Every day, my QA team works with the Applause Test Case Management (TCM) solution. We use it for our own internal QA and to manage test cases on behalf of our global customers. It’s enabled for customer use, not only for their testing with Applause but also their internal testing as well. Our TCM capabilities have undergone a tremendous evolution based on their extensive use and lessons learned from over a decade of digital quality testing.
As Chris Munroe, our VP of Delivery, Strategic Practices outlines in his blog, Use a Test Case Management Tool Made for the Job, there are many benefits of test case management. In general, most test case management solutions improve testing speed and aggregate results in one place, important characteristics for QA organizations to leverage. Applause TCM adds a few elements that distinguish us from other solutions: access to the uTest community, the world’s largest and most diverse of its kind; innovative reporting and data views that enable deep examination of specific areas and trends; and cost savings, as Applause TCM is included in an active functional testing subscription.
In this blog, as Director of QA, I offer my perspective on how we continue to develop our TCM solution and why I think it’s the best tool for the job.
We’re our own customer
When you use something intensively each day, you become intimate with what works for your purposes and what doesn’t. Because we use our applications thousands of times daily on a global basis, we can confidently advocate their use to our customers, knowing it provides quality and confidence when it comes to their releases. Our testing team gets the builds and tickets to test and then provides extensive in-market device/OS coverage, regressing testing, new feature testing as well as test case writing. We continually add innovations that make life easier, both for our clients and ourselves. There are no random features; they exist because they make a difference.
Alongside testing of the Applause TCM solution, our team tests the Applause platform (an open testing platform that easily integrates with all standard development systems, including APIs, bug tracking and bug fix verification systems), our automation framework and software development kit (SDK), our websites, and our uTest mobile app, used by our community of professional testers.
The types of testing we do include:
Manual and automated functional testing – using members of the uTest global community of freelance digital experts.
In-Sprint testing – providing fast turnaround for feature tests and bug fix verification through a 2-way integration with Jira.
Integrated functional testing – enabling us to see both automation and manual test results in one place.
Regular accessibility, localization, security, and usability studies from our community experts.
Reporting and analytics delivered through TCM allows us – as well as our customers – to monitor our release readiness and make the go / no-go decision.
Evolution of Applause TCM
Back in 2007 when Applause started its journey into the quality world, we used the brute force method of Excel spreadsheets because that was stable, reliable and a standard quality practice.
We evolved technologies and best practices as processes moved from Waterfall to Agile. We had a similar evolution with automation, originally using software like PEARL and Tcl/TK; now we have mainstream tools like no-code and AI-driven automation testing. To manage test cases for our customers and our internal work, we advanced from spreadsheets to software, bringing in TestRail, as we had a number of clients using it. Our goal is always to connect with our clients where they are, and to continually improve upon best practices.
The Applause QA team has been instrumental in helping to guide the evolution of our TCM, initially used solely for community-executed testing, but now managing community tests alongside customers’ internal test cases.
Our Quality team has built over 5,000+ test cases for our own use which continuously grow from one release to the next, split across more than 20 test suites. We execute our test cases manually and through automated scripts. Whichever approach is executed, our TCM capability enables us to easily monitor the results against our weekly release testing – 3,500+ test cases (automation scripts and manual).
Looking back, from spreadsheets to using TestRail, we’ve always realized that there is room for improvement. That has remained a constant in our philosophy and evolution of TCM and our other solutions.
Applause’s approach to TCM
It’s been a journey to our current state of TCM. At this point, the QA team has been leveraging Applause TCM in our weekly cycles of manual and automated test cases, which we successfully imported from TestRail into our production environment. We are excited about the move from TestRail for our own internal use.
Over time, while using our TCM, we’ve discovered and reported a number of issues. We’ve fixed them, and in doing this, improved on our solution, which we believe gives Applause TCM the upper hand in comparison to competitive test case management offerings. We’ve built features that make the overall experience better: we’ve enhanced performance through load testing, made automation improvements, improved overall reporting around build quality and trends and added push reporting for executives, enhanced our migration strategy service and added APIs.
In building a one-stop shop for TCM, we focus on creating fast and flexible testing features. We’ve been able to quickly create and execute test cycles (test runs) using both our internal team members as well as the external community members. Both internal and external testers have access to all test assets generated from all engagements, which are displayed in one place in an easy-to-digest format, helping with reporting, insights and decision making. While other test case management offerings may have similar characteristics and features, the years of experience of using our tool internally and with clients all around the world have helped us focus on details and performance characteristics that create a slightly higher level of efficacy in our TCM.
We handle whatever comes our way… and constantly use lessons learned to improve our TCM
It’s our mission to accommodate our customers, whether they have test cases in Excel or another test case management system. We offer several very flexible ways to import test cases into our platform, and advocate importing from a comma-separated values file (CSV), which is highly adaptable, to different file formats. It’s simple to configure the import to match the structure of your file.
For TestRail users, we provide the ability to import via our TestRail integration. Clients simply configure the connector and import their existing test cases including all attachments. Applause supports custom fields for test cases, so it’s easy to create and map built-in and custom TestRail fields.
Applause also offers extra features like the Applause TCM for Jira plugin. This gives direct visibility in Jira of clients’ testing activity and results from the Applause platform. Everyone can see which tickets are being tested and the results without leaving Jira, and it provides traceability – from software requirements to test cases. And this Jira access enables anyone using it to access test results, so users who are not regular users can enter to view dashboards, for example.
We’ve become very flexible over the years. Whatever our clients bring to us, and in whatever file format or system, we work hard to be a true partner and consultant. We focus on helping improve clients’ test case management processes and provide insights that will make things run even better in the future. We offer consultation around inefficiencies clients may have in their QA teams, as well as industry-specific insights that help improve TCM issues. This ongoing dialogue informs future changes for our TCM. It’s a win-win that fuels constant learning, insight and innovation.
As a result, we believe that we’ve designed feature characteristics that are a cut above other test case management solutions:
- Test case reusability
- User-friendly interface
- Test cases and test suite customization and flexibility
- Integration capabilities
- Test data management
- Reporting and analytics
- Security and access controls
- Automation support
In QA, we are always looking to make our jobs faster, more efficient and user friendly. It’s been fun to see our evolution in this regard, both internally and with our customers who use our TCM tool. Our testing practices lean more toward the left, meaning QA wants features and functionality as early as possible. The earlier we can get our hands on something, the sooner we can provide feedback to product management and development. In doing this, our approach is twofold. We examine how we:
Internally at Applause, want to use TCM to better our quality and production within our jobs
Believe our end users will understand and embrace our TCM within their CI/CD release process and quality validation in reporting status to all stakeholders
We celebrate the successes we have along our TCM improvement journey – drinking our own champagne in this regard.
Cost savings and value cycle
We continually strive to improve our Applause tools to increase speed, collaboration and process effectiveness, fostering enterprise standards and culminating in improved digital quality. And, whatever it takes, we will always work to enable our quality efforts through improved technology integrations, process and partnering.
Applause QA looks forward to the maturity and ongoing growth of our TCM solution. With our internal development team, we control what we will deliver, as well as how it’s developed and functions. We own the timeframe as well, so we can meet our defined organizational goals. This enables us to avoid the delays that third-party solutions introduce into our test case management process. As we improve our TCM tool and expand its capabilities, it lessens the load and improves digital quality for our customers around the world – and that’s what we’re all about.
Learn more about the Applause TCM solution.