Creating Test Management Reports that Deliver Value to Non-Testers

Test management reports can offer valuable insights that extend far beyond the QA team—if they contain the correct information.

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Test management reports can offer valuable insights that extend far beyond the QA team. These reports bridge the divide between testers and non-testers as they provide a holistic view of the software testing process — benefiting everyone from test engineers to software developers, product owners, project managers, and essentially anyone involved in or impacted by the software development lifecycle.

Let’s learn how to create test management reports that are valuable to non-testers.

Define Clear Objectives

Start by defining clear objectives for what you’re trying to achieve when creating a test management report. These objectives will be different depending on your specific audience. Talk with your stakeholders to understand what their needs are so you can determine what the objectives of your report should be.

Examples of the objectives that different stakeholders may have include:

      • Project Managers are interested in tracking project progress, ensuring deadlines are met, and staying within the budget.
      • Product Owners focus on the product’s features and functionality. They want to ensure that the software meets customer requirements and user expectations.
      • Business Analysts aim to ensure that the software aligns with business goals, market needs, and regulatory requirements.
      • Developers want to understand the issues found in their code and ensure that their work integrates seamlessly with the rest of the system.
      • Executives and Stakeholders are concerned with the overall health of the project, its alignment with strategic goals, and potential risks that might impact the business.

Select the Right Metrics

Deciding which metrics to include and exclude from your report is one of the most important steps in this process. There are many options for what you can include, such as text execution status, defect tracking, test coverage, requirements traceability, and more. Be selective and try to only include metrics that are relevant to your audience.

Based on the example objectives outlined above, the following are examples of what metrics you may want to include depending on your audience:

      • Project Managers look for test execution status, defect trends, and test completion metrics to gauge whether testing is on track and if it aligns with the overall project schedule.
      • Product Owners may look for defect severity and priority, test coverage, and pass/fail rates to assess the overall quality and alignment of the product with customer needs.
      • Business Analysts may be interested in test results related to compliance, market-specific requirements, and business-critical features.
      • Developers look for detailed defect reports, stack traces, and information on how to reproduce issues for efficient debugging.
      • Executives and Stakeholders seek high-level summaries, key performance indicators (KPIs), and an assessment of whether the project is on track and within budget.

Use Visualization and Graphs

Testers need extremely detailed, actionable reports to support their workflows. Depending on the stakeholder, especially if they are less technical, your non-tester may prefer visual representations of data as they make it easier to quickly interpret and act upon the information. Create graphs, charts, and dashboards in your reports to present the metrics effectively.

For example, Pie Charts are great for a quick overview of the test execution status. Bar Charts show the distribution of defects by severity. Heat Maps visualize test coverage across different modules or features. Traceability Trees highlight how well requirements are met. Risk Heatmaps visualize the coverage of critical business risks.

Customize Reports, Providing Context and Insights

Depending on how close they are to the testing process, stakeholders will have different levels of understanding and familiarity with test management reports. To cater to these differences, create customized reports that provide specific insights relevant to each group. Raw data is often insufficient to deliver value to non-testers. Add context and insights to your reports to explain the significance of the numbers. For instance:

      • Explain the impact of failed tests on project timelines and quality.
      • Highlight trends in defect resolution and how they affect project stability.
      • Discuss the areas where testing is comprehensive and areas that require more attention.
      • Correlate test results with other business metrics, such as customer satisfaction or revenue.

Automate, Update, and Collaborate

To keep non-testers informed and engaged, automate the generation and distribution of test management reports. Regular updates, especially during critical project phases, ensure that stakeholders are continuously informed about the progress and quality of the project.

Finally, it’s important to promote a culture of feedback and collaboration. Encourage non-testers to provide input on the reports and ask for their suggestions on how to improve the information presented. This not only enhances the quality of the reports but also fosters a sense of shared ownership in the testing process.

Additional Tips

Other tips that have proved helpful when writing test management reports include using plain language while avoiding jargon, keeping the reports concise and to the point, using consistent formatting and terminology throughout the reports, providing a clear and concise summary of the key findings and recommendations, and making the reports easily accessible to all relevant stakeholders.

Conclusion

Test management reports are invaluable tools for delivering value to non-testers. By defining clear objectives, customizing your reports to your audience, automating updates, and fostering collaboration, you create reports that empower stakeholders with the insights they need to make informed decisions and ensure the success of software development processes.


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Maggie Bean is a Test Management Advocate who is spreading the word on the significance of effective test management practices. She has dedicated her expertise to launching new products, fine-tuning product positioning, and championing best practices in test management. She’s also a serial entrepreneur, podcast host, and cat mom.