Better testing: 3 reasons to ditch spreadsheets

  July 20, 2020

“We manage our testing in Excel.” This is not an uncommon thing we hear from various professionals working in the testing/QA space. On the surface level it makes senseExcel is ‘free’, ubiquitous, and requires minimal onboarding to get started. But Excel was never built to manage hundreds and hundreds of bugs and issues.

If safe, secure, and effective testing is important for your organization, it might be time to consider a test management solution. Below are some key reasons why you should consider moving your testing away from spreadsheets. We’ll also outline key steps for how to keep your existing testing data and make the jump to a more secure, scalable, and reliable test management solution.

Problem # 1 – Scalability

As your requirements grow, so do your test cases. Storing all your executions, new test case versions, and test data across a single spreadsheet can prove to be a challenge. This often results in multiple spreadsheets that your team needs to manage. As you create more and more test data, it becomes a larger time-sink to update and manage it all in Excel. Eventually, your testing/QA process will be impacted by this, creating a serious bottleneck for your releases.

TM4J – Test Management for Jira scales with your business and helps you track and organize test cases across multiple Jira projects. You store all your tests in a neat, easy-to-access folder system. And by allowing teams to share test cases across projects, and reuse test steps, TM4J helps you save time and avoid costly errors in the long run. Read more about reusing test data with TM4J here.

Calling a Test Case with Parameters
Calling a Test Case with Parameters

Problem # 2 – Traceability

On top of things to do for any QA team is linking tests back to requirements, and executions to bugs. Ensuring correct traceability is paramount to resolve critical bugs in a timely fashion. Traceability between cells is another aspect that Excel is thoroughly lacking. Without full test traceability, you can’t be sure that all requirements are covered, and bugs in releases are inevitable.

TM4J provides you with complete end-to-end visibility between test cases, requirements, executions, and defects, right inside the Jira issue viewer. What’s more, you can easily identify any gaps in test design with comprehensive test coverage and traceability reports for each step of the software development process.

Configuring permissions for test cases

Traceability report

Problem #3 – Security

Having clear standards and security permissions in place is essential, especially for highly regulated organizations. Beyond assigning basic read/review/edit access to your spreadsheet users, there’s not much else you can control from a security standpoint. You can't put in place any user or group level permissions in Excel. There are no configurations or settings in Excel to help you enforce testing standards. And without clear standards, you have zero consistency across projects, which further complicates generating reports.

TM4J lets you take control of the testing standards by allowing you to set each Jira project with permissions and custom configurations. For example, you can configure that only certain testers can create or archive test cases, or disable specific Jira issue types for the project. Read how you can customize various project-level settings in TM4J here.

Traceability report

Configuring permissions for test cases

Moving your Excel data to TM4J

One of the common questions we hear from Excel users considering the move to TM4J is whether they can retain their existing testing data. They most certainly can!

You can import your test case data in TM4J in 3 basic steps:

1. Install TM4J via your Jira instance
2. Enable TM4J for your Jira project
3. Import test cases from Excel via our in-app import wizard

You can also import your test cases and test case data via .csv file, via import from other TM4J instances, or by taking advantage of our free REST API. Once installed, you can immediately start to add your test cases to cycles, and executing them within the test player. If you’re considering moving from other test management tools, such as Xray, TestLink, or TestRail, our import wizard can also import tests cases from those tools.

For detailed information on the above, and everything else you need to know about TM4J, there’s a treasure trove of information in the support portalandproduct page.

Importing test cases in TM4J

Importing test cases in TM4J

Ready to quit spreadsheets for good?

Do you feel any of the points we discussed earlier are important for your organization? And do you feel that Excel is seriously limiting your testing team’s potential to do amazing things? If the answer is yes, it’s probably time to consider a test management solution.

Take a 30-day free trial to see how TM4J works out for you and your team. If you work in a smaller, agile team focused on automation, check out Zephyr for Jira. And if you’re in an organization that looks for additional scalability and security that only a standalone tool can offer, consider taking a look at Zephyr Enterprise.

Have you recently made the jump from managing your tests in spreadsheets? If so, how was your experience? Let us know in the comments below, or give us a shout via email, if you have any queries about moving your test management process from Excel.