Seeing the Test Case Through the Forest

It is easy to let your regression suite get out of hand. We tend to throw every test case we create in the regression suite. It is a test case dump yard for everything test we create that isn’t in the smoke test. We want to make sure everything works as expected before each release. When we do this long enough, we end up with thousands of test cases.

Before you know it, your regression suite is a forest, when you only need a few trees. There has to be a better way.

A Test Case Forest

I once worked for a company that had thousands of test cases and only manual testing. Did this ensure zero bugs? No, it did not and never could have done that. The regression suite took a month to run and was made up of several thousand obsolete test cases. I worked with the team to create a core regression suite that was relevant for each release, ensuring core functionality of the application and modules. After that was done, we added and removed test cases that were needed to target new functionality.

Targeted regression allowed us to shrink the time it took for regression while focusing on testing application health and new code.

A Test Case Library

Remember that organization is essential for maintenance of your test cases. Test Case Libraries have to be structured in ways to ensure that everyone can find relevant test cases for their project and show testing status. Take care in defining the structure of your test cases library and train your team on how to use it. Otherwise you invite duplication and confusion.

Look for tools that allow you organize, structure, and integrate. While it is easy to build your test cases in a spreadsheet, believe me I have, it is more difficult to track overall progress that way. Yes, you can build reports for your test cases in your spreadsheet, but for a team effort, tracking is more difficult. Transparency is key to success! I also recommend test case management tools that allow me to integrate with JIRA. It is helpful to create a bug directly from the failed test case! When done well, you have a tool that saves time so that you can test more.


Your test suites are like tree and require regular mainteance. Otherwise, they become overgrown and unhealthy. Trimming your test suites should be part of test case maintenance. Helping you identify test cases that need updates or have become obsolete. Using a test case management tool allows you to quickly organize and test your application.

Image credit: Photo by Sven Schlager on Unsplash

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