Are You Choosing the Right Testing Tools?
A tester’s productivity and efficiency increasingly is being driven by the set of smart tools used over the course of the testing effort. A decade ago the tool choices were limited to a few commercial solutions. Gradually, as open source tools came into the picture, the question of whether to use commercial or open source testing tools became prominent.
This is not an easy question to answer, and the debate continues to this day. Commercial players and open source software makers are increasingly strengthening offerings and addressing weak areas to make it a very competitive marketplace. For instance, commercial players are usually looking to offer the most affordable price packages, while open source players are bringing in more professional experiences in the tool’s reporting capabilities, end-to-end test coverage, and coverage for niche areas such as automation, performance, security, and test management.
Discussions around the choice of tools for these specific test areas abound. The abundant offerings make the tool selection process complex and time-consuming on one end, yet dynamic and flexible with an ease of change on the other end. The tools ecosystem is now so nimble that the test team is not completely locked into the tool it chooses.
Open source tools, for instance, are easy to set up, so if the team has issues, it can easily switch to another one. Commercial players are also offering their tools in bundles, making it easier for the testers to consume them in not-so-overwhelming portions.
While all these options are exciting, the challenge lies in how to go about choosing the right test tools. It is becoming increasingly important for test teams to create a virtual group of testers who can help with tool research and development. There should be tool champions, change agents, and sponsors as part of this group, which will be responsible of keeping track of the latest tools, trying them to see if they align with the team’s needs, and taking on a feasibility project before deploying them on ongoing projects. This team should be encouraged to play an external-facing role, too, so they are active in tool-related forums and discussions and can disseminate best practices within the team.
The regular testing team also should take on its own tool-related research to bring in new findings and interesting updates to share. It is important to inculcate the questioning mindset among testers to help with the selection process.
Choosing the right testing tool is not a one-time decision. It is an ongoing process to ensure that the team is current in taking advantage of the available offerings. To accomplish this, every tester needs to be willing to do research to determine the best tool choice for their team and give their test effort an edge above the rest.