3 tips to avoid over-writing test cases
Writing thorough, well-defined test cases can set a software project up for success, but there can be too much of a good thing. Quality assurance leaders should be mindful that their team members aren't going overboard with their test writing responsibilities. It can be tempting to try and cover as much ground as possible with an individual test case, but over-writing these assets is often a recipe for failure. That represents a great deal of time that could be better spent tackling other tasks. Furthermore, there's no guarantee that all of that effort will pay off, as the many variables presented by even seemingly simple and straightforward requirements are unlikely to be accounted for by a single test case. To avoid sinking time and resources into over-writing test cases, here are three test management tips to follow:
1. Stay focused
One of the keys to writing effective test cases is to zero in on a particular aspect of any given requirement. A common pitfall that QA teams run into here is underestimating how complex a requirement may be. Instead of writing one test case for one requirement, it's often better to create multiple tools that target a specific scenario or factor. This way, testers won't be beating their heads against the wall trying to come up with the perfect test case that accounts for every single stipulation listed in a requirement.
To further keep teams focused on tackling a particular task or scenario with their test cases, it may be beneficial to segment the creation process itself. Software Testing Help recommended breaking up test cases into four separate stages: basic design, practical functions, procedures and automation. The idea here is that at each step in the process, QA teams are focused on particular aspects of the software performance, beginning at the mere functionality of an application. By the end of this process, automated test scripts will take the reins, and testers can focus on other critical factors like the user interface.
2. Keep it simple
QA teams need to resist the urge to do too much with their test cases. Trying to create a comprehensive test case ignores a few certainties with every software project. One, test cases will always need to be updated at some point to account for changing conditions and needs. That perfect test case will eventually be rewritten, so why spend endless hours covering too much ground in the first case? Secondly, as Software Testing Help noted, test cases often need to be executed in a precise sequential order. The simpler these tools are, the less likely it will be for issues to arise when they are used in testing scenarios. Finally, test cases should be reusable by other members of the team as well as on future projects. It may be difficult for fellow testers to effectively wield a test case that's too complex for its own good.
3. Be flexible
Despite the best efforts of software developers and QA teams, there's no way to comprehensively account for all requirements at the outset of a project. As user demands begin rolling in, priorities and testing needs could change dramatically. That's why it rarely makes sense to try and do too much with a single test case. Down the line, when requirements change, that test case may not be the all-encompassing work of QA art it initially appeared to be. It's far easier to amend tools that are simple in design and address a particular issue, rather than have to worry about how a single change could adversely affect the functionality of a test case.
At the end of the day, the key to avoiding over-writing test cases is to not try to do too much with any one example. A strong test management strategy should include the use of focused and relatively straightforward test cases.
Thanks for sharing great info with good tips.
I completely agree about keeping test cases simple.
I worked with a team of testers who put hundreds of test cases together, all of them were between 100 and 300 steps long. When it came to execution what happened is precisely zero of the tests made any sense, either the steps didn't match the title of the test or step 256 contradicted with step 53. It was because the testers were under so much pressure to make these very long tests that they had to copy and paste big chunks which caused errors.