A company may require a test report at the end of a project or milestone to provide an overview of the testing performed and outstanding problems. Some test reports are lengthy documents as they include portions of the test plan and contain signatures. When time must be balanced between writing documentation and keeping eyes on the product, it is important to identify leaner approaches. Below are guidelines for consideration.

Q1 – Who is Your Audience?
The answer to this question will provide the foundation of the testing report. “Who is the reader of this report?” Determine whether there will there be multiple readers and what their job functions are (ie., project manager, director product management).

Q2 – What Information is Necessary?
Once the reader(s) are identified, you need to understand: “What information does the reader require to make decisions or provide information?” If the reader is a project manager who needs to make decisions on timelines, then include relevant progress and risks to any known timelines. Understand what information the project manager provides to upper management to help support his communication. If you have multiple readers, determine if their needs for information is the same or different.

Q3 – How Much Information is Necessary?
Understanding what information is required leads us to the next question: “How much information does the reader need?” It is important to document adequate details; however, provide the reader with the minimal details that meets his needs. For example a project manager may want to understand timeline progression at a milestone level but not at individual tasks. Another way to reduce the report size is to reference other documents. For example you can reference a test plan instead of reiterating the information.

Q4 – What Information Do You Need for the Future?
The final question is based upon your own needs: “What information might be helpful to my team in the future?” Try to envision what information you or your team might find beneficial to reference at a later date.

Sample Format for a Written Report
Below are sample sections that may be appropriate depending upon your responses to the above questions.

Provide a basic heading describing the project name and other relevant information.

Project Name: XYZ
Date: Date of the report
Phase: Milestone 1 Test Report / Final Test Report

Testing Overview
Provide a brief overview of the type of testing performed. If there are multiple readers, then the overview may include relevant information for those who will not read the entire report.

The testing team spent 8-weeks performing functional, integration, and regression testing based upon approved specifications and approved changes that were made throughout testing. Three problems were logged in the bug-tracking system that was approved to be released at a later date. It is recommended that the feature is further tested by the performance team.

Test Cases Performed
If your company or client requires information, based upon test cases that were executed, then provide high-level details. Determine how much information you need to provide such as listing the test cases that passed or failed. Supplemental listings can be referenced in an addendum to maintain a reasonable report size. If
the team used automated tests, consider what information should be shared.

Caution! Be careful when providing numbers on test cases that passed and failed. Supplement this information with any known testing risks. Just because a high percentage of test cases passed testing, does not mean there are not any problems to address or the product is ready for release.
Testing was performed based upon Milestone 1 test cases.
Number of test cases performed: 100
Number of test cases passed: 95

Testing Not Performed
Identify any testing that was not performed or was out-of-scope. To reduce report size, reference any documents that provided this information.

Refer to the document “Test Plan, Section 1.5” for areas not tested.

Document any known risks that were identified during testing or risks that could not be covered through testing.The deadline did not allow time for performance testing. Initial feedback was provided on what was witnessed during functional testing, but it is recommended that the feature is tested by the performance testers.

The deadline did not allow time for performance testing. Initial feedback was provided on what was witnessed during functional testing, but it is recommended that the feature is tested by the performance testers.

Known Problems
Document any known problems that were not resolved by briefly describing the problem, severity and/or priority. This information can be provided in an addendum in a chart format.

Report Medium
How you present the information can be dependent upon your company’s process. When there is a choice, select a medium that makes sense based upon the questions answered in this article. An email summarizing the test report may be appropriate when there is limited information. When providing more details or charts, consider using a Google doc or some other word / spreadsheet format. This will make it easier to compile the information which can be attached or referenced in an email to the readers.

Using the Q’s for Verbal Updates
There may be situations when someone asks for a quick testing update. When this happens, go through the first three questions to review who you are talking to (ie., project manager) to determine what and how much information to provide. Then ask if you sufficiently answered their question or if they require additional details.

A test report does not need to be a lengthy document; but can be concisely written providing important information to the reader. When writing a test report, identify who is your reader; what information they require; and how much information is sufficient. Also consider what information your team may find helpful for the future.To maintain a reasonable report size, try to reference documents such as test plans and use addendums for lengthy information such as bug issues. Keeping a test report lean can help reduce the cost of documentation while allowing more time for actual testing.

This article was published in our February 2012 Edition.

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Bernice Niel Ruhland

Bernice Niel Ruhland is a Software Testing Manager with more than 20-years experience in testing strategies and execution, developing testing frameworks, performing data validation, and financial programming. She uses social media to connect with other testers to understand the testing approaches adopted by them to challenge her own testing skills and approaches. When not exploring the testing world, Bernice enjoys cooking and spending time with her husband living a health-conscious lifestyle. The opinions of this article are her own and not reflective of the company she is employed. Apart from other activities she regularly contributes to Testing Circus Magazine.

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