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Top 7 best practices for test management in Jira

How substantial do you think is the role of well-written and properly managed test cases in assuring the quality of a software project? Is it a common practice among your teammates to spend time on polishing existing test scripts, rethinking their current shape and then acting to improve it repeatedly? Or maybe, once created, test cases become a legacy that is only helpful by definition, not because of the brought value.

If decreased testing efficiency or lack of repeatable testing results are among challenges your project faces, in this article, you will find useful tips for fighting such obstacles. The presented seven hints are all about best practices in test management. One great news is that Jira supports most of them, either out of the box or through dedicated testing apps. The only thing left then is the thoughtful implementation!

Having that said, we can now dive into the test cases rules, worth at least considering when aiming at software products of top quality.  

1. Name the test case appropriately. 

The more complex the product, the larger usually is its test base. Poorly named test cases are merely difficult to find at first. As time flies by, the task requires heroic effort. But, more importantly, if the scripts are hard to search, they are also impossible to reuse. Test cases existing in a parallel universe with almost no access shatters the whole point in constructing them neatly. Such test scripts are often gone forever. The team must rewrite them all over again, losing their focus on more significant matters and a chance to observe the original script evolution. Of course, even the most elegant and clear naming practices won’t do any good, unless the test management tool you accustomed allows searching by name/summary. You should definitely keep this feature on your wishlist when looking for testing software.

What is a perfect summary for a test case? It wraps up straight to the point what this particular script tests. The short, informative summary helps users find this test case later on. It is also a good idea to develop and agree on using a test naming strategy to stay consistent.

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2.Reuse your test scripts.

As mentioned above, the reusability of test cases is a cause worth advocating. Avoid creating a new test script each time you perform any test. This mistake is typical for new testers, who still lack familiarity with the project. Instead, take a break, browse available test cases and try to figure out which of them meet your current needs. The chances are that a suitable script already awaits you. Once spotted, reuse or update it, saving time and lowering the risk of downgrades in the quality of a test base.

Remember that building a solid test script from scratch consumes much more resources than executing it. By reusing test cases, you also ensure that the results are comparable to one another - no step is left behind either misunderstood, due to different phrasing or inconsistent preconditions.

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3.Group the test cases when their number rises

It is a natural next step when you finally end up with tons of test scripts which are no longer manageable (and searchable) even by the smartest naming strategy. Grouping system might be the cure at this point. Try categorization by the product component/module (e.g. test scripts for system administration), persona (e.g. test cases for all unregistered users) or any other criterion which will enhance the clarity and keep your test base organized. 

These days, test management tools eagerly support that need for tidiness. Jira enables issues categorization by component Jira field, labels, and many other measures. All of them are also available if you decide to use Jira dedicated testing tools, like QAlity Plus - Test Management to maintain test scripts in your project. Test cases in QAlity Plus, for instance, are Jira issues, so feel free to benefit from their well-known and complex mechanisms of classification.  

Name it well! (2).png

4.Make sure the test script covers edge cases and not just a  happy path.

Is the glass always half full for you? Congrats! However, in the matter of software testing, too much optimism frequently clutters the judgment. A common mistake while creating test scripts is checking if the system works as expected ONLY in the uncontaminated circumstances.

As a result, test steps that verify the whole variety of edge cases are missing. Yet, taking into account situations like a query not returning any results or, on the contrary - more than one page of such, should be a fundamental rule for creating a reliable test case. If you want to spare users unpleasant surprises, prepare for them typing text in the field designed for digits as non-standard behaviours aren't this untypical. 

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5.Clearly define which instructions are steps to execute and which belong to verification.

A good practice is to split a testing instruction into three parts: Test step, Test data, and expected result. The idea underlying such an approach is to maintain a firm separation between step-by-step directions for test execution, clear instructions regarding test data that one should enter into the system, and the desired outcome of a verified interaction. Keeping such a format across the whole test base could be challenging, but apps like QAlity Plus - Test Management for Jira strike again, simplifying the task significantly. With QAlity Plus interface, each test case contains the mentioned format by default. You can even add attachments to the particular steps, to make the instructions even more detailed and graphic.

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6.Use your test cases to represent business requirements/acceptance criteria.

Teams often choose to keep their test scripts and acceptance criteria/business requirements separately. Why is that? Since all people involved in the project collaborate towards a common goal, aiming at a single, complete knowledge base turns out beneficial on many levels. Test cases data and business perspective are often complimentary, and combined offer a much broader overview. Transparency rises, and the development team gains access to all details needed for success. Thriving agile teams also use the technique called specification by example to define and track business requirements as a part of a cooperative process. 

Test management tools, similar to already mentioned QAlity Plus, facilitate information flow by providing users with the option of adding a test case directly to the selected Jira issue. Among the profits mentioned above, such an approach reduces the context switching, and time spent on coordinating data from multiple sources. You can read more about it here:

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7.Add a review/update of the test case step to your development workflow.

To implement this last rule, just having a test management tool will not do the job. As the system changes, a portion of your test cases might no longer be valid. Inputs or system responses frequently change, along with the product growth, and it automatically makes some test scripts invalid. If you are lucky, you will easily spot the most apparent modifications during test execution still in other cases testers might get the wrong impression of a system behaving unexpectedly. Yet, they would see expected product responses only confronted with the outdated test script. 

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Some auto reflection 

Regular revisiting the existing test cases is vital, and a must-have practice, especially if you want to keep scripts reusable thus make sure that it is in your team schedule. Hopefully, QAlity Plus app can help to notice discrepancies between business requirements and test cases even more effectively, due to placing them close to one another in a single Jira issue. 

So, how is the test management going in your project? Have you used this article for a little introspection? The subject is undeniably much more complex than the seven simple rules listed above, yet they are still a place to start the diagnostic process. If you have your golden standards for test management, especially in Jira, please do share them. In the meantime, you may want to give QAlity Plus - Test Management for Jira a shot and check if it can solve some of the described problems for you. 



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