In essence, the term “project management” provides a clear enough description of the term – manage a project that is assigned to you. While this meaning is accurate to a great degree, it isn’t as clear when the projects become more convoluted and complex over time. Add in a few budget constraints and suddenly, the job starts to look a lot like a challenging one.
Project management in software testing walks a similar line but due to the difference in the industry, it has its own unique challenges and quirks. Software development projects are often quite complex and multi-faceted. In order to finish a project on time and within budget, software developers must utilise various efficient planning, organization and monitoring techniques.
Proper Project management makes use of different policies, procedures and principles to plan, implement and finish a project. To guarantee a satisfactory result, projects must start with specified parameters that are designed to produce the desired outcome. Each project that undergoes the project management process needs to follow a project life cycle that basically guides the project from start to end. This is why companies invest heavily in capable PM positions to oversee some of their most prized projects.
Benefits of Project Management in Software Testing
As with most techniques used in the software testing world, utilising proper project management methods has its fair share of benefits too. Let’s go through a few of them:
- Time management: By creating a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) for the project, you can easily manage your efforts across activities and define timelines for the project.
- Scope management: Through project management, you essentially define the scope of testing which is approved by the stakeholders. This eliminates any factor of ambiguity in the scope of testing. This ensures that there is no confusion among the stakeholders of the project.
- Quality management: The acceptance criteria tabled at the start of the testing can help you to manage the quality of the software product.
- Cost management: The WBS of the project will allow you to keep track of the project cost and make any necessary changes in case of deviations.
- Communication management: A thought-out communication process can help you in managing communication among stakeholders.
- Team management: The project management tools help to manage resources better and keep track of the performance of the team members. At the same time, you can utilize the team to the optimum.
- Focused approach: Project management can utilise specific tools to aid the testing process. Test case management tools, for instance, can help the team to maintain a focused approach towards the goals of the test items while keeping track of the tests that have been completed.
Achieving Efficient Project Management in Testing
Just like in any other software development endeavour, software testing also has a fixed start date and an end date. Because of this, software testing can be seen as a project too and project management principles and tools can be used to manage it effectively.
Once the software is given to the software testing team, the initiation phase of the project begins. If you’re overseeing the project as its manager, your job is to review and analyse the business requirements of the software. After this, you identify the procedures and processes that need to be followed, followed by collecting historical data, if any exist, that can be utilised as a reference when testing the software.
After you’ve understood the project, you’ll begin to define the preliminary requirements for it and the risks involved. Then, you’ll define measurable objectives for the testing project and communicate these to the stakeholders. Stakeholders could include the management and the software development teams.
To further develop a successful and detailed roadmap for the software testing project, you can further break down the planning phase into the following sub-phases:
- Defining the scope of Testing: A well-defined and approved scope of the projects makes sure that there is no misunderstanding across teams and the scope does not alter frequently.
- Defining a Test Strategy: The next phase is to define a test strategy, based on the scope you’ve defined. The test strategy is a high-level document that states the approach you intend to take in order to fulfil the objectives of the software testing. This document can generally consist of the scope and approach of testing, the testing tools you’ll be needing, the metrics you’ll utilise the roles and responsibilities of testing teams and tracking and reporting.
- Finalizing Requirements: For proper testing, you must identify tools and techniques that you’ll be using for software testing. These tools include any automation based CLI or GUI based tools or test case management tools.
- Building a Work Breakdown Structure: By creating a work breakdown structure (WBS), you can manage the project to the smallest level. This is done by breaking test projects into small deliverable units of work known as activities.
- Estimating Test Efforts and Defining the Team: After the WBS is made, you should move on to estimating the efforts needed to complete each activity of the WBS.
- Build a Test Schedule: After the previous step, you can define and communicate the test schedule to the stakeholders and get it approved.
- Defining Test Metrics: Clear metrics should be defined and based on these metrics, you’ll be able to define the quality of the software.
- Approve a Software Test Plan: Lastly, you should define a software test plan and have it approved by the stakeholders. This document should cover the answers to these basic questions:
- What to test?
- Who will test?
- When to test?
- And how to test?
With the solid groundwork in place, you’re set to begin your software testing project. With the steps highlighted, we hope we have provided an in-depth understanding of the importance of project management and the advantages it can have for any software development business if leveraged correctly. A solid project management framework can allow the most demanding and difficult projects to be run at many improved and effective levels, which are guaranteed to fail without it.