5 top project management principles to live by when testing your software

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Posted by Brian Borg

Businesses that invest in proven project management practices waste 28 times less money. That's according to PMI's Pulse of the Profession report. If that's not a reason to take these project management principles seriously, we don't know what is.

Here are five project management principles to live by when testing your software.

1. Never start a QA cycle without a test plan

Before you even begin testing your next development release, be sure your QA team has created a clear test plan. Inefficient test execution can have serious implications on both the project plan and the overall quality of the product as a whole. Test plans are typically created early on in the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and refined and solidified as you enter the testing phase.

We've gone into more detail in our blog post about the importance of a Master Test Plan (MTP). In short, it will act as you and your team's combined roadmap and checklist for what needs doing during the testing project. Having a plan in place before you begin testing will keep you focused throughout and give you a baseline to track progress against.

2. Communicating progress is as important as making progress

37 percent of project failure is due to poor or lack of communication, according to PMI's research.

Communication is the key to smooth running projects. To ensure quality communication between all stakeholders there should be a common ground for everyone to interact. That might mean using an instant messaging service that allows teams to get in touch instantly alongside a project management (PM) tool.

If you're working with any third-party agencies on your projects it's important to have standardized practices in place. Make sure they have access to your communication platforms so nothing gets lost in long emails and unorganized cross-communication.

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3. Log and document, or it didn't happen

Keeping track of everything you do during the testing process is crucial.

Ensure testers are documenting the tests they run, the results and the analysis. You can use a tool like Jira to make issue-reporting easier.

Clearly logging and documenting efforts and results means that discrepancies between the plan and the actual implementation are identified. You should also record how those discrepancies were handled. This gives you a helpful reference document and allows you to prepare your team for future updates and releases.

4. If you're setting recurring tasks, it's time to automate

A sure sign you need to automate tests is if you're repeating them. Working towards a CI/CD pipeline makes life a whole lot easier. 'Future you' will thank you! Check out our CI/CD guide to get you started.

Automation testing can take a lot of upfront work but, done right, the pros should outweigh those upfront costs. Automating your testing shows ROI results immediately according to research conducted by Test Magazine. It can increase both the productivity and efficiency of your teams. Calculate your ROI and find out if automation is viable for your next testing project.

5. Continuously assess testing against business goals

There are always more tests you can run but that doesn't mean you should run them all. After all, you've got a release deadline, right? And so, it's vital to find the point of diminishing returns.

Take into account things like time to launch, project scope and budget. Figure out what's top of the list by having regular conversations with stakeholders across the organization. It's important to learn how to balance 'perfect' and 'good enough' - especially if you're required to meet milestones in order to unlock further investment. When you understand your company’s high-level business goals, you can work backward to align these with your QA testing strategy.

The OnPath way

Do these project management principles align with your team's way of working? If you're looking to outsource your test management you've come to the right place. With over 20 years of experience in the software testing industry, we'd be happy to help. Get in touch to discuss your company's needs, today.

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