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A Quality Assurance Guide on Test Reporting

Some of the qualities of being a good tester is to be able to share details precisely, state the facts and reproduce the issues if needed. To achieve good test reporting, the tester must be able to find the issues. The problem with communicating test reports starts when there is no accurate test result or domain knowledge of the requirements.

Finding the Issues

In this field, I have realized that while testing, it is important to focus on the test at hand, this will ensure that when reporting, you will be reporting facts rather than assumptions. If you are not sure of the output or result of a test case, it is better to mark that test as “Retest”. Assumptions will not help the developers, rather they might affect the testing time which in turn affects the product delivery if that issue does not actually exist.

Another issue that may affect your test reporting is unstable internet. If the internet is unstable, it is better and advisable to pause your test until you have a better network connection. Not only does this affect the testing time, because it might take forever for a page to load but a test case may fail only because the internet is unstable.

Looking at some products that I have been opportune to work on, I have realized that understanding requirements is also critical. Reviewing the requirements not only for the purpose of writing out test cases but also to understand what needs to be done. Ask for clarifications if needed. You may not exhaust all the questions at the beginning stage, but continue asking as the software is being developed or when a modification is required. This will ensure that the test cases are clear and concise — hence it will give you full knowledge of what you are looking for when testing.

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Now let us take a moment away from the issues that need to be fixed or the ones that require improvements. Let us talk about communicating the results to the necessary stakeholders and team members. Finding out that a software has defects is not enough, fixing those defects is what will make the software quality. In between finding out the issues and fixing them, there’s a gap, and that is communication. If the product managers and developers do not understand the issues, finding out the issues alone cannot fix them.

Giving Feedback

Now that we have found the issues, how do we communicate them to the necessary stakeholders? Whether the communication will be done via report summary, standup meeting, or all-hands, one fact remains, a quality assurance analyst or engineer should be professional, proficient in communication, and be able to stick to only facts. During test reporting, the tester should be objective and diplomatic. The goal of the communication is to enhance product quality and optimize the development process. Aggressions should not be passed or transferred. That a Software is buggy should not affect the tone of communication. You will be communicating with a plethora of people — Product Managers, Developers, members of the projects, Top Management, or Users. The communication should be relevant to all of them.

For effective communication, it is important to determine the level of details that is required depending on whom you are communicating with. Communication can either be inward or outward. The top management may only be interested in the defect trends, how the issues have been resolved over time, the current status of the project, how many percentages passed, and how many failed. This outward communication needs to be brief and straight to the point but when communicating with the development team or product manager, the inward communication should include every detail, severity, number of bugs found, description of the issues, and areas that are constantly regressing, i.e., prone to defects.

Whatever type of communication will be used, it is important to consider it as an occasion to encourage quality and so it must be effective and easy to understand.

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Cost of Quality

The cost of quality includes the cost of hiring developers to write clean and maintainable code, the cost of writing test cases, managing the test cases and detecting defects, the cost of retaining the developers to continue building and fixing the defects, and the cost implication on the organization when poor quality software is delivered — external failure cost.

The cost of quality is already high, effective communication will help to enhance the reputation for product and process quality and thereby provide business value.

Article Submitted by Charity Odoh

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