10 Pieces of Advice on Software Test Estimation Time

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Published: 07th March 2012
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Not only development cycle plays an important role in any project, but also test estimation and correct execution is also of a great importance. If you adhere to the declared estimation time you can establish a good reputation with a client.
The main companion in estimation of the software testing services time is your experience. Work experience helps you to prepare a correct time of the estimation for the testing cycle. Certainly, you cannot give some numbers at random. Time estimation should be real and precise.
Factors that can influence software test estimation and some general advice on how to estimate accurately:

1. Some reserve time.
Add some reserve time to your estimation. Yet, the numbers should be real. Having this extra time in estimation helps to cover any delays that may occur during testing. Plus it enables maximum test coverage.
2. Take into consideration the bug cycle
Bug cycle is also a part of test estimation. Sometimes it happens that the actual test cycle lasts a couple more days than were planned. Thatís why itís necessary to consider the fact that test cycle relies upon stability of the build. If the build is not stable, then more time is needed to fix it and therefore testing cycles automatically gets longer.
3. Accessibility of all resources for estimated period
While doing test estimation one should take into consideration all vacations/holidays that are planned by the team member, especially long ones in the nearest weeks or in the next few months. This will guarantee that the estimation is realistic. The estimation should also reflect some fixed number of resources for a test cycle. If the number of estimation changes, in most cases it decreases, then the estimation should be reconsidered and refreshed according to the change.
4. The possibility of parallel testing
If there are some previous versions of the same product why not compare the output data? It can profusely simplify your current task. However donít forget to consider that the estimation is done of the current product version.
5. Estimations can go wrong Ė reconsider the estimations regularly in initial stages before you get down to work
At the beginning of the project itís useful to reconsider the test estimation often and make adjustments if necessary. It is not a good idea to make the estimation longer once itís frozen, unless, of course, there are considerable changes in requirements.
6. Previous experience can help
Previous experience from the projects plays a big role while calculating the estimation time. There is a great chance to prevent all the problems or issues that occurred in previous projects. You can analyze the previous estimation, make conclusion as how it was and if it helped to release the project on time.
7. Mind the extent of projects
Define the end goal of the project and list all final results. Small and large projects are different and consequently the factors that influence them are different. Large projects involve setting up test bed, generating test data, test scripts, etc, which means that the estimation should include all these factors. Yet, in small projects test cycle, as a rule, contain the writing, execution and regression of test cases.
8. Whether you are going to perform load testing or not
If you are going to do load testing, then assign some extra time on performance. Estimation for projects where load testing is involved should be assessed in another way.
9. Team factor
Do you know the strengths and weaknesses of the team you are working with? If yes, you can estimate testing tasks more accurately. Consider also the fact that everyone is working with his own productivity level. Some people perform faster than others. However it is not the main factor, still you should pay attention to it, because it can add up to the overall delay in results.
10. Your advice
This item is left blank on purpose, so that you can add your own advice as to the best estimation techniques in the comments field below.

These pieces of advise could be useful not only for single testers but for the company owners who want to increase their software testing unitís productivity. And no matter if it is software outsourcing company or not, the productivity of software testing groups are important in all the cases.

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