Testing plays a critical role in ensuring the successful completion of a change project. The main concerns facing testers include the late planning of a testing process during the project cycle and the inadequate resource allocation based on a rough estimation by the Test Manager. These two issues can jeopardise the quality of testing and lead to poor project management.
Brickendon have identified clear success factors in test projects:
- Accurate resource estimation and allocation;
- Transparent resource and performance management;
- Technical competency of the test team;
- Level of test quality required.
We consider there are two key aspects to these success factors:
Effectiveness and Efficiency
Current Test Practices
Test Managers often face major challenges in devising a test estimation proposal, such as accurately estimating the resources required at each stage and being able to manage the team’s performance with consistency. Testing procedures are typically developed by Test Managers on a project-by-project basis as there is no standardised method currently available in the industry. While each project is unique and the objectives and expectations differ greatly, the problems observed in test project management share certain characteristics.
Common Problems in Testing and the Consequences
- Lack of standardisation causing inadequate scoping and poor performance
- Inaccurate resource estimation resulting in budget and/or time overrun and/or compromise on scope
- Ineffective performance management creating unclear communication and accountability
- Passive stakeholder engagement causing a failure to swiftly accommodate any change in scope
The Brickendon Solution
Time Check Point System (TCPS) is an innovative test estimation model, established to estimate and allocate resources accurately in a test project. The solution systematically prioritises and categorises relevant test tasks as identified in the DESIGN phase. Requirements are analysed in a testing perspective with each task then scored in a matrix based on importance and complexity, allowing the Test Manager to categorise tasks into different priority bands.
How the resource allocation mechanism works
The required resources for each test task are estimated based on the Test Team’s capability matrix, built using a sampling method. In the EXECUTE phase, the test team carries out test tasks and records performance in each priority band. Any issues identified are recorded for future reference. As the model provides a transparent performance-recording mechanism, Test Managers are able to manage the test project more efficiently to achieve key delivery milestones. By the time the test project reaches the EVALUATE phase, the TCPS contains information on all tasks performed during the project as well as a log of issues and solutions. This provides a reference point that clients can utilise during and after project completion.
Three Key Phases identified in a Typical Testing Project:
- Understand the objective, define the scope of testing and identify the procedures required
- Estimate required resource, plan testing and allocate accordingly
- Execute test procedures and monitor progress
- Monitor and manage resource (time, human capital and budget) making essential changes
- Evaluate the testing outcome
- Analyse strengths and weaknesses identified in the testing project
Through implementing the TCPS approach in the DESIGN phase the Test Team will be equipped to deliver a quality testing outcome in the EXECUTE stage. This will then result in the successful sign-off of the test project at the EVALUATE stage. The model outlines aspects vital to efficient test project management with clarity. In turn, this facilitates more effective communication between project teams.
Introduces a systematic and evidence-based resource estimation mechanism and provides a framework for standardisation. TCPS significantly improves accuracy in resource allocation and enhances transparency in performance management, which directly benefits clients.
Brickendon’s clients have experienced considerably more efficient and effective test project management since implementing TCPS.
Benefits to a client organisation include:
- Increased consistency in test project management;
- Enhanced transparency in test project management;
- Evidence-based performance management;
- Improved accountability of the testing team;
- Improved communication, allowing for more proactive stakeholder engagement.