Creating test reports and communicating all your findings back to the customers or the developers is an important part of software testing process.
Unless the customer or developer gets a regular report of the software development process, how will he know which requirements are fulfilled, which are not and how the system functions?
Keeping the customer, stakeholders, and high authorities aware of the progress of the software is very essential. Thus, test reporting is a regular event performed by software testers after regular intervals.
What is the significance of Test Reporting?
The main aim of test reporting is to inform or communicate an important piece of information to the customer or the developer. Why is informing them important?
The software developers and testers are responsible for the entire project progression. They are accountable for any discrepancies and unmet customer requirements in the software. This is why they need to be very transparent throughout the entire software development and testing process.
Test reporting helps in maintaining a transparency between the customers and testers. All the accomplishments and failures are reported to the customers so that they can better understand the software development process.
A test report explains in detail the objective of the test, the activities performed during testing, time taken during software testing, the feats achieved in software development, the errors found in the system, etc.
The test report is made specifically for the following recipients:
- The Test Managers
The managers are concerned about all the aspects of software development. How the project progresses, the methods applied for testing, the test approaches and technologies used, etc. need to be reported to them. They test managers coordinate, plan and monitor the testing process with the help of the test reports you submit.
- Product Managers
Product managers do not have technical knowledge but they too need to know how the product is progressing. Their main focus is on delivering the product on time and to monitor the implementation of deadlines, they require test reports without technical details.
- The customers
The customers and stakeholders who own the product are the most important target of Test reporting. They are the ones who make decisions on what to include in a software, what their requirements are, how the product will proceed, etc.
Providing a detailed test report to them will help them take better decisions. If they think the product meets all requirements based on the test reports they will give you a green flag, if they believe the product is lacking they will convey their concerns and ideas to you.
You need to include the smallest details of the software in the test report, from the data flow to the graphic diagrams, everything.
Now, the test report solves 3 main purposes:
- It facilitates better decision making
Managers and customers are able to take well informed decisions based on the results of the test reports.
- Indicates the status and quality of the product
A well created test report makes the job of Test managers and stakeholders easy by helping them understand the status of the product. They can identify which areas need work, which functionalities need to be added, etc.
- It helps in finalizing the product
If the customers deem the test report as perfect, they will finalize the product. If they find some requirement loopholes in the report they will ask you to rectify it. This process is harder to perform without a test report as customers do not have any idea of the internal functioning of the system and they cannot take decisions.
Redefining Test reporting
Now that we know the importance of test reporting, we need to know why there is a need to redefine test reporting method.
- Test reports are mostly theoretical and contain lots of technical information. This technical information may not always be understood by the customer. The whole purpose of test reporting is to make customers understand the project progress. If they do not understand it, it defeats the whole purpose of reporting.
- Statistics are a very important part of test reports, however, they are hard to decipher and even harder to figure out. If you want to present statistics in your report you need to present them in a way that is easy to understand.
- No one has the time to go through the entire report. Managers and customers are only interested in the key factors of the report. This does not mean that you can exclude other information. You should create a test report which highlights the important parts.
Owing to all the above factors, there is a need to redefine test reporting method.
- If you can represent complex information in a simpler way, you should not refrain from doing so. Understand the audience you are creating the test report for and accordingly include information. If your target audience is the project manager, you can include the technical details, however, if you are reporting to the customers, make the information easy to understand.
- Graphical representation of data is very important. Your test report can be made more visually pleasing. It will help the audience understand information in a better way. Represent statistics in the form of graphs and charts. Color code your data flow and process flow diagrams to make it less complicated.
- It is important to include the timeline of the process and activates that you performed. How long it took to perform a certain test, when was the test performed, when will the next test be performed, etc. In short, your report should include your test agenda so that the audience stays up-to-date with the project progress.
- Lastly, you need to proofread your report. Redefining the report is all about making it better for the reader and proofreading is an important part of it. You should ensure that the report is not only grammatically correct but also includes all the important information which the customer wants to know.
Test reporting is as important as the testing process itself. It forms the basis of some major customer decisions which affect the testing process. For this reason, it is essential to pay close attention to how test reports are created.
Following the formal test reporting style might not be very effective most of the time as understanding it is quite difficult. There is a need for redefining test reporting method in order to build better, more effective reports which can help customers and managers to take well-informed decisions.