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Considering the Use of a Test Tool on a Particular Project

Once the test engineer has reviewed the test process and has defined test goals, objectives, and strategies, he or she can decide whether to continue the consideration of using an automated test tool. Specifically, the test engineer seeks to verify that the previously identified automated test tools will actually work in the environment and effectively meet the system requirements.

Review the System Requirements

The first step in test tool consideration is to review the system requirements. The test team needs to verify that the automated test tool can support the user environment, computing platform, and product features. If a prototype or part of the system under test already exists, the test team should ask for an overview of the system to make an initial determination of the specific sections of the application that can be supported with automated testing.

Review the Project Schedule

Next, the test schedule needs to be reviewed. Is there sufficient time left in the schedule or allocated within the schedule to support the introduction of the test tool? Remember that automated testing should ideally be incorporated at the beginning of the development lifecycle. The project schedule may need to be adjusted to include enough time to introduce an automated testing tool.

Manage Expectations

During test tool consideration, the automated test tool should be demonstrated to the new project team, enabling all pertinent individuals to gain an understanding of the tool's capability. Project team personnel in this case should include application developers, test engineers, quality assurance specialists, and configuration-management specialists. Remember that software professionals on the project may have a preconceived notion of the capabilities of the test tool, which may not match the tool's actual application on the project.

Check Test Tool Compatibility

If part of the application exists at the time of test tool consideration, conduct a test tool compatibility check. Install the test tool in conjunction with the application and determine whether the two are compatible. One special concern is the availability of memory to support both the application and the automated test tool. Another concern is the compatibility of third-party controls (widgets) used in the application. Once a compatibility check has been performed and a few problems arise, the test team will need to investigate whether workaround solutions are possible.

Define Roles and Responsibilities

The use of automated test tools with a particular application requires the services of a test team that has the appropriate blend of skills to support the entire scope of the test effort. Roles and responsibilities need to be clearly defined and the skills and skill levels of test team personnel need to be considered carefully.

Determine Technical Expertise

Another element of test tool consideration relates to the need to determine whether the test team has sufficient technical expertise to take advantage of the tool's capabilities. If this technical expertise is not resident within the test team, individuals who can mentor the test team on the advanced features of the test tool might be applied to the project on a short-term basis. Another possibility is test tool training for all test team personnel.

Final Analysis

After completing the test tool consideration phase, the test team can perform the final analysis necessary to support a decision of whether to commit to the use of an automated test tool for a given project effort.

Once the test team has concluded that the test tool is appropriate for the current project, it continues with the ATLM by performing test planning, test analysis and design, and test development. The outcomes of activities performed in this discussion need to be recorded as part of the test-planning activities that are documented within the test plan.

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