Getting started with IBM Rational Quality Manager

Learn how to get started with IBM® Rational® Quality Manager, which is collaborative, Web-based, quality management software for comprehensive test planning, manual testing, and integration with automated test tools. This article describes the primary features, provides an introduction to workflows and roles, and shows you how Rational Quality Manager can integrate with your other tools and the way that your team works.

Michael Kelly (Mike@MichaelDKelly.com), Consultant, www.MichaelDKelly.com

Michael Kelly is currently an independent consultant and provides custom training in the IBM Rational testing tools. He consults, writes, and speaks on topics in software testing. He is currently serving as the Program Director for the Indianapolis Quality Assurance Association and is a Director at Large for the Association for Software Testing. He can be reached by email at Mike@MichaelDKelly.com.



30 December 2008

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IBM® Rational® Quality Manager helps teams collaborate by synchronizing teamwork throughout the software development life cycle, helps them automate labor-intensive activities, and helps them better govern their projects by providing reliable and timely metrics. It is built the IBM® Jazz™ platform, which is a collaborative, role-based, business-driven environment that provides tools for workflow control, tracking, and metrics reporting.

Rational Quality Manager is collaborative, Web-based, quality management software for comprehensive test planning, manual testing, and integration with automated test tools. It can replace IBM® Rational® Manual Tester, Rational ClearQuest® test management tools, or Rational® Test Manager™. It is intended to be used by test teams of all sizes and supports a variety of user roles, such as test manager, test architect, test lead, tester, and lab manager, as well as roles outside of the test organization. This article describes the primary features, provides an introduction to workflows and roles, and shows you how Rational Quality Manager can integrate with your other tools and the way that your team works.

What Rational Quality Manager can do for you

IBM Rational Quality Manager includes a long, long list of features. There is no other Rational product like it, so it can take a while to figure out the scope. Figure 1 summarizes some of the key features, and the rest of this article digs into each of these five areas.

Figure 1. Rational Quality Manager features
image of feature list

Share information seamlessly

One of the core ideas behind Rational Quality Manager is information sharing. The focus is on making information freely available to everyone on the team so that anyone can check the status of the project. Information and reporting are real-time, with information aggregated in one place for more powerful reporting.

IBM® Rational® Quality Manager is built on Java™ and Web 2.0 technology-based architecture. This means that team collaboration doesn't have to be any more complicated than opening a browser. No heavy installation or proprietary, limiting Microsoft® ActiveX® technologies are required.

This enables team members to assign tasks and defects to each other and to view everyone's status. Test plan authors and test case designers can distribute their work for review and track the status by each reviewer. New and changed requirements are visible to the team, as are the test cases that are needed to satisfy those requirements. Team members are notified automatically of any changes and milestones that impact their work.

The central repository stores versioned histories of test assets and templates for reuse. Currently, Rational Quality Manager provides support for medium to large teams of up to 250 members, distributed or local.

Manage the whole project life cycle

Rational Quality Manager enables full life cycle versioning and traceability from requirements and tests to defects and remediation. You can create requirements directly in Rational Quality Manager, or you can track requirements through a dynamic link to requirements management tools, such as IBM® Rational® RequisitePro®. Test cases can be linked to requirements. This provides project teams with traceability so that when issues are found during test runs, defects can be entered and tracked back up to the originating requirements.

Rational Quality Manager is built on a flexible process framework that enables you to change your development practices over time. As delivered, it defines the roles, processes, and ownership of deliverables, plus automates the flow of work and assets. There is shared access to and traceability of assets throughout the software development life cycle. The software also provides contextual information tailored to the individual. Users can customize the layout and content on the Rational Quality Manager dashboard, and, because the dashboard is continually updated, they can view the most current information that pertains to their work, individually.

In addition, Rational Quality Manager helps ensure that your business processes comply with industry, corporate, and departmental standards and regulations. Throughout the testing life cycle, you'll have the tools to get an up-to-the-minute measurement of software quality and project metrics. You can use it to produce reliable records of test results and project history, too.

Manage manual testing

With IBM Rational Quality Manager, a test plan is a dynamic, living document that evolves with the project. It is a quality management contract that clearly describes project goals and entry and exit criteria, while also tracking prioritized items for validation. Static data, such as business objectives, and dynamic data, such as requirements and test cases, is captured in the plan. The test plan is also the cornerstone of the test management process.

From the test plan, you can use an integrated manual testing feature. Testers can use the rich text editor that can capture test steps alongside embedded images. Using this editor, testers can record the test steps that must be executed to validate a given function of the application. You can also embed test data as a property of a given test step.

During tests, the tool populates the Microsoft® Windows clipboard with that text, so that the tester can paste the text into the application. This can help eliminate transcription errors. For validating data, they can copy data from the application to the clipboard. Rational Quality Manager can then compare this to baseline data stored as part of the test and highlight any discrepancies in the test log.

To enable test reuse, Rational Quality Manager uses keywords, which allow testers to share common steps between tests. These can be manual steps or automated test scripts. Creating hybrid manual tests with automated keywords is often a very simple way for manually focused test teams to leverage the power of test automation, without making a full commitment to a test automation framework.

Use automation to accelerate project schedules

In the test plan, you can plan and track test execution schedules. That enables you to track coverage by schedule, as well as by environment. When used in conjunction with Rational Test Lab Manager, Rational Quality Manager provides lab management capabilities that enable you to create requests for the test environments specified in your test plan. You can then ensure that lab resources and test environments are available when you need them. Lab managers can track all lab resources from a centralized resource repository, and they can track service requests from the test team.

You can create data for physical machines and virtual images, search for resources with specific configurations, and manage requests. If you have the lab management client access license and administration permissions, you can create reservations for lab resources. If your system is integrated with an external provider application with virtualization capabilities, you can work with virtual machine and image collections. If it is integrated with provider applications that provide deployment and inventory capabilities, you can update lab resource data to display the latest lab resource configurations and new lab resources that have been added, and you can run scripts, projects, or libraries that are configured in the external provider applications on remote lab resources.

You can reserve lab resources for immediate use or for specified periods. You can also request a lab resource from a lab manager. Lab managers can track and manage lab resource requests by viewing the status of all requests. They can either assign the requests to lab personnel to fulfill or fulfill them directly. However, the reservation functions described in this section of the Help feature might not be available, depending on how lab management permissions and client access licenses have been defined for your user account.

IBM Rational Quality Manager includes technology that is designed to automatically identify and select the minimum number of tests required for a given level of environment coverage. This enables testers to ensure that they optimize configuration coverage within their time or resource constraints.

Report on project metrics for informed release decisions

Rational Quality Manager can create and track prioritized work items for all team members. This capability enables teams to keep track of work that must be done to complete a quality assurance project. This feature establishes clear, prioritized ownership for project deliverables, thus ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks. This also allows the individual team members to see what work has been assigned to them, or they can view a team event log that updates automatically as activities occur and progress.

With the reporting features included in Rational Quality Manager, you can tailor content and present information on customizable dashboards. Each user can customize home page content and layout, thereby leveraging automated data collection with extensive filtered reporting. This leads to a constantly updated team status that everyone can see.


Rational Quality Manager user roles and workflows

Rational Quality Manager includes several roles and workflows. The goal isn't to get you to do things "the Rational way,: Instead, it is to give you something you can use as-delivered to demonostrate some of the capabilities so you know what's possible, as well as to show you what others in the industry may be doing. By default, Rational Quality Manager includes these predefined user roles:

  • Architect
  • Test manager
  • Test lead
  • Tester
  • Lab manager
  • Everyone (meaning everyone else)

You can create or remove roles as needed. When you first install the software, all permissions are enabled for all of the default roles. When your administrator creates user IDs, each user ID is assigned to a role. Your team can configure the roles so that certain functions are enabled or disabled for each role. Because roles are configurable, your test team can customize Rational Quality Manager to suit their needs.

The diagram in Figure 2 shows one possible workflow for a test team that consists of a test manager, test lead, tester, and lab manager. In Rational Quality Manager, you will see different activities, transitions, and states for various artifacts to support workflows like this. The diagram implies that each task follows sequentially; whereas, in reality, most tasks can be acted on simultaneously.

Figure 2. Example of the workflow through Rational Quality Manager
image of workflow

In this workflow, each role might perform the tasks shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Typical tasks for key roles
Test managerTest leadTesterLab manager
Create, edit, and version test plans and test casesCreate, review, and approve test cases Review work itemsFulfill requests for lab resources
Review and approve test plans and test casesAssociate requirements with test casesCreate, reuse, and review test cases and manual test scriptsManage test lab resources
Assign work items Run reports to track project statusRun test execution records using manual and automated scripts
Run and review reports to track project statusCreate test execution records Request lab resources for testing
Create lab resource requests Create defect reports
Monitor status, requirements, and traceabilityAssign work items
Create defect reports
Manage test lab resources

Your team might use a different set of roles and a different workflow. For example, some companies separate test automation, performance testing, and security testing into separate roles. If that's your situation, you can set up those roles and associate tasks with them in your workflow. If you are on the other end of the spectrum, and you only have testers who do everything, then you do not need a complicated role hierarchy. Just set everyone up the same and move on. It's there to support your workflow, not to change it.

Automated testing overview

Rational Quality Manager enables you to manage and run automated test scripts created with other test tools. You can create test scripts that refer to existing tests that were created with IBM Rational Functional Tester, Rational Performance Tester, Rational Service Tester, Rational Robot, and Rational AppScan Tester Edition. The test scripts that you create are references to the actual tests created in the other testing tools.

When you choose to run an automated test, Rational Quality Manager sends commands to the machines in your test lab, causing the native test to be run and the results to be displayed in your browser. Automated tests can reside on test machines in your test lab or at shared network locations. When you create a reference to an automated test, you must specify where the test resources are located. You can also perform bulk imports of your automated tests.

Automated test tools integrate with Rational Quality Manager through the use of adapters. Each adapter serves as a bridge between the test tool and Rational Quality Manager. The adapter receives requests from Rational Quality Manager and then runs tests on the test machine where the test tool is installed. In most cases, the adapter is installed with the native product. For example, the Rational Performance Tester adapter is installed with Rational Performance Tester on the performance tester test machine in the lab. Any configuration required for the adapter is also handled on the machine where the native product is installed.

In the illustration in Figure 3, you can see how Rational Quality Manager drives automated tests through assets local to an execution machine or assets located on a shared server.

Figure 3. Rational Functional Tester resources accessed through Rational Quality Manager
image of flow chart
  1. In both workflows, in Step 1, the user chooses to run an automated test through the Web client.
  2. In Step 2, the adapter receives the request and initiates a test run on the test machine. If the test resources are shared, then the adapter receives the request and copies the test from the shared location to the functional test machine.
  3. In Step 3, the test runs on the test machine, and the adapter sends the results back to the Rational Quality Manager server.
  4. Finally, in Step 4, test execution and test execution results can be viewed in the browser on the Web client.

Next steps

Rational Quality Manager is an environment for both decision makers and testers. Your challenge as you start to get more involved with it will not be getting it to do what you want, but figuring out how to effectively use all of the information provided and how to customize some of the common features and artifacts to be most effective for you and the way you work. Watch developerWorks for future articles on intermediate and advanced Rational Quality Manager topics.

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