Test documentation tips
Best practices Management Agile
14 mins read
September 27, 2023

Master test documentation: 7 expert tips for error-free testing

Picture this: you and your team have worked tirelessly on a software project for a few months. You've run many tests, identified a lot of bugs, and made endless improvements to the code. However, during the QA audit, you received feedback that revealed a critical mistake in your testing approach: the documentation was incomplete, confusing, and in some places, even incorrect. What went wrong?

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Nurlan Suleymanov
Robert Weingartz

Before you start to panic and think that all your team’s efforts have been for nothing, stop there for a moment. Do not worry. By implementing effective documentation strategies, you can regain control of your testing process and ensure that nothing slips through the cracks. In this article, we will explore seven tips for enhancing your test documentation, enabling your team to succeed and overcoming this setback. So, let’s dive in and revolutionise your testing practices!

What is test documentation?

Test documentation is creating and maintaining documents that record the planning, design, execution, and results of software testing. To ensure that testing is complete and thorough, the documentation typically includes test plans, cases, scripts, and reports. It serves as a roadmap for software testing and provides a clear outline of the process. Accurate test documentation reduces errors, improves communication, and ensures your testing efforts are well-crafted and repeatable. Let’s dive into how you can create effective test documentation in software testing with seven simple, actionable tips.

"Incorrect documentation is often worse than no documentation"

Bertrand Meyer, Professor of software engineering

#1. Define your objectives

When you want to go on a vacation, you usually have a destination in mind, right? Well, the same principle applies to software testing. While exploratory testing can be a great way to uncover new issues and improve your testing process, it’s important not to forget the importance of well-documented testing procedures. Think about it — how are your current and future colleagues supposed to join you on the testing journey if they don’t know where you’re going? By developing and maintaining clear testing documentation, you can ensure that your team is aligned, your processes are well-documented, and your software is of high quality. 

Our first test documentation tip: define clear objectives. This will set your team up to work toward a certain, realistic goal and will keep you focused. Here are some tips on how to do it: 

  • Identify the purpose of your testing: Will you test for usability, security, functionality, or something else?
  • Determine the scope: What test types will you be conducting? What areas will you cover?
  • Establish a clear goal for each test: What are your expectations and hopes with each test?
  • Use metrics to track progress: How will you measure success?

#2. Use a consistent format

To read a document that is poorly formatted and difficult to follow is a frustrating and time-consuming process. That is why it is crucial to maintain consistency when you create test documentation. Below are some steps you can implement to use a consistent format in your documents: 

  • Choose a standardised format for your document and keep it consistent across all your documents. 
  • Label and organise each section of your documents so it is easy to navigate and find the needed information.
  • Use a consistent naming convention for your documents, which makes it easy to identify and keep track of them over time. 
  • Use stable terminology so everyone on your team uses the same language and understands the concepts. 
  • Insert tables, headings, and lists into your documentation to ensure it is easy to read and skim. 

In-depth testing requires a comprehensive strategy covering every aspect of your efforts. Here comes aqua’s testing strategy template, a powerful resource designed to shed light on your testing journey. By leveraging this template, you can define clear objectives, outline test approaches, establish priorities, and identify key milestones. This comprehensive and customisable template is a roadmap to guide your testing process and ensure efficient and effective execution.

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testing strategy template

Revamp your testing strategy with aqua’s customisable template

#3. Keep it concise

Our next test documentation advice: keep it clear and direct. You should avoid including excessive information that can distract or confuse your team. Here are some tips to keep your documentation concise: 

  • Use simple, clear language: Ensure that your documentation is written in a way that is easily understandable by avoiding excessive jargon or complex terminology where possible to lower the barrier of entry for new specialists.
  • Focus on the most important information: Include test objectives, scope, requirements, test cases and test data, and milestones to ensure you cover the most critical aspects of testing.
  • Use short sentences and bullet points: Break down complex information into concise and digestible chunks for better comprehension.
  • Highlight key information: Use formatting techniques such as bolding, italicising, or colour coding to emphasise critical information to draw attention to crucial details,
  • Avoid repetition or duplication: Review your documentation carefully to ensure that you don’t repeat the same information unnecessarily.
  • Have someone else review your documentation: Seek feedback from a fresh set of eyes by having an experienced team member review your documentation. This person should be able to provide valuable insights and point out areas that may require further clarification or improvement.

#4. Review and update regularly

To ensure your test documentation remains accurate and effective, you should regularly review and update it. This will help you identify any changes, adjust your test plans accordingly, and keep your team updated. 

Make sure to schedule regular reviews and updates and involve your team in the process to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Consider these steps to keep your test documentation up-to-date: 

  1. Frequency of reviews: Determine the appropriate frequency for reviewing the test documentation. For longer projects, it is better to schedule reviews on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. For shorter ones, weekly or bi-weekly reviews may be necessary. 
  2. Involvement of team members: Engage relevant team members in the review process to have various perspectives and expertise. This may include testers, developers, business analysts, and other stakeholders that can tell how comprehensive and/or digestible the documentation is. 
  3. Review focus areas: Pay attention to specific areas, like test cases, test data, requirements, or any other critical documentation sections. Prioritise areas with recent changes or a higher frequency of updates to ensure accuracy and effectiveness. 
  4. Documentation updates: Encourage team members to actively contribute to the documentation updates by providing feedback, suggesting improvements, and pointing out any gaps or inconsistencies.
  5. Documentation version control: Implement a version control system or mechanism to track and manage the changes made to the documentation. Keep a record of revisions, track the evolution of the documentation, and revert to previous versions if needed.

#5. Collaborate

Collaboration is key to creating effective test documentation that keeps you on the same page. Here are some steps to help you collaborate effectively with your team: 

  • Encourage open communication and feedback to ensure everyone’s input is considered and introduced when valid. 
  • Assign clear roles and responsibilities to each team member to ensure everyone knows what is expected of them. 
  • Use collaborative tools to allow team members to collaborate on the documentation in real time. 
  • Set up regular meetings or check-ins to discuss the status and address concerns related to the documentation.
  • Encourage team members to share their expertise and insights to improve the quality and effectiveness of the test documentation.

#6. Use automation tools

Automation tools can provide many benefits for the testing process as a whole. These tools can help with test coverage analysis, automatically generate reports, and make tracking defects and their resolution easier.

By using test automation tools like aqua, you can increase the efficiency of your testing process and improve the accuracy and quality of your test documentation. Here is how the features of these tools might help with the documentation process: 

 

  1. Centralised test repository: aqua provides a centralised repository to store all your test artefacts, including test cases, test data, and test results. This centralised repository ensures that your test documentation is organised and easily accessible to all team members, facilitating collaboration and promoting consistency.
  2. Test case management: aqua’s test case management capabilities enable you to define and manage test cases in a structured manner. You can document detailed steps and expected results based on requirements within aqua, using the power of AI to ensure that your test cases are comprehensive, clear, and aligned with the project’s objectives.
  3. Traceability: aqua allows you to establish traceability links between requirements, test cases, test scenarios and defects. The “dependencies” feature enables you to track the relationships between these elements, ensuring that your test documentation is well-aligned with the project’s requirements and objectives.
    Additionally, aqua’s integration with Jira enables seamless synchronisation of items between aqua and Jira, enhancing traceability and collaboration. With the Jira sync feature, you can effortlessly manage and update your test documentation, requirements, test cases, and defects, ensuring real-time alignment between aqua and Jira. Furthermore, the aqua4Jira plugin provides valuable insights by showcasing test coverage directly within Jira, allowing stakeholders to easily track and assess the status of test documentation in relation to project requirements and objectives.
  4. Reporting and metrics: aqua offers reporting capabilities that allow you to generate comprehensive reports automatically. These reports provide insights into test coverage, execution status, defect trends, and other essential metrics. Leveraging these reports, you can analyse the testing progress, identify areas that require attention, and provide stakeholders with up-to-date and accurate documentation of testing activities.
    The advanced reporting functionality empowers you to create custom reports tailored to your specific needs. With aqua, you can generate highly customisable reports that provide in-depth insights into the testing process. Whether it’s analysing test coverage, tracking execution status, identifying defect trends, or evaluating other crucial metrics, the advanced reporting functionality allows you to present the data in a suitable format and, ultimately, enhance the effectiveness of your test documentation by providing detailed and personalised reports.

#7. Include visuals

You can massively improve test documentation with screenshots and videos because they provide visual evidence of the testing process and results. You can easily illustrate expected results, actual results, and individual test runs. 

In addition, media can be particularly useful for demonstrating errors or unexpected results. By providing visual evidence of these issues, you can help your team quickly identify and resolve problems. Especially when combined with clear and concise written descriptions, screenshots and videos can be an effective tool for improving the clarity and effectiveness of your test documentation.

Videos can also be valuable for enhancing test documentation. With them, you can capture the testing process in motion, allowing for a more comprehensive and detailed representation of the steps performed and the expected and actual results. Videos can provide a visual walkthrough of complex test scenarios, showcasing the flow of interactions and system behaviour. Incorporating videos into your test documentation will help you further improve clarity and effectiveness, providing a richer and more engaging experience for your team members.

7 tips for effective test documentation

Conclusion

Effective test documentation is crucial: it can mean the difference between a successful or failed software product. By implementing the strategies mentioned above, including clear and concise documentation, utilising test automation, and incorporating visuals, you can streamline the testing process and save valuable time.

Clear and concise documentation amplified by visual aids will serve as a guide for your team in the future, ensuring that you can quickly come back to the documented issues, learn from your mistakes, and never repeat them again. 

Using consistent documentation practices can be challenging, especially when working on multiple projects with different teams. That’s where aqua cloud comes in. Its cloud-based platform offers a centralised location for all your testing documentation needs, with customisable templates and tools to help you create consistent and effective documents. Its integration with Jira will allow you to track and assess the test documentation status easily. Version control alongside real-time collaboration ensures that you work on something together, not work over each other with this QA testing tool.

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FAQ
How do you write a test document?

Here are some general steps to write a test document:

  1. Define the purpose 
  2. Identify requirements
  3. Create and organise test cases
  4. Document the test data
  5. Define the test environment
  6. Plan for execution
  7. Document the results
  8. Review and refine
What are the types of test documents?

Here are the types of test documents: 

  1. Test plan
  2. Test case
  3. Test script
  4. Bug report
  5. Test log
  6. Traceability matrix
  7. Test summary
What does test documentation contain?

Test documentation typically includes documents such as a test plan, test cases, test scripts, test results, and other related materials that provide information about the testing process and results.

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