7 mistakes when estimating testing activities

7 mistakes when estimating testing activities

Following on from our previous article regarding the best test practices to adopt for a successful testing project, here is a collection of the most common mistakes that our expert testers have observed concerning the different estimates related to testing activities. They have identified 7 mistakes that every Tester and test project manager should be aware of, and you will most certainly learn something new in this article, at least, we hope so !

1. Ignoring past data. There are several inputs that can be used for evaluating the efficiency of testing activities, and the real data from previous projects is one of the most valuable. The worst thing to do is to ignore this data. Indeed, it is coming from similar projects, from the same company (which means same processes, culture, etc.). This means that this data  is very reliable for future estimations. 

Successful teams use this data in their estimations, adjusting the numbers to the current project. 

2. Not analysing the inputs. Most of the time this lack of analysis happens because the time pressure is high. Even in such cases, the requirements, standards and other inputs should be analysed, so that the estimates are accurate, otherwise the deviations could be huge.

3. Not involving the team. The testers are the experts. They will need to design, implement and execute the tests, so they should be involved in the estimation even when the test manager has experience. As most Test Managers don’t have time to test anymore, there are details and aspects they can miss. Involving the team also helps with building confidence and empowering the testers, therefore it should always be done.

4. Not using templates. Especially when the testers are less experienced or the Test Manager just started in this role, a template is a real help. Not only, it allows the information to be structured and easy to understand, but it also provides a way not to forget important aspects that need to be estimated. The template can be provided by a more experienced Test Manager, it can be taken from the internet or can be done by the estimator before it is really needed. It makes sense to create the template when the pressure is low, so that all the important items are added to it, and not when the estimation is requested and the pressure is high.

5. Ignoring the power of reviews. Even the most experienced professionals can make mistakes. In the opposite corner, the less experienced can estimate correctly the effort or the cost for an activity, but their lack of experience can make them exclude some activities from the estimation, which can lead to big deviations. Asking a colleague (preferably a more experienced one) to check the estimation before sharing it with the project team is always a good idea.

6. Not knowing the difference between effort and duration. Effort means the number of hours needed to complete a task (for example 16 hours). Duration (or time) means the duration needed to complete that task with the allocated resources. So, for this example, if the test team has 2 testers, the 16 hour task will have a duration of 1 day, if both of them will work on the task, or of 2 days, if only one tester handles the task. The effort impacts the cost, the duration impacts the schedule.

7. Not adding the assumptions to the estimation file. On one hand, this is important for us, as changes can appear during a project, so it’s useful to be able to go back and see what was estimated and under what conditions. On the other hand, the assumptions are making the estimation more transparent and comprehensible for the others, avoiding most of the upcoming questions regarding the figures.

We hope that you learned useful things in this article, and that it will help you achieve your projects with more efficiency ! This list isn’t exhaustive, and if you have any suggestions or questions, please write them in the comments and contact us directly.

Also, if you want to launch a test project, we would be delighted to help you out and share our expertise with you. Send us a message with your request !


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