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2 April, 2024

Risk v Reward: Are Test Management Tools Worth It?

risk v reward

Are test management tools worth the money? It’s easy and common to assume there are more impactful ways to spend project funds than test tools. But does this downplay the important role a professional test management tool can play in success?

Is it worth investing a small portion of project budget in a tool that can save time, cut costs, protect your reputation, and play a significant part in achieving your business goals?

This is article two of our series on test management tools and looks at whether paid professional tools are worth the costs.

Software Development Isn’t Cheap

We all know that software development requires investment. There are just so many things to spend money on, including people, software, hardware, and so many other additional overheads.

Of course, the level of investment depends on the size and scale of your project. Some projects will cost more, some will cost less, but all projects cost something – and the budget has to come from somewhere.

Unfortunately, software projects don’t always go as smoothly as you’d like; even the best-laid plans will encounter regular curveballs.

These could be anything from scope creep to last-minute no-goes, unexpected complexity, additional resource needs, or a host of other unforeseen complications. All of these hiccups have the potential to increase project costs.

So, given these costs, does allocating additional budget to testing make financial sense?

Testing Can Make The Difference Between Success and Failure

Look, I get it. Testing is not as sexy as some parts of the development process, but efficient and well-run testing is often the difference between successful implementations and costly failures.

It might help to look back on projects you’ve been involved with. If you’re not directly involved in testing, it might be difficult to assess the impact that testing had, but I guarantee it will have played a key role, for better or for worse.

Did you notice any communication issues between the dev and the test? Were testers able to communicate effectively, draw attention to the right areas, and catch issues? What happened post-go-live?

What Happens When Test Management Tools Aren’t Used?

If you can think of projects with issues in the above areas, your test team probably didn’t use a professional test management tool.

Testing without a proper test management tool is like trying to herd cats while wading through treacle blindfolded.

Everything will take longer, the risk of mistakes will increase, and you won’t have access to up-to-date testing information.

Reporting is Slow and Inaccurate

Without a dedicated professional test management tool, creating reports is an absolute nightmare for test managers.

Collecting disparate results from various testers and compiling them into something accurate and up-to-date that actually makes sense for stakeholders just takes so much time. Reports generated without test tools are unreliable at best, and they may be completely inaccurate and meaningless.

So Many People End Up Wasting Time

It’s not just the test managers who lose time, though—stakeholders waste time trying to comprehend what’s going on with the whole process when all they really need is a snapshot. Testers and developers waste time trying to create and progress defects through even the simplest workflows.

Defects Slip Through The Net

Speaking of defects, triage becomes a complete pain without a test management tool! Identifying, prioritising, and assigning defects for resolution becomes needlessly complicated when there isn’t a shared real-time view of defects status.

Poor defect triage can be a disaster for projects, especially when go-live is approaching and nobody really knows where the problem areas lie, who understands the issues, and who can fix them

Tests and Results Go Missing

Another issue is lost assets. Try maintaining an accurate library of test cases, test plans, test sets, and auditable results on multiple desktops or even a filing system on a shared drive. There is no way to ensure consistency of format, details or storage of these assets. Things go missing, and failed tests slip through the net.

I could go on…, but suffice to say that working without a test management tool will cause you significant problems and have far-reaching consequences.

You might be thinking, can’t we use Excel? Unfortunately not. I love Excel, but you should check out my insight, Excel: Sabotaging Software Testing Since 1987, to understand why that battle was lost a long time ago.

Test Management Tools Form The Core of Every Successful Test Team

On the other hand, whenever you’ve had positive experiences with testing, I am willing to bet that the test team used a professional test-management tool.

That’s not to belittle testers in any way; I am sure they were equally awesome. But great testers need proper tools that allow them to do their job, and the most important of these is a professional test management tool.

Let’s look at some of the work that test management tools do and the ways you might have taken those solutions for granted:

Centralised Test Case Management (Nothing Goes Missing)

Professional test management tools provide a single source of truth for all test assets, be it test cases, plans, results, defects or anything else.

This centralisation ensures that everyone on the team, from testers to developers to project managers, can access up-to-date information, understand test coverage, and see the status of testing efforts in real time.

It eliminates the chaos of scattered documents and ensures no critical information is lost or overlooked.

Automated Reporting and Real-Time Insights

These tools automate the generation of reports, providing stakeholders with immediate insights into the health of the project.

Real-time dashboards offer snapshots of testing progress, defect hotspots, and other key performance indicators, allowing for prompt decisions based on the latest data.

This level of visibility is invaluable for keeping projects on track and aligning team efforts towards common goals.

Efficient Defect Management & Easy Triage

With integrated defect management capabilities, test management tools streamline the identification, tracking, and resolution of defects.

They speed up triage and enhance communication between testers and developers. This communication is vital for successful projects; if it breaks down, you’re in trouble.

Enhanced Collaboration Between Teams

As I just mentioned, communication is key to success. Professional test management tools foster better communication and collaboration within the team by providing a shared platform for all testing activities.

Testers can easily share findings, developers can quickly respond to issues, and project managers can monitor progress and mediate between parties. These tools reduce misunderstandings and help everyone work towards the same quality objectives.

Traceability and Compliance

Test management tools offer comprehensive traceability features, linking requirements, test cases, and defects.

This traceability is crucial for assessing the impact of changes, ensuring that testing covers all requirements, and demonstrating compliance with industry standards and regulations. For projects in regulated industries, this capability is often not just beneficial; it’s mandatory.

Reusable Test Assets

A significant advantage of using professional tools is the ability to create, store, and reuse test assets across projects.

This repository of knowledge saves time and effort in future projects, allowing teams to build on past successes and continuously improve their testing processes.

Not only that, but the standardisation enforced by tools means that well-written tests can be picked up and run by anyone; they’re all in the same format and stored centrally.

Scalability and Flexibility

Unlike homegrown solutions built with Excel, professional test management tools are designed to scale with your project and organisational needs.

They can handle the complexity of large, distributed teams working on multi-faceted projects, accommodating various testing methodologies and integrating with other tools in the development ecosystem.

Are Professional Test Management Tools Worth The Premium?

Ask yourself, is it worth paying for a tool that allows you to:

  • Cut project timelines
  • Decrease the risk of live issues
  • Enhance your project’s success rate
  • Increase Collaboration
  • Drive quality
  • Maximise test team efficiency
  • Always have an up-to-date view of testing status

Test Management Tools Aren’t Expensive

Here’s the thing: Professional test management tools aren’t expensive—you’d be surprised just how little they cost. They far outweigh any initial investment.

You can get a professional test management tool like ALM Octane/ValueEdge Quality for less than £36 per person per month. This is for a highly secure SaaS product with hosting, support, best-in-class functionality and easy integration into most development landscapes.

That’s around £1 a day per tester, way less than a cup of coffee.

It’s a bit of a cliché, but rather than asking if you can afford to buy a test management tool, it’s better to ask if you can afford not to.

Don’t let inefficiency and risk undermine your project’s success. Discover how professional test management tools can transform your approach to testing. Schedule your demo and request a quote today.

Check out last week’s article, the first in this test management series: Test Management Tools: Past, Present, and Future

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 

Stephen Davis LinkedIn profile

2nd April 2024
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