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How test summary reports yield business value and benefits

The data a test summary report compiles can provide great benefits to a development team -- and, in turn, business value to the larger IT organization.

High-quality applications perform better and help retain customers. Likewise, being transparent with risk and release information increases trust toward an IT organization. These are among the numerous benefits that test summary reports can help provide.

QA teams that produce test summary reports will find the documents useful for the following:

  • create analyzable and actionable data;
  • improve software quality;
  • increase development process efficiency;
  • determine the effects of changes to development processes;
  • track defects between release builds;
  • reduce risk; and
  • provide a historical data trail.

Test summary reports require time and effort, but they can increase the business value of software testing and boost customer loyalty.

Better track and improve software quality

A test summary report typically contains information on where, how and when QA professionals execute tests on a specific release build. Additionally, the report includes passed or failed results for new and existing test cases. The document reports new defects, as well as where or in what functional area of the application the bugs occurred.

The benefit and business value of the report reside in this data. By tracking test summary report results over time, a team can determine if software quality is staying consistent in each functional area -- or if there are areas of the application that are increasingly fragile.

Application quality won't improve on its own; it needs to be measured. It's critical for a successful software application to improve rather than decline over time. Customer loyalty and trust are gained from improved quality, not from sustaining a consistent level of defects or an ongoing quality decline.

Improve brand recognition and trust

Creating test summary reports -- and then being transparent about the collected data -- can build brand value and customer trust. Existing customers or perhaps even new clients can view the reports for a time period to gain an understanding of the application's development process. The test summary report gives customers an overall view of what quality standards a team uses and the effectiveness of its testing. One could also further analyze the data through charts and other visual analysis.

When an IT organization shares test summary reports with customers, those users get a better feel for where defects may exist and which areas of the application tend to generate defects. It may not be comfortable to acknowledge that defects exist, but they do and always will. What's important is how an organization responds to the defects. Does it act quickly and sufficiently to fix them? Do those fixes prevent recurrence? Ideally, a test summary report demonstrates to customers that a QA/test team excels at such tasks.

Additionally, valuable data on the effectiveness of the test coverage is important. Customers may spot gaps and choose to fill those gaps with their own user acceptance testing.

Transparency builds trust. Growing the business brand by building a loyal, trusting customer base means sharing meaningful and useful data with customers. The test summary report provides valid, factual and useful data.

Better risk management

The data in test summary reports is also useful for fact-based risk management. Risk factors determine the course of application development from the beginning to the end of the application's life. Managing risk is an inherent part of application software development. Consider using each test summary report's data for generating risk management ideas.

The QA team can use the same report data to analyze test coverage as it applies to risk identification and management. Tests in certain areas may need added depth to provide the test coverage to reduce defect risk. For example, let's say an organization conducts automated daily tests of an application's API connections. The business is comfortable that the API connections are reliable. However, during test execution, you discover defects where the API fails to respond. Without the API to provide data and transfer information, the application fails to function.

A common question is: What happened between the automated test run and the additional test execution that found the defect? Reading through test summary reports may provide insight into the relevant timing or test coverage issue with the API.

Perhaps the team needs to add more depth to the automated test. For example, expand the test from just confirming the connection is active to also verifying a valid data transfer occurs. Or schedule the automated test to run hourly for a period of time to determine if the defect occurs at specific loads or points in time. This issue could be that a specific application function is timing out under load or that the application malfunctions in a specific scenario. Data from the defects reported in the test summary report can track down the problem. Once a team resolves the trouble, it has successfully reduced risk of the API failing.

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