How to write an effective test report

The test report is the primary work deliverable from the testing phase. It disseminates the information from the test execution phase that is needed for project managers, as well as the stakeholders, to make further decisions. Anomalies and the final decomposition of the anomalies are recorded in this report to ensure the readers know the quality status of the product under test.

This tip will be a guideline for testers to identify the vital information that needs to be included in the report. At a bare minimum, the test report should contain the test summary identifier, objective, summary of testing activity, variances, testing activities and last but not least, the important piece of information -- defects.

Test summary identifier -- The identifier need to be associated on each round of testing. In other words, each round of testing must have a unique identifier to ensure readability and traceability.

Objective -- This is the objective of each round of testing. Does this round of testing cater for component testing, system testing, regression testing, integration testing or others?

Summary -- This section includes the summary of testing activity in general. Information detailed here includes the number of test cases executed, the scope of testing, the number of defects found with severity classification, and test environments set up and used for the testing.

Variances -- If there's a discrepancy between the complete

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product and the requirement, use this section to highlight it. Variances can be on the plan, procedures and test items.

Activity -- Summarize all major testing milestones such as Test Plan, Test Case Development, Test Execution and Test Reporting in this section. Information on resource consumption, total staffing level and total lapsed time should be reported as well.

Defects -- This is the most essential section in the report. This is where you report defect information such as the number of defects found, defect severity classification, defect density, etc. Test metrics are important to complement this section. Below are list of available metrics that can be used:

  • Test defect by test phase -- Analyze test defects by test phase
  • Test defect by severity level -- Analyze test defects by severity level
  • Accepted vs. rejected test defects
  • Defect density -- The number of defects per KLOC or test cases

In general, writing the test report is important to make sure readers can make correct conclusions based on it. The output of this report will mold your readers' perception of you. The better your report, the better your reputation as tester.

This was first published in November 2007

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