Test Monitoring and Test Control in Software Testing

Test Monitoring and Test Control in Software Testing

In software product development, ensuring the quality and reliability of software applications is paramount. This is where software testing plays a pivotal role. However, the testing process itself requires careful management and oversight to guarantee its effectiveness and efficiency. This is where the concepts of “Test Monitoring” and “Test Control” step in.

Imagine a ship sailing through uncharted waters. To reach its destination safely, it requires not just a captain but also a crew that monitors the weather, navigational charts, and ship systems. Similarly, in software testing, effective monitoring and control are vital to steer the project toward successful outcomes.

In this blog, we will discuss test monitoring and test control and how it plays a vital role in the testing phase. 

What is Test Monitoring?

Test Monitoring is the process of assessing and providing feedback on ongoing testing activities. It uses certain techniques to make sure that specific goals are achieved during each testing phase as planned.

Monitoring involves comparing the current state of testing tasks with a pre-defined plan and analyzing if the process is delivering the expected outcomes. Just as it’s important to monitor testing processes, the concept of website monitoring also becomes central, ensuring websites perform optimally and align with user expectations. It is an integral part of the software testing lifecycle and quality assurance processes.

Test monitoring helps stakeholders stay informed about the testing efforts and the quality of the software being developed. It provides visibility into whether the testing is on track, whether the quality goals are being met, and whether any corrective actions are required to ensure successful project outcomes.

Why is Test Monitoring Important?

Test monitoring can help you identify ways to enhance your testing procedures. Since some software tests in the testing process may take months, having proper test monitoring strategies is crucial. It involves tracking the execution of test cases, evaluating the quality of testing, and identifying any issues that may arise during the testing phase of a software development project. Below are some of the other benefits,

  • Extending the range of results from a test 

A developer might initially design a test for a particular set of information. Gathering more information will help refine the test procedure before it is completed.

  • Experimenting with additional criteria

This test can help researchers with more amount of information and add more variables to tests.

Test Monitoring Tasks

Test monitoring involves several tasks,

  • Providing updates to the QA team and stakeholders about the ongoing sprint test cycles.
  • Sharing the current test results with everyone involved.
  • Keeping track of important test metrics.
  • Planning and determining what to do next based on the tracked metrics.

Key Metrics in Test Monitoring

Monitoring tests involve tracking various metrics to assess the progress, quality, and effectiveness of the testing process. Here are some key metrics that can be used for monitoring test execution,

  • Test Case Execution Metrics (pass/fail/blocked/on hold, etc.)
  • Test Preparation Metrics
  • Test Coverage Metric
  • Defect Metrics
  • Requirement Traceability Metrics
  • Dates of test milestones.
  • Subjective confidence of testers in the product.
  • Testing costs
  • Status of each task (on schedule, delayed, or ahead of schedule)
  • Resource Consumption

Why Do we Monitor?

Let’s take a simple example to understand why we should monitor and control test activities.

Consider that the image below is the final test plan and the milestones for each activity. And your management has agreed to go ahead with your test estimation and test planning. 


Test monitoring and Test control

So, the team should work together to complete the test tasks as per the milestones above. Things seem perfect in the first three weeks. But by week 4, you notice things aren’t going as per your test plan. 

That is, the task “Making Test Specification,” which had to be done by 02/10/14, was not completed as per the timeline. Instead, there is a delay of four days (02/14/14). Now, this will have a cascading effect, and all the other tasks will also be delayed.

The team has missed the timeline and the overall deadline of the project.

As a result, the project fails, and the company might lose customer trust.

You will be in a situation where you will be answerable to your boss’s question, like,

Why did you miss the project deadline?

  1. I forgot to monitor and control the project
  2. My team didn’t perform well
  3. Not sure why

No matter how well you might plan, things might go wrong unless you follow a strategy. That is why you need to monitor your projects actively. Doing so will help you with the following,

  • Catch issues and plan changes early.
  • Show everyone where the project is and if the plan matches reality.
  • Helps the Manager ensure the project is on track with goals. Adjust resources or budget as needed.

Project monitoring is like checking the gas gauge in your car while driving. Just as you see how much gas is left in the tank to avoid running out, monitoring your project helps you avoid problems and ensure you reach your goal without any disasters.

What Do We Monitor?

The following metrics will be monitored during the testing process,

  • Cost 
  • Schedule
  • Resources
  • Quality
Test Monitoring

Cost

It is crucial to monitor and control project costs. You have to estimate and keep track of the costs involved. Making sure the project stays within its budget is crucial and requires getting the estimations right from the start.

As the project progresses, it’s vital to watch these expenses closely. To handle all these tasks effectively, you need to oversee and manage the project budget. Keeping an eye on the budget is a must for successfully finishing a project on target.

Schedules

Maintaining proper schedules is also vital. Think of it like driving a car without knowing how long the trip will be. Just like you need a plan to know when you’ll reach your destination, projects need schedules too. No matter how big or small the project is, having a schedule is crucial.

Planned schedules will help you tell the following,

  • What is the best time to finish each task?
  • Are any tasks already completed?
  • The right order to complete tasks

Resources

Resources for a project include everything that is required to do the tasks. They can be people or tools, depending on the job. Resources can slow down a project. Sometimes, plans change – people quit, or money gets less. If you find out about these problems early, you can fix them. 

Quality

Monitoring Quality means checking specific work items to see if they meet the expected standards. If they don’t meet the standards, you have to come up with possible ways to fix the issues.

When to Collect Data for Test Monitoring?

How often we gather data for monitoring depends on the project. For instance, if the project will be done in a month, it’s good to collect data every week. But if the tests are complex and need careful watching, we might need to gather data twice a week.

How to Do Test Monitoring?

Multiple stages come under the test monitoring process. Most of which are influenced by factors, such as project timeline, goals, available resources for testing, and possible roadblocks.

However, there are a set of general steps that you can follow to perform test monitoring:

  • Create a test monitoring plan

Similar to any other process in testing, start with creating a test monitoring plan. Your objective should be to clearly define the goals of test monitoring along with the necessary points it should capture. Decide what metrics to capture, when to record them, and how to assess them. For instance, cost, time, and resources used could be metrics important to your test monitoring plan. You can collect these data bi-weekly and use them to formulate better decisions to improve the quality and delivery of testing. 

  • Update and report the progress

Next up is to keep the report updated with changing scenarios. You have jotted down the points to capture in the plan. Then, you would just need to keep updating the test control data and make adjustments to the testing process to get optimum output.

  • Analyze the progress reports to make the right decisions

As mentioned, after updating the records regularly, use the newly added data. Compare the original or old data with the new data to analyze. It will help you to understand if the progress is in the positive direction or the negative direction. For example, you can see how much time you initially spent on individual tasks and what resources were spent on it. Then, compare it to the updated information to assess the testing project direction.

  • Present the report

Lastly, make it understandable for stakeholders and other team members to read the report and make informed decisions in their projects (if any).

How to Evaluate Progress through Collected Data?

It’s a good idea to set up how we will evaluate the work in the monitoring plan at the project’s start. This will help the teams understand how their work will be assessed. The following are the two simple ways to measure progress,

  • Compare the pre-planned progress in the test plan with the real progress the team has made.
  • Use the previously defined criteria to check the project’s progress. For instance, if a task took 20% more effort than planned, it shows how the project is moving forward.

What is the Best Way to Monitor a Test?

No single-handed approach is good for monitoring tests if you aim to get some positive results out of the process. Combine automated tools, manual observation, and regular communication among team members to ensure that the test monitoring activity leads to the right outcome.

Test management tools are useful in collecting and analyzing metrics by tracking test execution processes to generate reports in real-time.

Alternatively, manual observation ensures qualitative insights into the testing process. Regular meetings and status updates among team members facilitate effective communication and prompt identification of any issues or deviations, allowing for timely corrective actions.

What is Test Control?

While test monitoring gives a clear perspective on the ongoing testing tasks, test control helps teams to take corrective measures based on the observations gained from test monitoring. In simple words, it is the practice of actively managing and regulating the testing process to ensure that it aligns with project goals, is effective, and delivers reliable results. 

Test control is a crucial aspect of software testing that involves managing and regulating the testing process to ensure it is effective and efficient. 

It involves making decisions based on the information gained from the test monitoring process. Here, the tests will be prioritized, the test schedules will be revised, changes will be made to the test environment, and other refinements related to testing activities might be done to enhance the efficiency and quality of the future testing process.

Why do you Need Test Control?

If you are a tester, project manager, or a developer, you would know how the testing (or even developing) process can easily go astray if not managed properly. For such reasons, having a test control in place for software testing is a necessity not a want.

Some problems you can expect to encounter revolve around product functionality, performance, UI, and usability. The challenges can become an issue for timely release of the product and customer satisfaction.

Test control helps in identifying these roadblocks and effectively managing the software quality.

Executing Test Control Activities

These steps are critical for test control activities:

  • Monitor the process: Monitor the progress of testing activities against the predefined plan and objectives. Use testing metrics and progress reports to track the execution of test cases, defect discovery, and resolution.
  • Identify the deviations: Discover any deviations from the planned testing activities, quality standards, or project objectives.
  • Assess the risks: Evaluate the impact of identified deviations on project timelines, budget, quality objectives, and overall testing goals.
  • Prioritize the issues: Consider the severity and potential consequences of deviations on the project’s success criteria to prioritize deviations’ impact on project goals, and urgency for resolution.
  • Take corrective actions: Determine the root causes of issues to develop specific corrective actions required to address each identified deviation effectively.
  • Monitor progress: Continuously monitor the progress of implementing corrective actions and resolving identified issues. Track key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the effectiveness of corrective measures and their impact on the testing process.

Corrective Measures in Test Control

Once your team has identified the issues and variation from the plan, follow the below corrective measures:

  • Prioritize the testing efforts: Based on issue criticality and area of application, choose which tests to perform before another. 
  • Review the testing schedules: If you are behind schedule due to whatever reason, it is time to review and revise the timeline to keep on track.
  • Manage the resource allocation: Not every testing activity will require the same amount of resources, be it workers or tools. You will have to identify how much resources different testing processes require to do the allocation accordingly.
  • Change the testing scope: Lastly, take a different route if test coverage is inadequate or if updates/modifications are introduced in the testing process.

Role of Real Devices in Test Monitoring and Test Control

If it isn’t a mandate in your team, make it so now. All tests must be performed on real devices to stay as close to real user experience as possible. This approach keeps the credibility and accuracy of test monitoring and test control intact.

Real devices play a crucial role in both test monitoring and test control by providing accurate and reliable data for assessing the performance and functionality of software applications across different platforms and environments. 

In test monitoring, real devices enable testers to continuously monitor test case execution in real-world conditions. Test control relies on real devices to identify deviations from the testing plan or quality standards, allowing testers to take corrective actions promptly. By utilizing real devices, testers can validate the effectiveness of corrective measures and ensure that the application meets the desired quality standards, ultimately enhancing the overall testing process and delivering a better user experience.

While emulators and simulators serve as valuable tools for certain aspects of software testing, they often fall short when it comes to accurately replicating the real user experience.

Checklist for Test Control Activities

Having a checklist guides the testers or anyone involved in the project to focus on what is necessary and only take into account the activities that impact the test control process.

  • Review any deviations from the testing plan or quality standards identified during test monitoring.
  • Evaluate the impact of deviations on project timelines, quality objectives, and overall testing goals.
  • Update testing documentation, such as the testing plan, test cases, and defect logs, to reflect any changes made during the test control process.
  • Continuously monitor the progress of implementing corrective actions to ensure they are effective in addressing the identified issues.
  • Adjust testing strategies, resource allocation, or quality assurance processes based on lessons learned from the test control activities.
  • Periodically review the test control process itself to identify areas for improvement and optimize the effectiveness of future test control activities.

Best Practices in Test Monitoring and Test Control

Both test monitoring and test control are essential for ensuring the success of software testing efforts. Here are some best practices to consider when implementing them,

Follow the Standards

In project planning, it’s crucial to consider standardization. This means that all project tasks should stick to the same set of guidelines. When processes, tools, templates, and measurements are standardized, it becomes simpler to analyze things, communicate effectively, and help team members understand the situation more clearly.

Proper Documentation

What could occur if you don’t put discussions or decisions into a document? You might forget them and miss out on important details. That is where proper documentation helps. It is essential to document these discussions and decisions in the right place. Doing so helps prevent misunderstandings within your project team and resolves communication issues.

Proactivity

Problems are common in every project. What matters is that you need to take a proactive approach to solve these problems that come up while the project is happening. These problems could be related to budget, scope, time, quality, or resources.

Automated Testing 

Utilize automated testing tools that provide real-time insights into the testing process. These tools can generate reports, dashboards, and alerts to keep stakeholders informed. Testsigma is a robust test automation platform that helps you automate your web, mobile, desktop, and API testing in one place.

It gives great insights into how your testing is done, detailed test reports via screenshots, logs, and videos. You can track your testing time and review your test cases on the go.


Conclusion

Remember that test monitoring and test control are not mere concepts to be acknowledged but practices to be embraced by QAs. While test monitoring provides us with data, test control transforms this data into actionable insights. Together, they help identify weaknesses, seize opportunities, and create an effective testing process that not only meets quality standards but also paves the way for continuous improvement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is test monitoring important?

Test monitoring is important because it helps teams figure out how to improve their testing approach to get better results. Certain tests can last for months, so having a good test monitoring plan can help developers save time and work more efficiently.

Which set of metrics can be used for monitoring test execution?

Let’s take a look a some of the key test metrics that will be used to monitor tests,

  • Test case execution metrics,
  • Defect metrics,
  • Test Coverage metrics,
  • Requirement Traceability Metrics,
  • Testing costs,
  • Status of each task, etc.

What is the difference between monitoring and testing?

Monitoring involves observing and recording the progress, status, and quality of testing activities in real-time, providing visibility into the testing process. 

Testing, on the other hand, focuses on systematically executing test cases to identify defects and verify the functionality and performance of a software application against specified requirements. 

While monitoring tracks the ongoing testing progress, testing is the actual process of evaluating the software’s behavior and performance.


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