Metrics play a huge role in almost every sphere of life. Doctors measure our body temperature and blood pressure over time. Businesses measure readership and user behavior on their websites or apps to pull trends and reports. We measure and define success in personal and professional life by comparing our past results, and the same goes for the software development process. The goal of software testing metrics is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the testing process and help make better decisions for further testing. Although to some testers, metrics sound like a nightmare and are associated with additional paperwork (or just seen as a waste of time), having dynamic indicators will provide you with reliable data about the health of your product just as blood pressure does for your physical health.
Why Are Software Testing Metrics Important?
Based on our extensive quality assurance experience, we identified six reasons why you should start using metrics in software testing now:
- Transparency in communication. With QA metrics, your customers are regularly updated about the status of your project and can easily find information if needed. There’s no need to have long conversations about the efficiency of your project; everything is handy.
- Easy progress tracking throughout the workflow. Software testing metrics allow you to easily check where you were at a specific point and how much progress you’ve made over a given time period. You can also set goals for the future based on these statistics.
- Clear understanding of the effectiveness of process improvements. Why make improvements without tracking metrics when doing so means making decisions based on instinct rather than evidence? You may implement something new, but if you don’t track metrics, you may feel great about your decision even though it actually didn’t yield any results. Metrics will help you know for sure.
- Easy decision-making. It’s much easier to decide whether you need to assign more people to your project or change a scope when you’re tracking quality assurance metrics. If you’re measuring accurately, you will never have doubts about amending your staffing plans.
- Metrics shed light on problems. With metrics, you’ll immediately understand the root cause of an issue and what changes you need to make in order to fix it.
- Reduced uncertainty. Your team members will feel more confident in their actions and decisions, especially if metrics show positive results.
As you can see, software testing metrics are definitely useful. They provide us, our teams, and other stakeholders with a clear understanding of the state of each product and process. Still, even though metrics are handy, using more metrics and measurements in software testing doesn’t inherently lead to improving your product’s actual quality. Your goal should always be to have a well-rounded picture of your product at each stage of the software development cycle. That doesn’t mean just gathering every metric you can think of; it means choosing the right ones and measuring them accurately and consistently.
How to Select the Right Software Testing Metrics — and Measure Them the Right Way
To help your QA team select relevant metrics and eliminate unnecessary work, we’ve prepared this handy checklist:
1. Ask yourself the three most important questions:
-What are we measuring?
-How are we measuring it?
-Why are we measuring these metrics?
Don’t use quality assurance metrics that don’t bring any value and make sure you’re scrupulous in the metrics definition process.
Software Quality Assurance Metrics Example 1
We often see teams that use metrics like the number of bugs in the backlog on long-term projects. They say things like “see how few bugs we have!” In reality, these metrics only show us that we have a QA team that does their job — and this isn’t likely to be a groundbreaking revelation.
On the other hand, tracking the percentage of high/medium/low priority bugs would help to indicate the overall quality of the software that we’re building, which can help us make adjustments down the road.
2. Automate the process of calculating QA metrics as much as possible
By doing this, you will spend less time manually gathering metrics, and your metrics will always be up to date without any active effort on your part. For example, use jql if you have Jira, or other tools depending on what test management/task tracking system you use.
Software Quality Assurance Metrics Example 2
If you need data on critical bugs each sprint, set up a jql request on your confluence page, and it will be updated regularly.
3. Gather feedback and improve metrics over time
Don’t stop once you’ve gathered and set up all metrics. Listen to feedback and make your metrics and reports more efficient and informative. Show the metrics that you gather to your management and team, establish regular metrics brainstorming sessions, and evaluate the value of the metrics you use on a monthly/bi-weekly/weekly basis.
Types of Test Metrics in Software Testing
Lets move to the practical. What can you measure on your project? The immediate answer is everything, but let’s look more closely at the details:
- Product quality metrics: defect density, escaped bugs, enhancements tracking, bugs found per component, etc.
- Defect metrics: reported/fixed defects, time between failure, defects by root cause, source of defect, test release, priority/severity, rejected, duplicated, phase introduced and detected, trends from defect reporting to resolution, number of defect fixes that introduced new defects, etc.
- Test metrics: total tests planned, specified (implemented), run, passed, failed, blocked, and skipped; smoke, regression and confirmation test status, including trends and totals for regression test and confirmation test failures; hours of testing planned per day versus actual hours achieved; availability of the test environment, etc.
- Coverage metrics: risk coverage, code coverage, environment/configuration coverage, requirements and design elements coverage, etc.
- Risk-related metrics: % of risks completely covered by passing tests, % of risks for which some or all tests fail, % of risks covered, sorted by risk category, % of risks identified after the initial quality risk analysis, etc.
- Other QA metrics: number of changes required, accepted, built, and tested, planned/actual cost, planned/actual duration, planned/actual dates for testing milestones, planned/actual dates for test-related project milestones, etc.
How Can We Measure Software Testing Metrics?
We understand that the process of measuring metrics in software testing and estimating their effectiveness may seem a bit scary and vague. That’s why it’s best to follow clear instructions and recommendations. Here are a few steps to complete:
- Define your metrics based on specific objectives for the project, process, and product. Keep balance in mind — a single metric won’t give you the full picture of your software quality.
- Track metrics over time. Automate the collection process, keep data in a shared space such as wiki/confluence, and review results at regular intervals.
- Report metrics. Report to the customer and the team to show your progress. Improve your reports to make them easy to understand, more useful, and user-friendly.
- Check regularly for metric validity. Don’t track metrics that aren’t useful or that show incorrect data.
In software testing, metrics provide a way to assess the efficiency of a testing effort. Without tracking metrics and measurements in software, your team can’t get any feedback or insights. If metrics aren’t serving as your early warning system for issues, you’ll find problems later when fixing them requires more time and effort. That’s why it’s crucial to choose an effective testing strategy that will show gaps and provide you with a clear vision of what tools or solutions can be applied to remedy the situation.
Author: Karalina Panada