Four Key KPIs for Automated Testing

Test automation makes software testing easier, faster and is essential in today's fast-moving software delivery environment. Automated testing makes use of software tools to typically run a large number of tests repeatedly to ensure an application doesn't break whenever new changes are introduced. Implementing automated testing is a process, and any KPIs and metrics chosen to measure improvement need to take into account unique aspects of the organization, market, or environment they are being used in.

Once you've chosen the appropriate tests to automate, you then need to choose the right key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure or validate that the software meets your customers' expectations. Everyone in the organization – from developers to testers to executives – can view these results and gain a greater understanding of the test automation efforts.

Here are four of the most widely used KPIs (and corresponding metrics) for automated testing in use today:

Requirements Coverage

The quality of a piece of software is often defined by its ability to meet the detailed project requirements defined by business and project team members. To do this, divide the number of requirements covered, by the total number of scoped requirements for a sprint, release or project. For agile projects, it is also important to have a WIP (work in progress) limit, which is a strategy for preventing bottlenecks in software development. These limits must be agreed upon by the development team before a project begins and are enforced by the team's facilitator/project manager.

Defect Distribution

The goal of QA test management on agile projects is to find and fix as many bugs as early as possible. The defect distributions metric uncovers areas where defects are being found. The number of identified defects should reduce as the project progresses; areas that don't follow this trend must be looked into even more intensively. Defect distribution metrics are very helpful in identifying hotspots such as problematic requirements that are causing bottlenecks in the development process.

Defect Open and Close Rate

Agile teams must keep accurate records of the number of spotted defects to ensure they don't pass testing and show up in the final release. The Defect Open and Close Rate metric is a ratio of the defects found after delivery divided by the defects found before delivery. This is also a good metric for gauging how quickly developers and testers are collaborating towards resolving each issue.

Execution Trends

These identify which tests have been executed by a given member of QA team, as well as trends related to the status of defects. QA managers can use Execution metrics to quantify the effectiveness of individual team members and the project team as a whole. Execution Trends are a broader, high-level way that identifies and offers insight into the ongoing ability of a given team to deliver on its promises.

The End Goal

It is essential to create a culture of collaboration across various teams when implementing automated testing. These include developers, operations, quality assurance, business analysts, management, etc. Using tools such as Testworthy allow agile teams to track and report different automation metrics (derived from KPIs) in real-time. They also allow reusing tests on different agile projects, and even work with automation information from across different development stacks. At the end, a good team, powered by a comprehensive test management tool and a well-planned automation strategy, result in a defect-free and truly high-quality software product.