Test Metrics that are Important for Useful Insight

Posted in: Quality assurance testing, Web and software development by: Simon Hill on:

If you want to get a clear picture of software quality, or find confirmation that a new tool has widened your test coverage, then it may be helpful for you to use test metrics. Only by measuring the right things can you: confirm that the software will meet requirements; identify key areas for testing focus; and find the best processes and tools. Overall, the best way to improve these processes is through test metrics.

Here are some of the tools that you can employ to gain useful insights about your current project and your team:

Requirements and defects.

An important component to look at while testing metrics is requirements coverage. First, check that the software meets the requirements that you originally laid out at the beginning of the project. If not, why not? How many test cases were designed for each requirement? Ensure that someone on your team is tracking what still is in need of design and execution.

In addition to requirements, you will want to track defects very closely. Don’t just look at overall defect numbers. Locate where the concentration of defects are and factor in the severity. If areas of the software consistently have a much higher defect rate, a deeper problem may exist. Therefore, encourage testers to log usability issues in their test metrics. Cross-reference metrics to be able to identify areas of the code which may need work.

Finally, make sure you track data via test metrics. Tracking data allows you to locate the percentage of work completed and, crucially, see what needs to be done. As a result, you can better understand the remaining time and resources required to complete the project. You can also identify potential delays early. Furthermore, you can send early warning flags about potentially problematic parts of the design.

Tracking your team.

You should drill down into the numbers and calculate defect discovery rates for individual testers. Be careful to assess them fairly. Defect rate in isolation is not a fair measure of effort. Some bits of code have fewer defects, and encouraging bug count can encourage testers to split bugs or enter duplicates to boost their numbers. Track these defect counts across multiple projects and compare teams to reveal useful insights.

Test metrics also come in handy when you are tasked with tracking defect fixes. Use tracking to see how many items were not identified as defects by the developers or merged with existing defects as duplicates. Always look at the efficiency of your test metrics. Compare the number of defects identified and dealt with during testing, as well as the number found by the end user.

In sum, always compare your estimates at the beginning of each project with your actual performance because your estimates should get closer with every project that passes.

Assess the tools and processes too.

Apply the same analysis to the tools and processes that you employ to ensure they’re delivering value. Did that new management software really save you time? Did defect recording help to fix defects faster? Is your new workflow getting better results? Measure everything and filter data in different ways to extract useful insights that will help you improve the way you test.

In conclusion, it’s important to continue to question and look for ways to improve, and test metrics can give you the evidence you need to argue for relevant changes.


Simon Hill

Simon is an experienced freelance technology journalist covering mobile technology, software, and videogames for a wide variety of clients in print and online. He regularly contributes to Digital Trends, Tech Radar, and Android Authority, and he ghostwrites for CEOs in the technology space. After completing a Masters in Scottish History at Edinburgh University, he began his career as a games tester, progressing to lead tester, game designer, and finally producer, before leaving the industry to write full time. He is passionate about the potential for good software and hardware to improve our lives, and strongly believes that thorough testing is a vital prerequisite for greatness.