Throughout my tenure in the Software Testing industry, I seldom come across dialogue concerning software testing documentation.
Most people perceive documentation tasks such as generating test cases, test plans, status reports, bug reports, and project proposals as something that can be accomplished by anyone who has extra time on their hands.
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In my personal routine, I do not prioritize documentation heavily, but I ensure that all key data are duly recorded and periodically updated.
<img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-106331″ src=”https://iptvassist.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Software-Testing-Documentation-Guide-Why-Its-Important.png” alt=’Software Testing Documentation Guide (Why It’s Important)” width=”650″ height=”366″ srcset=”https://iptvassist.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Software-Testing-Documentation-Guide-Why-Its-Important.png 650w, https://iptvassist.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/1_Software-Testing-Documentation-Guide-Why-Its-Important-300×169.png 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 650px) 100vw, 650px” />
Here’s What You Will Learn:
Value of Software Testing Documentation
Recounting My Experience
I wish to narrate a personal incident:
There was an instance when we handed over a project to a client who found an unidentified issue, putting us in an awkward position. The QA team was, as is usual, held accountable.
The problem was about the compatibility of a website. To my relief, I had documentary proof that we were never given a requirement document stating the need for website compatibility testing. This certainly saved me from the brunt.
This event underscored the criticality of documentation for me. Henceforth, I began paying attention to creating testing documents such as test plans, test cases, sanity testing checklists, bug reports, and many more.
“The palest ink is better than the best memory” – Chinese saying
Decoding Test Documentation
Much is written about testing technologies and methodologies, but rarely is the aspect of documentation touched upon. Does this suggest that documentation isn’t important? Not at all. We have simply not come to terms with its relevance.
Upon careful observation, it’s evident that projects backed by detailed documentation exhibit a higher degree of sophistication.
Companies typically don’t assign the same priority to documentation as they do to the software development procedure. Web-based document templates abound, but how many are actually employed by businesses or individuals?
The reality is, thorough documentation can preserve an organization’s time, effort, and capital.
Why do certifications necessitate documentation? Because it underscores the significance of clients and processes to both entities and individuals. Without a user-oriented document, regardless of the quality of your product, it will fail to gain acceptance.
In one instance, I encountered a product with a baffling function.
When I sought assistance from my manager, their response was, “We don’t have any documents.” That set off alarm bells for me, for, as a QA professional, I understand that in the absence of documents or training, no one would comprehend how the product operates.
In such a case, where users are discontent, how can the product become profitable?
“An absence of documentation is becoming an acceptance hurdle” – Wietse Venema
The same principle applies to user manuals. Consider Microsoft’s strategy of always releasing products with comprehensive documentation. They ensured user-friendly and explanatory documents for Office 2007, which significantly contributed to the product’s success.
It’s fairly common in small businesses to witness project rejections during the proposal or inception stage. This mostly happens due to imprecise language in the proposal documentation, failing to highlight the organization’s capabilities.
It’s not that small companies are incompetent in delivering high-performing projects. The main issue is their lack of ability to adequately articulate their potential. (I have personally experienced this multiple times while being a part of a small organization with 80 employees).
Quality is the only department that can tackle this issue. We are the only team that can advocate for the importance of documentation and steer our organizations towards a prosperous future.
Let’s recap the importance of documentation from a quality perspective:
- Establish clear quality objectives and methodology.
- Maintain task clarity and consistent performance.
- Facilitate internal coordination in client-related tasks.
- Provide feedback on preventive steps.
- Share feedback on your planning cycle.
- Create objective evidence of your quality management system’s performance.
After all, “the documentation itself requires documentation,” doesn’t it?
10 Tips to Help You Achieve Test Documentation Goals
Everybody should have standard templates for different forms of documentation, including test plans, test cases, and bug reports, regardless of our trope to link software testing documentation to someone’s free time.
Compliance with standards (e.g., CMMI and ISO) is crucial, but so is the effective implementation of these documents.
One of the simplest ways to maintain consistent documentation is to involve a team member who is well-versed with the project dynamics, domain, objectives, and technology from the very beginning. Assuming the absence of technical writers, especially in smaller companies, who could be better suited for this role than a QA professional?
To achieve our testing and documentation goals, we should prioritize the following areas:
Here are the top 10 tips to help you accomplish your test documentation goals:
#1) Engage the QA team from the start of the project to foster cooperation between QA and Documentation.
#2) Ensuring that technical staff adheres to QA-defined processes will help identify and address most defects at an early stage.
#3) Creating and maintaining software testing templates isn’t enough; implementing their use is also critical.
#4) Always update your documents as and when required, do not create them and then forget about them.
#5) Treat change requirements as a key project phase and incorporate them into the documentation.
#6) Implement version control for all documents to ensure easy management and tracking.
#7) Simplify the defect remediation process by accurately documenting all defects. Include clear descriptions, steps to reproduce the issue, areas affected, and author details for each defect.
#8) Document aspects necessary for your understanding of the workflow and what you must present to stakeholders when required.
#9) Use standardized templates for documentation, such as Excel sheets or document files, and maintain consistency for all your documents.
#10) Make all project-related documents available in a single place for easy access and updates by all team members.
Embracing these steps won’t deliver overnight results. Change is a gradual process, but starting now, we can slowly witness these changes taking effect.
There are numerous documents involved in the software development and testing lifecycle.
Key Software Testing Documents
Here is a list of essential software testing documents that should be consistently used and maintained:
- Test Plan
- Test Design and Test Case Specification
- Test Strategy
- Test Summary Reports
- Weekly Status Report
- User Guides / Manuals
- User Acceptance Report
- Risk Assessment
- Test Log
- Bug Reports
- Test Data
- Test Analysis
Software testers often refer to the following documents:
1) Software Requirement Specifications
2) Functionality documents
Software Testing Documents are an integral part of the project development and testing process. Hence, it is advisable to document whenever feasible and not rely entirely on spoken communication. Always stay on the side of caution.
Documentation not only covers individuals but also contributes to saving considerable resources in the organization by reducing training and resolving issues caused by insufficient development and testing documents.
Developing a routine of documentation helps bring a structured methodology to your testing process, replacing haphazard testing methods, and not just to avoid being the brunt of criticism.
About the Author: This write-up has been penned by Tejaswini, a member of the STH team and a QA manager in a firm.
What kind of documents do you update regularly during your day-to-day testing activities? Feel free to share your views in the comments section below.