, then it's important to know about app servers/platforms/databases, before doing the setups, otherwise learning the things for the first time, during the testing cycle takes a lot of time. It's also important to have good debugging skills, as it helps in effective troubleshooting of issues (going through server logs, navigating through build structures/folder structures), going through application code and noticing file changes. So, even having a little knowledge of code files also helps. Also, sometimes requirements change during the middle of the release, so testing activities have to change accordingly.
Regression testing is significant regularly, although new features come in nightly builds, it's essential to ensure that previous functionality is not affected. Test cases also need to be updated as per design/requirements changes) anytime. It's important to focus on the functionality of the application rather than UI bugs. Also, care needs to be taken to smoke/sanity test the nightly builds appropriately.
Many times, formal test case execution, regression testing alone does not find out bugs, so it's vital to do random/ad-hoc/exploratory/scenario based/Gorilla testing at times. Also, test cases should be extensive/out of the box and should also cover negative test case scenarios.
Usually, releases happen every 3-6-9 months, but sometimes, mini releases can also occur, every month or so which come with bug fixes/patches which, make additional functionality work, so they also require a complete cycle of regression testing to be done, along with any further testing, if needed.
In the case of application testing, setting it up takes less time, and you might get the URL's from a separate build and deployment team, so you need to smoke test the build, and if found satisfactory, you can continue testing on it. In effect, you can focus more on the testing of the application, rather than setting it up. Over and above, it's imperative to have a mindset of breaking the application, and at the same time, cooperating with the development team, and the management in order to ensure a quality product on time. There are no frequent releases, so there is a high probability of requirements getting stabilised earlier, and less of test case updation is required
Since we have understood the importance of testing in today's software world, it's essential to have it as part of any computer science student curriculum (undergraduate/postgraduate/school).
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