Test case management
Best practices Management Agile
19 mins read
December 8, 2023

Test Case Management: everything you need to know

How often have you lost yourself in a labyrinth of test cases, struggling to find control over your software testing processes? In the fast-paced development world where you can't catch a breath, efficient test case management is the compass you need through the endless deserts of quality assurance. It ensures you reach your desired destination — robust, reliable software products ready to conquer the market.

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Martin Koch
Nurlan Suleymanov

But here’s the thing – test case management is no longer just an option; it’s a necessity. In today’s competitive landscape, where user expectations are soaring and time-to-market is critical, you can’t afford to overlook the power of effective test case management. 

In this article, we will unveil the secrets of successful test case management, providing you with the knowledge and insights you need to maximise your testing potential and escape the labyrinth of unorganised QA.

What is test case management?

Test case management is a systematic approach to organising, documenting, and tracking test cases and related activities during software testing. It involves planning, designing, executing, and tracking results to ensure a software product’s quality and functionality. 

Test case management is a framework that helps QA professionals, especially testers, effectively manage testing. Test management platforms offer a centralised repository to store and manage test cases, suites, data, and results. 

Test case management tools offer many features to streamline the process. These tools enable testers to create and organise test cases, assign priorities and dependencies, track progress, and generate reports while facilitating team collaboration.

Components of a test case

When creating test cases, you should include several essential components to ensure their effectiveness and comprehensiveness: 

  1. Test case ID: A unique identifier or number for easy tracking and reference. 
  2. Test case title: A concise and descriptive title summarising the test case objective or goal. 
  3. Test description: A detailed description of the tested functionality or features, outlining the inputs, actions, and expected outcomes. 
  4. Preconditions: All necessary requirements or conditions that must be met before test case execution, including data setup, system configurations, or specific application states. 
  5. Test steps: Clear instructions on executing the test case, including the specific actions and the expected results at each step.
  6. Test data: The input data you must use during the test case execution, including valid and invalid data sets to validate different scenarios.
  7. Expected results: The anticipated outcomes of the test case that need to be specific, measurable, and aligned with the test objective.
  8. Actual results: The actual outcome of the test case execution with the deviations or discrepancies from actual results.
  9. Pass/Fail status: A clear indication of whether the test case passed or failed.
  10. Test environment: The specific environment, including hardware, software, OS, or browsers.
  11. Test Priority/Severity: The priority of the test case based on its impact on the system, and severity refers to the degree of impact a bug would have on the system’s functionality.
  12. Test case author: The name of the person responsible for creating the case.

“Software is like entropy: It is difficult to grasp, weighs nothing, and obeys the Second Law of Thermodynamics; i.e., it always increases.”

Norman Augustine, CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation

How to write effective test cases?

Writing effective test cases ensures thorough testing coverage and efficient software QA. Here are some key guidelines for writing test cases: 

  • Understand the project requirements, user stories, and functional specifications to define the test cases’ scope and objectives. 
  • Keep test cases clear and concise by using simple language and avoiding ambiguity. Ensure everyone can understand the steps and expected results without confusion. 
  • Use a standardised template for test case documentation to maintain consistency and make the test cases easier to read, understand, and hand over. 
  • Test one functionality per test case and avoid combining multiple test scenarios into one case, which may lead to confusion. Test scenarios are a better option to validate an entire flow.
  • Define preconditions and test data for the test case, such as specific system configurations or data setups. 
  • Outline test steps sequentially and provide step-by-step instructions on executing the test case from the initial state with concise, specific, and easy-to-follow. 
  • Include expected results for each step to validate the system’s behaviour and easy comparison with actual results. 
  • Cover positive and negative scenarios to identify potential defects and ensure comprehensive test coverage. 
  • Prioritise test cases based on their criticality and impact on the system to manage testing efforts and address high-priority test cases first. 
  • Let peers review and validate the cases for accuracy, clarity, and coverage and compare them against the requirements to ensure they align with the expected behaviour. 
  • Keep test cases maintainable and easy to update as the system evolves, avoiding hard-coding values or dependencies irrelevant to the test.
  • Regularly update test cases as requirements change, defects are identified and fixed, or new features are added.

What is the role of test case management?

Test case management is crucial in software testing and quality assurance. Here are some key roles and benefits of effective test case management: 

  • Effective, centralised management: The test case management system consists of a centralised repository to manage test cases, allowing you to access and track them easily. 
  • Traceability: Test case management ensures comprehensive test coverage by systematically documenting and managing test cases. This way, test case tracking and the mapping between test cases and requirements to test all functionality become easier. Testing efforts are aligned with the project’s objective and meet scope, which can also be easily demonstrated during regulatory audits. 
  • Planning and prioritisation: Test case management tools enable you to prioritise test cases based on business priorities, risk assessments, and resource constraints, focusing on critical functionalities and high-risk areas.
  • Test execution and tracking: Test case management enables better execution and tracking by providing a platform to record test results, track progress, and monitor the statuses.
  • Collaboration and communication: Test case management tools promote better collaboration and communication in the team and create an environment for shared information, feedback, and discussions on test case-related issues. Questions and concerns do not get lost in chats.
  • Reporting and metrics: Using management tools allow you to generate relevant performance indicators like test execution reports or defect metrics, enabling you to make data-driven decisions and track the effectiveness of your efforts.
  • Test maintenance and reusability: Test case management facilitates test maintenance and reusability, as the cases can be easily updated, modified, or reused as the software evolves. This saves you a lot of time and resources.

Looking to enhance your QA test case management? Look no further than aqua’s testing strategy template. This comprehensive resource covers methodologies, tools, and modern approaches to ensure effective test management. From Agile and DevOps methodologies to industry-leading tools and modern practices like BDD and CI/CD, our template has everything you need for successful QA test management. You can learn about industry-leading tools that streamline test case creation, execution, and reporting, allowing you to track progress and identify areas for improvement.

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Test case management in different testing types

Test case management plays a vital role in various testing types, helping to streamline and optimise the testing process for different purposes and objectives. Let’s explore how test case management relates to different testing types: 

  1. Functional testing verifies that the software meets the functional requirements. Test case management helps to organise and execute the cases that validate individual software functions or features. It ensures comprehensive coverage by mapping test cases to specific features and tracking their execution and results. 
  2. Regression testing aims to validate that recent changes or updates have not negatively impacted the software functionalities. Test case management enables creating and maintaining a regression test suite that covers critical functionalities.
    The proper organisation ensures that previously executed test cases are re-executed efficiently, and their results are compared against the expected outcomes. You can identify and manage discrepancies during regression testing with test case management tools. 
  3. Performance Testing assesses the system’s behaviour under varying workloads and stress conditions, so creating test cases helps you simulate performance scenarios like load, stress, and endurance testing. You can define the performance objectives and metrics and organise test cases accordingly.
    Using test case management tools also helps you track performance test execution and results: you can analyse system performance, identify bottlenecks, and optimise the software for better scalability and responsiveness. 
  4. Security Testing ensures the software’s resilience against potential security threats. Creating and managing test cases that cover various security aspects, like authentication, authorisation, data protection, and secure communication, is crucial for effective security testing. Test case management tools facilitate the tracking of test execution and results, allowing you to document and report vulnerabilities efficiently. These tools provide a centralised platform to organise, prioritise, and track test cases, ensuring comprehensive security testing and thorough vulnerability management.
  5. User Acceptance Testing (UAT) involves testing the software from an end user’s perspective to validate its readiness for deployment. Test case management assists in creating UAT-specific test cases that align with the user’s requirements and expectations and enables effective communication and collaboration between testers and end-users. It ensures UAT test cases are executed, results are recorded, and necessary changes or enhancements are documented for the software’s final acceptance.

Test case management methodologies

There are two commonly used test case management approaches: 

  1. Spreadsheet-based test case management is a common method of using spreadsheets or similar tools to manage test cases. Testers typically use document-based templates or spreadsheets to organise and maintain test cases. They create test case templates in the document outlining the steps and expected results. This approach offers flexibility and ease of use but does not include advanced features like test execution tracking or seamless collaboration. It does not meet modern regulatory requirements most of the time, either.
  2. Test case management tools provide dedicated platforms or software solutions to streamline your efforts. These tools allow automated test case management and offer features such as test case creation, organisation, version control, execution tracking, defect management, and reporting. Test case management software provides a centralised repository for test cases, facilitates collaboration among team members, and offers robust reporting capabilities.
    You can also use such solutions for first-party test automation or seamless integration with third-party solutions. Examples of popular automation management tools include aqua, Zephyr, and qTest. 

There are different approaches to test case management, including the following:

  1. Agile test case management includes methodologies like Scrum or Kanban, focusing on iterative development and frequent software releases. It involves creating and managing test cases that align with user stories or features defined in the product backlog.
    In this methodology, you continuously refine and update test cases based on evolving requirements and integrate test execution within the sprint or iteration cycles. This approach emphasises flexibility, adaptability, and collaboration between developers, testers, and stakeholders. 
  2. Behaviour-driven development (BDD) is a collaborative approach that aligns business stakeholders, developers, and testers with defining and validating software behaviour. This way, you write test cases in an extra human-friendly format using a domain-specific language (DSL) like Gherkin. These test cases, known as “feature files”, outline desired behaviours and acceptance criteria. 
  3. Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) test case management ensures a robust and efficient testing process. Test cases are integrated into the CI/CD pipeline, and automated tests are executed as part of the build and deployment processes. The required effort includes maintaining a suite of automated tests, monitoring test execution results, and incorporating test failures or issues into the CI/CD feedback loop.
  4. Waterfall test case management: In a Waterfall approach, test case management follows a sequential process where you perform testing at the end of each development phase. Test cases are designed and executed based on the defined requirements and specifications. The emphasis is on comprehensive testing before moving to the next development phase.

Levels of testing and test case management

Here are how test case management aids in each level of testing: 

  1. Unit testing focuses on testing individual components or units of code in isolation, and test case management helps organise and document test cases specific to each unit. Developers increasingly create and execute unit tests, so making the process intuitive and efficient is important. 
  2. Integration testing verifies interactions and compatibility between software components or modules. Test case management aids in designing test cases to cover the integration points and test the integrated components’ behaviour. It ensures that the modules work seamlessly together and that data flows correctly between them.
  3. System testing validates the complete and integrated system against specified requirements, and test case management helps create comprehensive test cases to cover the system functionality, including user interfaces, workflows, and business processes. It ensures suitable system behaviour that meets the intended requirements.
  4. Acceptance testing involves validating the software from the end user’s perspective. Test case management helps design test cases that align with user acceptance criteria and scenarios, managing and tracking the acceptance test execution, capturing user feedback and ensuring the software is ready for deployment. A good test case management solution makes UAT accessible to non-tech people and offers a foundation for frequent UATs over just one session at the end of development.

Challenges in test case management

Here are some of the most common challenges you might face in test case management: 

  • Test case maintenance: Keeping test cases updated and synchronised can be time-consuming and demands continuous effort. To overcome this, you need to implement a robust change management process to ensure timely updates to test cases when requirements, functionality, or user scenarios are changed.
  • Test case reusability: Identifying and organising reusable test cases across projects or releases can be challenging. Keeping test cases easily adaptable and relevant to various contexts without causing false positives or negatives can be a struggle. To handle this, you need to establish a centralised repository or test case management tool that allows easy categorisation and tagging of test cases based on their reusability. Clearly documenting the context and prerequisites for each test case ensures adaptability while avoiding false positives or negatives.
  • Test case traceability: Achieving and maintaining near 100% test coverage requires good traceability to see what requirements have enough tests to them. However, it can be complex in large-scale projects with changing requirements and multiple stakeholders, requiring careful management and coordination. If not available in your test management software, you should develop a traceability solution that links test cases to the corresponding requirements and regularly reviews the results to ensure coverage and track any changes in requirements.
  • Test case version control: Managing different test case versions, especially in collaborative environments, poses challenges. Maintaining a clear version history, ensuring the latest versions, and avoiding conflicts can be demanding without proper version control mechanisms not found in spreadsheet-style management approaches. One solution might be using version control mechanisms provided by test case management tools. You should maintain a clear version history, ensure the latest versions are used, and establish guidelines for resolving conflicts in case of overlapping modifications.
  • Test case prioritisation: With limited time and resources, prioritising test cases becomes vital. Determining the priority of test cases based on risk assessment, business impact, or critical functionalities can be subjective and challenging, requiring careful analysis and decision-making. You must conduct a risk assessment to identify critical functionalities and high-risk areas to deal with them. Consider the impact on business goals and prioritise test cases accordingly.

Test case management challenges

Conclusion

Test case management is a critical aspect of the software testing process. While it presents challenges, addressing them with effective strategies and utilising the right tools can greatly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of test case management. Testers can ensure comprehensive testing coverage and deliver high-quality software by overcoming maintenance, reusability, traceability, version control, and prioritisation challenges. 

Looking to streamline your test case management process? Explore aqua cloud, an AI-driven, modern test case management solution. With the aqua testing tool, you can eliminate manual work, accelerate testing cycles, improve collaboration among team members, and simultaneously create test cases from scratch. Take your testing to new heights with aqua cloud and experience the benefits of super-fast and intelligent test case management.

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FAQ
What is a test case, and why is it important in software development?

A test case is a documented set of conditions, inputs, and expected results that determine the functionality of a specific aspect of the software. Test cases are crucial as they ensure the software meets the desired requirements, help detect defects and bugs, and validate the software’s functionality, reliability, and performance before its release.

How can effective test cases be created and organised in test case management?

Effective test cases can be created and organised by thoroughly analysing requirements, designing clear and concise test cases, categorising them based on functional areas, using version control mechanisms, and leveraging test case management tools for streamlined execution and reporting. All these steps ensure comprehensive coverage, easy maintenance, and efficient management of test cases.

How does test case management apply to different types of testing?

Test case management applies to different testing types by providing a structured approach to creating, organising, executing, and tracking test cases specific to each testing type. Whether it’s unit testing, integration testing, system testing, or acceptance testing, test case management ensures that relevant test cases are designed and executed to validate the software’s functionality, reliability, and performance. 

Test case management helps maintain traceability between test cases and requirements, manage different versions of test cases, prioritise test cases based on risk, and facilitate collaboration among testers and stakeholders.

What are the common challenges faced in test case management?

Common challenges faced in test case management include test case maintenance, ensuring test case reusability, managing test case traceability, handling test case version control, and prioritising test cases effectively.

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