Measurement and Metrics for Test Management

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Lord Kelvin said “To measure is to know”. Measuring something is a very critical activity because “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it”. So very apt for test measurement and metrics!

Metric, in common parlance, refers to “a system or standard of measurement.” For example, the mileage a car actually gives per litre of fuel compared to the mileage claimed by the manufacturer.

In terms of software, testing metrics (also known as test measurement) is the “quantitative measure of the extent, capacity, dimension, amount or size of some attribute of a system, system component, or process.”

Simply put, metrics is the quantitative measure using which we can estimate and verify the progress, quality, and health of a software testing effort. For example, the total number of defects present in an application.

Software testing metrics are used to analyse a software testing process in terms of performance, functionality, etc., and then using the data to improve its the quality and efficiency.

The Need for Measuring Test Metrics

Measuring Test Metrics is a highly business-critical activity that helps us:

  • Understand the specific type and amount of improvement required
  • Make correct and proper decisions related to technology or process change
  • Take well-informed decisions for the corrective actions to be taken
  • Gather fool-proof evidence of the claims made

Things to Consider While Identifying the Metrics

While collection and measurement of metrics is important, it is even more important to understand and define the correct testing metrics. If not done properly and with due diligence, collection of wrong data will have a double negative impact – not only would you have collected data that is of no use, you would also have wasted a lot of time and efforts on the same.

Here’s a list of a few things that must be taken into consideration while specifying test metrics:

  • Identify the target audience that needs the specific data – who are you collecting the data for?
  • Define a well-established goal and purpose for the metric being collected – and share it with the entire team
  • Explain all relevant and related metrics that are required for the project in question
  • Spend time to understand the cost impact or benefits of spending efforts on the collection of each identified metric, and allocate the phase that will benefit the most

Types of Metrics

Metrics are usually of the following three types:

  • Product related metrics: These metrics relate to the quality of software products and identifying them and taking corrective actions helps improve the quality of the product.
  • Process related metrics: These metrics, if identified and analyzed properly, help improve the efficiency of a process, for example, SDLC.
  • Project related metrics: These metrics are used to measure the efficiency with which a project is being run, and the tools being used in the project.

Different Stages of the Testing Metrics Life cycle

The Testing Metrics Life cycle usually consists of 4 phases: Analysis, Communication, Evaluation, and Report generation. Following are the brief details of the specific activities that need to be performed in each phase:

  • Analysis
    • Identify the specific metric that is to be measured. For example, the process related to project tracker.
    • Keeping in mind the identified metric as the base, define clearly the metrics as required. For example, the number of test scripts to be executed per day.
  • Communication
    • Explain the need for metric to stakeholder and testing team: This will help the teams understand the importance of collecting details for the specific metric.
    • Educate the testing team about the data points need to be captured for processing the metric: Identify and explain to the team the specific details that need to be tracked, determine the tracking frequency, and allocate the responsible resource. For example, at the end of each working day, the Manager of the Testing Team will generate a collated report of the 200 test scripts that are executed daily.
  • Report generation
    • Develop the report with effective conclusion: Identify the improvement areas based on the interpretation and analyses of the defined metrics. For example, if the number of test cases executed are less than the goal of 200, you need to conduct a proper investigation to understand the causes, and then take the corrective actions – whether to reduce the number of tests to be executed, or rectify what was causing the fall in numbers.
    • Distribute report to the stakeholder and take feedback.

At Gallop, we cover all the bases and ensure that correct metrics are collected for executing the right set of tests. We ensure the best quality for your product and that your customers are happy. Our tool agnostic test automation frameworks ensure accelerated testing so that you get higher productivity and an enviable time to market.

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The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.

Testing Metrics – What Gets Measured, Gets Done!

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“What gets measured gets done. What gets measured and fed back gets done well. What gets rewarded gets repeated.”

The above stated pithy statement relates very well to the need and importance of testing metrics. When an organization is able to clearly and explicitly define the testing metrics it requires, and then is properly able to analyze them and use the analysis to fix the existing issues, it will invariably be treading on the right path towards success and growth.

In normal parlance, most organizations follow the well tread path of plan, do, check, act (- better known as PDCA) when beginning any new venture or project.

As per, “PDCA (plan-do-check-act, sometimes seen as plan-do-check-adjust) is a repetitive four-stage model for continuous improvement (CI) in business process management. The PDCA model is also known as the Deming circle/cycle/wheel, Shewhart cycle, control circle/cycle, or plan–do–study–act (PDSA).”

Plan: In terms of a product/software development/testing lifecycle, Planning refers to defining and laying out specific Business Goals and gaining a thorough understanding of the need for the planned application. At a later stage, this also includes testing the product, collecting statistical data, identifying and ascertaining the root causes of the issues being faced, and planning for fixing them.

Do: This is the stage where organizations define and decide upon the multiple measurement variables and metrics. These metrics will help understand the effectiveness of the product as also help measure the quality of the product. This stage also involves developing and implementing solutions for the identified issues.

Check: This stage is used to analyse the reasons as to why a product is behaving in the way it is, as also to compare the data before-and-after a fix has been made. This stage requires you to document the observations, inform the team about any changes to the process, and also recommend changes that need to be made.

Act: As the name implies, this stage involves taking Corrective Actions and fixing the product to come up with a quality product.

As seen above, one of the most important link between all the 4 activities – PDCA – is metrics and its measurement. The question to ask is – what should we measure, and when should we start measuring?

What sort of metrics need to be collected and analysed must be decided in the planning phase. A few metrics that matter – especially when testing a product for quality – are as follows:

  • User Story Coverage
  • Planned vs Done Story Cards
  • Test Automation Coverage
  • Automated Test Effectiveness
  • Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF)
  • Mean Time To Repair (MTTR)
  • Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
  • Defect Rejection Rate
  • Production Defect Leakage
  • Defect Severity Index
  • Defects by Sprint
  • Deployment Lead Time

Unless we specify what needs to be measured, we will never really be able to give due attention and focus to completing it to the best of our abilities. Measuring the correct variable, analysing it correctly, and then performing the required tests will lead to creation of better products and make them more reliable and robust.

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” ~ Albert Einstein

That said, what is even more important than measuring metrics is the follow up – what is the actual improvement we have made in the product based on our findings. Identify your top-most, business-critical priorities, analyse the metrics against them, and then make the fixes required.

Zooming in to the top-most priorities and then working against the related metrics will help an organization provide better quality products, reduced go-to-market time and hence improve their ROI.

Experts at Gallop can help you understand what needs to be measured and tested to get the optimum outputs. Get in touch with us for meeting all your testing requirements.

software testing, software testing life cycle, stlc, software development life cycle, testing process, software testing company, quality assurance testing, software testing phases, gallop solutions, web application testing, security testing, devops testing, agile testing

The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.