Test Planning & Management

Software Testing metrics | Measuring Efficiency & Effectiveness

How do you measure your car’s performance? Or how do you know that it needs a service? Yeah! We have different criteria to measure its health – the mileage, kilometers run, engine & brake oil, etc. For example your car needs a service if its weekly mileage is less than the ideal mileage recommended by the manufacturer. Right? Similarly for any process to be successful in the long run we need some measurements (or metrics). In this article we will learn about Software Testing metrics and how it helps to keep track of Software Test efforts.

What is Software Testing Metrics?

As per Wikipedia,

“A Metric is a quantitative measure of the degree to which a system, system component, or process possesses a given attribute. The goal is obtaining objective, reproducible and quantifiable measurements, which may have numerous valuable applications in schedule and budget planning, cost estimation, quality assurance testing, software debugging and performance optimization.”

Software Testing Metrics

Software testers face a great deal of pressure to get their products released under budget and on time. In recent years, businesses have raised their expectations, cutting back financial resources while demanding ever shorter production cycles. That means testers need to take every opportunity to effectively manage the quality of the product or risk releasing flawed software. If testers do not take more strident steps to improve quality management, and managers do not bother to keep track of software quality at various stages in the software cycle, they may become the poster child for sloppy software testing practices.

To prevent such embarrassing releases, Software Testing Metrics helps estimating the progress, quality and health of the software testing effort in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness. For example weekly test case execution productivity can be one of the Test metric to track. These metrics can provide a great deal of insight into the quality of in-development products as well as the effectiveness of current test methods. It helps to ensure that team is able to identify issues, analyze progress and take corrective action before it is too late.

Why do we need Software Testing Metrics?

We cannot improve what we cannot measure

Software Testing Metrics, an integral part of the QA process, helps us to do exactly the same. Metrics provide insight into the project’s status in relation to predefined goals. It is important to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of the Test processes. Without metrics, how would you know that everything is right OR something needs your attention!

Tracking of testing efforts is by no means an easy endeavor, but it is absolutely critical to accurately gauge the current state of QA’s health and success. Reliable data is needed to ascertain the quality of current processes and whether changes need to be made to improve operations. Implementing the right software testing metrics can help an organization remove inefficiencies and position itself for success.

Software Testing Metrics are used to,

  • A metric-driven Software testing and release would provide credibility of Software engineering process to both internal and external stakeholders.
  • Metrics are decision points that lead you to take action. The metrics you choose determine how effective those actions are in improving your quality level.
  • Helps in decision-making for next phase of activities, process or technology change.
  • Improve the product quality and service productivity thus achieving customer satisfaction.
  • Easy for management to digest one number and drill down, if required.
  • Different Metric(s) trends act as monitor when the process is going out-of-control.
  • Evidence of the claim or prediction.
  • Help us judge how efficient the testing efforts are and how productive the test team is.
  • Help us make more proactive and informed decisions to complete software testing better and faster.

Based on the metrics Test manager can raise an alarm in case the project is behind schedule or with too many outstanding defects, etc. to avoid any last minute surprises.

Types of Software Testing Metrics

It is imperative to understand the different types of metrics,

Manual Software Testing Metrics

  • Base Metrics: Base metrics is the raw data collected by Test Analyst. This data will be tracked throughout the Test Life cycle. Example: #Test cases designed, #Test cases executed, #Defects raised
  • Calculated Metrics: Calculated metrics are derived from the raw data gathered in Base metrics, to infer any meaningful information. Calculated metrics are usually tracked by the Test Lead or Manager for reporting purpose. Example: Percent Completion, Test Coverage, Test execution productivity, etc.

At the core, software testing metrics can be separated into three basic tiers based on what they are reporting on and where their impact is most felt: process, product and project.

  • Process Metrics: Used to improve the process efficiency
  • Product Metrics: Deals with the quality of the software product
  • Project Metrics: Used to measure the efficiency of a project team or any tools being used by the team members

Levels of Software Testing Metrics

Test Management tool

Many times QA team members do not have the tools in place to conveniently share these metrics with one another, or are unable to access them when needed. A comprehensive Test management system can provide all interested parties with direct access to a wide range of useful metrics. Testers can share information with one another regarding the team’s day-to-day operations and long-term goals. QA managers can evaluate their department’s success on a team-wide or individual level.

Improved Software Testing with the Right Metrics

Based on the project or business model some of the areas where Software testing metrics are applied are Schedule, Coverage, Planned & actual cost, Workload & resource usage, Productivity, Product risk & project risk, Defects, etc. Testing team must tap into the value provided by this abundance of data. Metrics must not only be collectible and accurate, they must be meaningful, with actions taken upon their analysis that align with business objectives.

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