Test metrics are an integral part of the QA process. They provide granular information that helps engineers accurately assess the quality of software builds and figure out what is and isn’t working in the testing process. Metrics are the building blocks of progress and improvement in software creation.
Examples of test metrics and what they can contribute to a project
Moreover, metrics provide insight into the project’s status in relation to predefined goals. They can be used to inform decisions about the direction to take in development and testing. Some possible metrics and schedules for a project may include:
- Defect cause distribution: Charts can be filled with data on what was responsible for various defects affecting stability, compatibility, performance and other attributes.
- Traceability matrix: This arrangement ensures the coordination of requirements and features. It makes test coverage assessment much easier.
- Test case effectiveness: Stepping back, this metric takes stock of whether test cases are actually finding defects. It may provide a ratio of test cases that resulted in logged defects to total number of test cases.
- Defect discovery rate: This metric chronicles the rate at which defects were found. It may be compiled on a daily and/or weekly basis.
- Changes to test scope: Testing routines and requirements aren’t static and may change frequently throughout a project. Test scope metrics keep track of how often scope was changed, comparing altered tests and procedures to the total number of items in the regimen.
Overall, these different metrics enable correlation of cause and effect, analysis of data points and planning for the rest of the application’s lifecycle. QA teams can use metrics as a framework for making sense of the vast amounts of results that they comb through each day. In turn, evaluating the project’s progress against given metrics can determine whether it goes to market or is retained for additional refinement and screening.
Test metrics and testing automation
QA management systems have evolved to the point that many test scenarios can now be recycled and automated. Accordingly, it is increasingly feasible for enterprises to test applications at scale without requiring too much human interaction.
Metrics have an important role to play in automated testing. More specifically, they can keep projects on course by tracking test coverage, costs and defect rates, similar to how they work with mostly manual test regimens.
“As time proceeds, software projects become more complex because of increased lines of code as a result of added features, bug fixes, etc,” explained Thom Garrett of Innovative Defense Technologies in a Methods & Tools post. “Also, tasks must be done in less time and with fewer people. Complexity over time has a tendency to decrease the test coverage and ultimately affect the quality of the product. Other factors involved over time are the overall cost of the product and the time in which to deliver the software. Carefully defined metrics can provide insight into the status of automated testing efforts.”
Sanjay Zalavadia brings more than 15 years of leadership experience in IT and technical support services in his role as VP of client services at Zephyr.