Network Testing: Insufficient Resource Visibility within the Test Environment

This is the second post in a six-part series on lab management challenges. For more information, check out the first post, "Top 5 Challenges of Lab Management."

The efficiency of the testing process is dependent on the integration of a savvy testing team and a highly versatile testing solution. Each team member plays a pivotal role throughout production, and therefore must have the ability to clearly communicate results and happenings to the rest of the team.

For the betterment of company-wide performance and communication, teamwork must be both valued and perfected. In a recent article in Forbes, 6 Ways Successful Teams are Built to Last, the author points to the importance of feedback:

"Feedback is the key to assuring any team is staying on track, but more importantly that it is improving each day. Feedback should be proactive and constant. Many leaders are prone to wait until a problem occurs before they give feedback."

While feedback is critical for overall field-testing team communications, it is often stunted by poor visibility of system resources. Attempts to provide useful feedback may be halted entirely when systems are not transparent.

Resource visibility is crucial, as the lab resources used to conduct testing dictate the process from start-to-finish. The inability to easily share tools creates a dysfunctional lab environment, and will lead to costly mistakes. Below are several obstacles that hinder communication while attempting to manage lab resources manually.

Obstacles that Can Negatively Affect Lab Communications

Too Many Resources

Lab resource management is not a simple task. There are numerous hardware and software combinations, as well as an abundance of configuration options. The complicated nature of testing resources makes strong communications critical for the coordination and co-management of lab resources.

For example, the inability to create a shared schedule for daily resource usage is detrimental to efficiencies, and leads to testing delays (due to unavailable resources and inefficient time management). Those who do try to budget time may be forced to re-evaluate their testing schedules if a requested tool is in use. This cycle ultimately leads to missed deadlines.  It is key to maximize use of currently held resources, and avoid the continued purchase of new, unnecessary tools.

Uninformed Decision-Making

Having the proper tools, processes and team members in place to enable quality teamwork ultimately streamlines communication from the lower level all the way through upper management. But, if messages are miscommunicated, or worse, forgotten, those at the executive level may become ignorant of ongoing development or results.

Executive level team members must remain informed of the testing progress, schedules and results so that informed decision-making across the entire value chain.

The inability to easily gain access to testing reports and resources is a problem. Unless upper management is performing the test, or receiving detailed updates from testers, they have little to no visibility into system resources on a day-to-day basis. In this situation, upper management may not be able to the most informed, real-time decisions.

Disorganized Reports

Good test reports increase resource visibility. However, manual reporting can result in disaster if not done correctly and systematically. Mistakes in reporting lead to continued setbacks throughout the duration of the testing and launch processes.

Manual reports may differ by the nature and dedication of the individual who created them. One may overlook a pertinent detail, or another may not feel the need to include a key point.

The inconsistency, or inadequacy, of test reporting is a major issue for test teams and the overall success of the product testing conducted. Running a test is pointless if the results are not properly documented, communicated across the test team, and triggering the right next step.

Lack of Forward Planning

Does everyone on the testing team know short- and long-term goals for the specific product launch? How about for the organizational testing processes?

While battling the issues resulting from poor resource visibility, future plans may not be crafted, articulated across the team, or sufficiently thought out. Teams may function from day-to-day, without the ability to look ahead.

To create a functional workflow, each member must have the ability to communicate and deliver feedback, whether constructive or positive. In the absence of effective communication and growing lack of information, feedback is a mere afterthought. In this environment, teams will not reach their full potential to perform.

Finding the right solution will create lasting value for tests, products and features to come. Testing teams must find the right collaborative platform from which they can thrive. With the right testing solution, teams can perfect the art of teamwork.

Communication is crucial to any team unit. How does your testing team collaborate to improve teamwork from lower to upper level management? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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