How essential is Documentation in Software Testing?
A good observation is that projects that have all the documents in place have a high level of maturity as compared to the un-documented project. This is a trend in today’s testing process. Yet there are a few companies that pay little or no attention to documentation and are only attentive towards the software development process.
Documentation for an organization saves time, cost and makes testing easy and systematic. It is equally important for the client’s acceptance because documentation defines a software product’s effectiveness. If the documentation is poor, deficient, or defective, it may effect the quality of software or application. QA practices should be documented such that they are repeatable, and are not dependent on any individuals.
Often in start-up companies, projects are rejected in the initial proposal or acceptance phase. This usually happens at the initial stages due to a lack of documentation because the proposal lacks to impress the client without an expressive language and hence organization fails to establish. It shows the inability of their potential on a particular project. Proper documentation is the only key thing that makes it possible and makes testing more accurate in an organization. The documentation of a product is also one of the reasons for the success of the product.
The question that boggles a tester’s mind is what should be documented and what can be omitted. We should mark it as a rule that each and every step, no matter how insignificant it might be, should be written off in a very comprehensive manner. During manual software testing, documentation will include specifications, test designs, test plan, prevalent business rules, reports, configurations details, changes in code, test cases, bug reports, user manuals, etc. As a part of documentation, there needs to be a system for easily finding and obtaining documents and determining what documentation will have a particular piece of information.
Once the details are documented, they should be placed at a common databank where easy search and timely availability of the records is feasible. These documents come handy in times of any dispute or comparing the requirement specification with the delivered product.
Listed below are a few essential software testing documents that need to be used and maintained on a day to day basis:
- Test design document
- Test case specification
- Test Strategy
- Test summary reports
- Document of Weekly Status Report
- User Documents
- Document of User Acceptance Report
- Report of Risk Assessment
- Test Log document
- Test plan document
- Bug reports document
- Test data document
- Test analysis
There should be standard templates for all the kinds of documentation starting from Test strategy, test Plan, Test cases, and Test data to Bug report. It is imperative for the testers to synchronize the quality process with documentation standards and other process in an organization. The simplest thing to follow all kind of documentation is to involve a person in project from kick off phase who understands the project dynamics, domain, objective, and technology. Documentation is also very effective when automated testing or software performance testing is planned to be executed.
Documentation adds to organization’s long term goals and few key benefits are listed below:
- No Ambiguity – After implementing documentation, the confusion in any project is removed. Also, the disputes arising from ‘who is supposed to do what’ is eliminated as the documentation can provide the tasks allotted and other relevant details.
- Good training material – It is very obvious that Documentation serves as a key tool for new recruits which can help them move up their learning curve. This education can prove to be very significant in shaping the new hires to implement the process in a much efficient way rather than using tactics to learn the same.
- Good marketing – Documentation can be used as a good marketing tool and sales strategy to demonstrate the inclination towards maintaining a good process while delivering high quality.
Documentation in software testing plays an important role in Project development/testing phase. So be on the go to keep documenting things whenever you can. Avoid just verbal communication as it cannot always be a safe option. Documentation helps organizations in the long run saving cost on training and more importantly on fixing issues caused due to lack of development and testing documents. Make it a habit to pen things down as you keep testing the projects. This will essentially bring a systematic approach in your testing process, leaving the ad hoc testing behind.