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One tool to rule them all

Whenever you are thinking about introducing a new testing tool, the chances are high that, at some point, sooner or later, someone will raise the question about integration into the existing tool landscape. That's at least my experience. Probably because it has been me who asked the question occasionally in the past. And if you ask me, you should ask that question as well. There are several questions, but you should bring the topic to the table nevertheless.


In one of my earlier blog posts, I wrote that I like testing to be visible. If testing is documented close to everything else, then it is probably more likely to be visible. So, is putting everything into one behemoth of a tool a good idea? Well, since I used the negatively connotated word behemoth, you can probably guess my take on it: no, probably not. That is my take on avoiding “well, it really depends on your context.” But to be honest with you, it really depends on your context. Is your testing integrated into your development process, or is it a separate phase after development? Or are you a user conducting acceptance tests?


If the former is true, integration is what I highly suggest. If the latter two possibilities are more like your work environment, I would still suggest integration, simply for the benefit of knowledge sharing by creating transparency. But there might be legal circumstances that prohibit full integration, so no integration or partial integration might be a valid option. So, what does this have to do with the behemoth I mentioned above. Nothing actually, those are things you can screw up (Or Not) with any kind of tool. A fully integrated tool may become a behemoth that only a few people understand, and that rather blocks you from supporting you in your testing. So we are talking about user experience here. And lean management ideas as well. And the context, of course.


Let's take Jira, for example. Why is it pretty popular in agile environments? Side note: just because you use Jira, doesn't mean you are agile, but that would warrant a blog post of its own. Anyway, it is popular, because it is easy to use and pretty adaptable. From a testing point of view, there is room for improvement, though. That's why there are quite a few plugins or tools that can communicate via interfaces out there. So, you have full integration and partial integration available. Which one is more suitable for your needs, is a question that I can't answer for you (well, given the context of this blog, I am tempted to say that TestBench might be a good fit ;-)


What I can say, though, is that I am a big fan of integrating tools, just because you eliminate two major pains:


  1. Hiding information
  2. Doubling information


The first pain is pretty synonymous with transparency. If you have information, make it visible and transparent. Customer will benefit from that. In addition it will foster further communication during development. A common interpretation of testing is that testing is about gathering information about the quality level of your product. Now if you just collect bits of knowledge without interpreting them and making them visible to other people involved, testing will be done just for the sake of testing. And doing something just for the sake of doing it is exactly the kind of waste you might want to avoid.


The second pain is actually a result of the first pain or missing integration. Someone somewhere seems to need information available only somewhere else. From a lean perspective, that is waste. From the perspective of someone who, at some part of their life, had to synchronize information in two systems, it is waste coupled with words that should probably not be spoken or written in public. Aside from personal perspectives, it slows down the process, because you are doing the same thing twice without reason, aka waste. Furthermore, it introduces another possible source for errors. The more information you are trying to keep synchronized, the higher are the chances that you will fail. So let yourself help by integration. I don't know if the truth is really out there, but the means to make knowledge transparent and available without manual fuss certainly are.


Christian Kram for TestBench Cloud Services