Saturday, May 30, 2009

Why test management tools can cause pain

I'm aware of management tools who claim to support the testing processes. Some of them can be very useful because they can provide information about the number of defects found, number of test cases created and executed, coverage of those cases related to requirements, and more.

This morning I asked myself why I start projects most of the times using MS Excel. In most of the cases it is because of the lack of test management tools. On the internet you might find all kinds of whitepapers why we should use these tools. It can be easy to convince people why to use it. It might be harder to explain people when to use it. It might be even harder to make people think why not to use it.

Here some points which came up in my mind why it wouldn't be wise to use tools:
- When management didn't decide yet what information they need to make decisions;
- When projects are successful because they have the flexibility to adapt their development process and test process based on their situations: multiple test approaches are used;
- When it takes more time to convince users to use the tool and actually using it instead of working (i.e. testing);
- When people start trusting on the information provided by the tool instead of using common sense;
- When the tool provide too much information which distracts people for the real goal of the project;
- When the tool is used to punish people instead of measuring progress and risks.

I think it is important when certain tools are used they are not dominating your test process and forcing you to make decisions how to act because it won't fit in the tool. Tools shouldn't dictate, it should guide and help. They also should leave space for creativity. Management should be aware to judge the information provided by those tools any time.

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