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Choosing a Tracking System

The mechanism you choose for capturing data depends on the size of your testing effort, your budget, and the available expertise. You might decide to purchase a test tracking and reporting system. Many vendors sell products for this purpose. For more information about vendors that sell these products, see the Test Tracking Systems link on the Web Resources page at http://windows.microsoft.com/windows2000/reskit/webresources . Alternatively, perform a search on the Web using keywords such as:

  • "software testing tools"

  • "test management tools"

  • "automated testing tools"

  • "testing tools"

Before making a decision, investigate the options and compare the cost of a ready-made solution to that of developing your own.

If you decide to develop your own system, it is recommended that you capture test results in a database rather than in a spreadsheet or word processing document. A database provides the greatest flexibility in reporting and is the easiest to manage as the volume of data grows. A Web front end provides easy access, both for entering data and for viewing status.

The advantages of an automated, online solution are that you can easily record results and create reports. The disadvantages are that it takes development time and expertise. Paper-based systems are not recommended because of major disadvantages, such as inaccessibility and the difficulty in producing timely, accurate reports.

The mechanism you decide to use—whether you develop or purchase it—should meet these criteria:

  • Easy to enter data accurately.

  • Easy to access by all who need to enter or view data.

  • Easy to back up or duplicate for safekeeping.

  • Easy to select and sort data for a variety of reports.

  • Able to handle a large volume of data.

  • Able to handle multiple, simultaneous users.

  • Protects existing entries from changes.

The testers need a straightforward, easily remembered process for recording data as they complete their tests. You might want to have a link to the application or Web site on the test computers.

If you develop a Web site on your intranet to collect data, you can use the site as your test communications center. Include status reports, contact names, a calendar of testing events, links to related information, and other relevant documents.

To build the data collection mechanism, you need resources to develop the following:

  • Web or some other application code for the data-entry application

  • Database and schema

  • Reports and queries

  • Security, if required

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