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Insights | Test Management Tools
9 April, 2024

Build a Foundation for Testing Success: Choosing a Test Management Tool

test management tools are the foundation

Test management tools are more than just tools for managing testing. They give unparalleled views of software development progress, provide quality assurance and peace of mind, and can generate positive returns on investment – more than just paying for themselves.

Selecting the right test management tool will significantly impact the success and efficiency of your software projects.

With so many options available, it’s crucial to understand how tools align with different development methodologies and project needs.

In the last couple of insights, I’ve looked at the history of test management tools and whether paid tools are worth the cost (TLDR: They are).

This week’s insight discusses some of the contenders in the professional/paid test management tool marketplace and concludes with recommendations for Agile/DevOps and one for Waterfall projects.

A Summary of The Contenders

I spend a lot of my time talking with businesses about testing and test tools, from SMEs to huge enterprise customers. While there are many test management tools out there, the same test management tools come up time and time again during these conversations.

Rather than focus on some of the more obscure tools I see mentioned in some online comparisons, I will focus on the tools I hear most about often in my conversations:

  • OpenText Quality Center/ALM
  • OpenText ValueEdge Quality (ALM Octane)
  • Jira + Xray
  • Jira + Zephyr
  • Tricentis QTest

As a brief intro to these tools, Quality Center/ALM and ALM Octane, both from the OpenText suite, offer robust solutions but cater to distinctly different methodologies, namely Waterfall and Agile/DevOps.

The Jira combinations are, naturally, Agile-focused, and Qtest is quite Agile-focused. However, each tool brings its own unique strengths to the table.

In all candour, businesses normally mention only the OpenText or Jira-based tools, but I wanted to include another standalone professional tool.I opted for Qtest because it fits the bill and because the Tricentis employees often help drive the readership of my posts. 😊

OpenText QC/ALM

Quality Center/ALM is a traditional and time-honoured testing powerhouse. It has been used by many of the world’s leading companies on many of the most important software projects.

It is a comprehensive waterfall test management solution. I’ve seen it used on many Agile projects, but that is definitely not its sweet spot.

QC/ALM has an extensive feature set that supports detailed reporting, analytics, and project tracking. It’s particularly suited for organisations with complex software development landscapes, such as SAP and Oracle implementations.

QC/ALM has the deepest heritage of any test management tool, tracing its roots back to Mercury TestDirector. It is a bulletproof option that will rarely, if ever, let you down.

OpenText ValueEdge Quality (ALM Octane)

ALM Octane recently underwent a facelift and is now known as ValueEdge Quality. As such, it forms part of OpenText’s wider ValueEdge value stream management solution.

ValueEdge Quality is built for and thrives in Agile and DevOps environments, but it also caters for Wagile/Hybrid. It’s not the best tool for waterfall, but it does integrate well with QC/ALM.

Its modern interface and seamless integrations with CI/CD tools promote rapid development cycles. It incorporates pipeline data into your application delivery process so you can analyse quality, progress, change impact, and code coverage.

ValueEdge Quality has exceptional reporting and dashboards and can be integrated into ValueEdge Insights, which provides graphical tools for every aspect of your software development lifecycle.

Jira + Xray or Zephyr

Jira + Xray and Jira + Zephyr offer test management capabilities within the Jira ecosystem.

Being Jira-based, both the Xray and Zephyr add-ons are focused on agile environments, providing integration and supporting manual and automated testing workflows.

Jira-based test management tools allow real-time visibility and traceability from requirements to deployment.

This integration ensures that testing is not an isolated activity but a core part of the project lifecycle, enhancing collaboration and efficiency.

The most important thing to remember about these tools is that they are not standalone test management solutions; they just add limited test management functionality to Jira.

Because of this, they lack the all-around capabilities of QC/ALM, ValueEdge, and Qtest—tools that also provide excellent Jira integration.

Tricentis QTest

QTest focuses on intuitive operation and rich visual reporting, with strong CI/CD and Jira integration.

It offers a blend of functionality and user-friendliness in primarily agile settings.

Its emphasis on collaboration and integration helps break down silos between developers and testers, fostering a culture of quality throughout the development process.

Key Considerations When Choosing Tools

There are a number of key factors to consider when choosing these tools. Somewhat controversially, I don’t think cost is one of them.

As discussed in my previous article, these tools are a small and sensible investment compared to the savings they can bring and the impact they will make.

For me, it’s more important to get the right tool for the job and then work out the most cost-effective way to acquire that tool rather than starting with a top-down, budget-first approach.

Methodology Alignment

Whether your team follows Agile, DevOps, or Waterfall methodologies will make a massive difference and should significantly influence your choice of test management tool.

Tools like ALM Octane and the Jira-based tools are designed with Agile and DevOps in mind, while QC/ALM offers the structure needed for Waterfall projects. Qtest sits somewhere in between; it is Agile leaning but also offers waterfall capabilities.

Integration Capabilities

The ability to integrate with other software development tools is an important factor for many people who want to maintain efficient workflows.

QC/ALM offers extensive third-party integration, suited for complex environments. ALM Octane excels in Agile/DevOps spaces with 100 seamless integrations to Jira, CI/CD pipelines, IDEs and more. QTest stands out for its strong Jira and CI/CD tool compatibility, emphasising agility.

Both Jira + Xray and Jira + Zephyr shine within the Jira ecosystem, ensuring test management is tightly coupled with issue tracking and project management, making them decent choices for teams already embedded in Jira’s workflow.

Automation Support

Automation is an increasingly crucial aspect of software testing, and a tool’s ability to seamlessly integrate automated testing into the development process is a significant advantage.

QC/ALM supports a wide range of automation tools, with extensive scheduling and sequencing that allow complex unmanned test execution. ALM Octane and QTest prioritise streamlined automation, integrating effortlessly with CI/CD pipelines for Agile/DevOps efficiency.

Jira + Xray and Jira + Zephyr offer flexible automation within Jira, catering to teams seeking to integrate automated and manual testing seamlessly.

User Interface and Learning Curve

The complexity of the tool and the ease of use can impact team adoption and productivity.

QC/ALM presents a comprehensive yet traditional interface, which might require a small investment in training. Personally, I like the control and power it provides. In contrast, ALM Octane features a modern, intuitive design that minimises the learning curve and helps foster adoption and collaboration.

QTest is known for its user-friendly approach, which sounds appealing but can be a bit limiting for testing professionals.

Jira + Xray and Jira + Zephyr benefit from Jira’s familiar interface, offering a smooth transition for existing Jira users but not necessarily ideal for testers used to pure test management tools.

Which Test Management Tool is Right For You?

Have you noticed that cars are starting to look the same these days? Market segments are converging on standard forms and comparable functionality, and it’s getting that with test management tools.

Just like with cars though, the devil is in the detail. Specific functionality, build quality, maintenance issues, and reliability are increasingly important differentiators.

While each tool presents strengths for various aspects of project management and testing, it is my opinion that the OpenText products offer the best build quality and advanced features and are, therefore, the strongest solutions.

They offer comprehensive and standalone test-management functionality without the need for add-ons. They are also reliable, well-supported, easy to use, and easy to administer. They are tried and tested tools that will give you a rock-solid return on investment (ROI).

Specifically, ValueEdge Quality stands out for Agile/DevOps projects due to its agile-centric features, modern interface, and excellent integration with DevOps tools. It supports rapid iteration and seamless automation, making it ideal for teams working in fast-paced development environments.

On the other hand, QC/ALM is the go-to for Waterfall projects. Its comprehensive feature set and deep analytical capabilities offer the structured approach necessary for sequential development phases, where detailed planning and documentation are key.

Both ValueEdge Quality and QC/ALM tools have a strong pedigree and extensive feature set, are constantly and consistently developed, and will never let you down.

Of course, teams leveraging the Jira ecosystem will be tempted to look at Jira + Xray or Jira + Zephyr. However, I’d still prefer the advanced test management functionality of the OpenText tools, which integrate easily with Jira anyway.

Are you looking for a new test Management tool? I can help.

Stephen Davis
by Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis is the founder of Calleo Software, a OpenText (formerly Micro Focus) Gold Partner. His passion is to help test professionals improve the efficiency and effectiveness of software testing.

To view Stephen's LinkedIn profile and connect 

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