It goes without saying that in the software development world, it is critical to monitor the progress of your project and resources, from the issues encountered to team member workloads. Within the software quality assurance effort, reporting on the projects under test, the current build and status of issues, and resource workload are some of the specific reports that we here at OnPath Testing gather as part of our testing services to report to the stakeholders. Not surprisingly, most every project management tool will have its own report generation system that draws on the latest numbers of the project, and the software testing tool JIRA provides the convenience of a powerful dashboard for this purpose.
The JIRA dashboard makes it very easy to view and analyze the statistics for different fields such as projects, versions, and users, all filtered and expressed graphically with the help of pie charts, graphs, and other data displays. JIRA refers to these charts and data items as gadgets, which can be customized both by their placement on the page as well as their appearance and behavior. You can also set an auto-refresh time period for a gadget so that there is no need to manually query or refresh in order to see the latest results on your efforts and team.
The gadgets available on the JIRA dashboard can help the QA lead prepare a variety of reports:
- Average Age Report: This report is expressed in the form of a bar chart showing the average duration (in days) for which issues remained unresolved at particular points in time. The project and the issue query is determined by the user as is the unit of time, which may be in hours, days, months or even years. Also, filtering out the tickets marked for a later stage keeps the metric focused on the current efforts. When reading these numbers, expect to find a higher average age when the project is in its initial stages while the app is in development and the team is often ironing out process and communication issues, and as the test/fix cycles become more streamlined this average age should reduce. Looking at the average age report gives the QA team and the management a very good idea of the health of the project, and raise appropriate concerns if necessary.
- Pie Chart Report: This report displays the issues of a project filtered by a query in the form of a pie chart (JIRA Query Language is the technology that JIRA uses for building queries, and will be covered in a future article). The figure below displays the status of the issues related to a project. It is easy to see that a majority of the issues are open, a lot of issues are in progress, few have been resolved and very few have been closed.This chart is useful as a high-level overview of the current build, and helps keep track of the progress of the build plus assess the workload and even the performance of the team members.
- Heat Maps: This is a dashboard gadget which is easy on the eyes, primarily because JIRA does all the number-crunching in the background and what the user sees are the values of an issue key grouped according to a query. In the heat map below, the issue key for the query is ‘Labels’. They are grouped on the Dashboard according to the count of the issues under each Label. What is visible is a larger font size for a Label with a higher count and progressively smaller font sizes for Labels with smaller counts. It displays the issue status according to a filter such as the priority of issues, the number of issues assigned to different labels or the names of the Assigned according to their workload.Along with visual graphs, heat maps are helpful in quickly determining that responsibility is fairly distributed among the team members as new sprints and projects are taken up.
- Created Vs. Resolved Report: With this report, you can view the number of issues created and those which were resolved during a specific time period extending back from the current day. JIRA displays this information as a difference chart with a red line displaying the created issues and a green line displaying the resolved issues. In the figure above, the red line stays on the x axis, indicating that no new tickets have been raised in the specified time period. The y axis is a count of tickets, with a green filled line indicating how many issues were resolved in that week; and the blue line depicts the average of the tickets raised and those which have been resolved. As the developers complete the tickets, the blue line turns downwards, showing a move towards more bugs resolved and presumably a more stable build. Progressively, as fewer issues arise and are reported, the build truly moves towards stability, and the green line comes to rest on the axis. The health and progress of the project can be easily assessed using this report, and is ideal for giving feedback to the management about the pace of work on both the QA and developer end.
- Activity Stream Gadget: This dashboard gadget displays all the recent activity in all active projects by default, however, it can be customized to display information filtered by project, issue key or username to narrow the data displayed. The activity of more than one user also can be monitored by specifying their names in the “Apply Filters” field.
JIRA offers many more reports which can be placed on the dashboard such as the Resolution Time Report and the Recently Created Issues Report, all of which help the QA team lead in keeping the quality assurance process on the right path.
Cloud testing, automated testing, functional testing, regression testing - software quality assurance work take significant time and effort and attention to detail, but with some basic knowledge of metrics to watch for there is every reason why any team should be successful at it. Plus, with tools such as JIRA and its built-in customizable dashboard gadgets, you can not only track your stats, but make them stand out with style!
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