What is test management?
Explore IBM's test management solution Subscribe to Sustainability Updates
An illustration of a calculator, a bar graph and two tree icons

Published: 29 December 2023
Contributors: Alice Gomstyn, Alexandra Jonker

What is test management?

Test management is the planning, monitoring and documenting of testing activities used for product quality assurance. Test management is closely associated with software testing. As software development has become more complex, so have testing efforts, making test management an important part of the development process.

Test management today commonly involves the use of test management solutions that can organize and streamline workflows critical to successful testing. Such solutions can facilitate better test planning, help build test environments, provide test automation, allow traceability and improve communication and collaboration among team members. Test management should not be confused with project management—the latter may be used to organize the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC) while the former focuses specifically on the software testing process of the SDLC.

Effective test management can enable continuous testing, revealing real-time opportunities for improvements in product quality—enabling fixes as a product is still under development—and accelerating the delivery of quality products. This marks a contrast to traditional testing, which takes place at the end of a product development process and offers fewer opportunities for improvements and defect management.

7 sustainability trends to take action on

Take a look at the trends shaping the world of sustainable business and the insights that can help drive transformation.

Related content

Register for the guide to the EU's CSRD

Why is test management important?

The goal of testing is to identify and resolve issues that would otherwise prevent the product from meeting end user expectations. However, costly quality issues have occurred over the years despite notable advancements in the testing of software applications. In the 1960s, software testing was largely limited to testing individual lines of code, or unit testing. But through the decades, the testing process expanded to include multiple types of testing strategies and test objectives, ranging from integration testing, which ensures that different software components can operate together, to regression testing, which checks whether code or feature updates hurt the software’s overall functionality.

While the development of different testing strategies can empower organizations to discover more issues, the variety of tests and test metrics available creates its own challenge: prioritization. Organizations are faced with prioritizing the types of testing and test cases necessary to identify the most urgent problems and address them expediently. This challenge is compounded by the growing complexity of products being tested: more functions and features per product necessitate even more testing.

A lack of prioritization and optimization in test planning can result in inefficient and ineffective testing cycles, impeding the execution of development methodologies like agile and DevOps while allowing costly defects to slip by. Fortunately, test management and test management tools can help mitigate these challenges, allowing development teams to accelerate the delivery of high-quality software and meet scalability demands.

What are the phases of test management?

While test management frameworks might vary from company to company, generally the test management process is divided into two phases: planning and test execution, both overseen by a test manager.

During the planning phase, test managers conduct risk analysis, in which they determine what could go wrong during a testing lifecycle; test estimation, in which they consider what resources and funding the testing will require; test planning, in which they map out test strategy and objectives; and test organization, which entails structuring the testing team and assigning responsibilities to testers and other team members.

During the test execution phase, test managers supervise and monitor the progress of testing activities; conduct issue management to identify problems arising during testing and instruct team members to address them; and create test reports summarizing and analyzing the test process and test data for review by stakeholders.

What features do test management tools offer?

In the past, companies have used spreadsheet tools like Excel for test management purposes. While such tools are easy to learn, modern test management systems offer features to better organize and streamline test management processes.

One of the key benefits of today’s test management tools is automation, including API testing, functional user interface (UI) testing, performance testing and service virtualization (simulating necessary testing components may not be available in real time otherwise.). A recent survey found that automation frameworks have reduced software deployment times by 75% and improved test coverage—a metric showing how thoroughly the software is being tested—by 35%. Automation can also help testers reuse test data in different test runs for greater efficiency.

Other test management system features may include:

  • Support for manual testing processes
  • Creating test plans that delineate project quality goals and exit criteria
  • Tracking testing resources and ensuring they’re available to execute test plans
  • Configuration and test case management to track test cases, test suites and test runs associated with different product variants
  • Managing regulatory requirements and preparing for compliance audits
  • Accelerating testing using rich text, inline images and assisted data entry and validation for precise test definition and execution
  • Integration with external automation tools and third-party testing tools like Jira through standard industry interfaces like Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC)
  • Communication among geographically dispersed teams through event feeds, integrated chat and automated traceability
  • Providing dashboards and advanced reporting capabilities for sharing test results and other information to address stakeholder needs and assess readiness for delivery.
  • Optimizing the use of test management features through tutorials
Related solutions
IBM Engineering Test Management

Use a collaborative, quality management solution that offers end-to-end test planning and test asset management from requirements to defects.

Explore IBM Engineering Test Management

IBM InfoSphere Optim Test Data Management

Optimize and automate processes that create and manage nonproduction environment data. 

Explore IBM InfoSphere Optim Test Data Management

IBM DevOps Test

Help ensure application quality with a testing and virtualization solution for your entire application lifecycle.

Explore IBM DevOps Test

IBM DevOps Test Workbench

Easily create and execute test scripts.

Explore IBM DevOps Test Workbench
Resources Minimizing risk: Improved quality through better test management

Leading companies are adopting an integrated and continuous testing process to ensure they consistently improve product quality.

Danske Bank drives competitive differentiation in banking

To shorten the development cycle and bring IT closer to the business, Danske Bank adopted agile development processes, managed using IBM Engineering Workflow Management software.

What is software testing?

Software testing today is most effective when it is continuous: testing is started during design, continues as the software is built out and even occurs when deployed into production.

What is requirements management?

Clear, concise, error-free requirements help engineering teams detect errors early, reducing project cost and risk.

What is bug tracking?

Also known as defect tracking or issue tracking, bug tracking is the process of logging and monitoring bugs or errors during software testing.

What is DevOps?

DevOps speeds delivery of higher-quality software by combining and automating the work of software development and IT operations teams.

Take the next step

IBM Engineering Lifecycle Management (ELM) can help you embrace an end-to-end management approach to your systems and software development. Conquer complexity from design to execution, unite teams through digital thread, leverage modelling and reuse, harness insights from automated reporting, and confidently operate at scale.

Explore ELM Book a live demo