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Next Steps

The first step to getting better at test reporting is to practice both written and spoken test reporting. A very easy way to do this is to partner with someone you work with (ideally several people) and at random points throughout the day ask for a quick one-minute or five-minute status report. (You’ll be amazed how big a difference four minutes makes.) Also, write up a status report at the end of each day and send it to your team members for review and feedback. Can they understand what you did and didn’t do? Do they know why you did it? Can they tell what techniques you used? You can also use a tool such as Spector Pro to record your test sessions so you can replay them and compare against your notes.

You may find it helpful to ask others to report their status to you. What types of questions do you find yourself asking? Take note of those questions and make sure that you’re providing the same information when you report your status. What information do they provide that you really find useful? Use this information to develop a better model that fits your context. My model works for me, but yours might need to be different. Develop a model of your own. Once you have a model, share it with others, get feedback, and use it.

Armed with your new test reporting skills, you’re ready to take on managers everywhere. Focus on reporting your mission (what you’re trying to accomplish), coverage (what you’re looking for), risk (why you’re looking for it), techniques (how you’re looking for it), environment (where you’re looking for it), status (what you’ve found so far), and obstacles (what you could test if you have more resources). Either written or spoken, test reports that cover all of these dimensions have the makings of a good test report.

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