Software Test Estimation Techniques Simplified


Software Test Estimation Techniques




What is Software Test Estimation?


Software test estimation is a critical activity in the testing process that involves determining the size, effort, and cost of a testing project. Accurate test estimation is essential to ensure successful project completion in an organization. In this article, we will explore various test estimation techniques used in agile and waterfall methodologies to facilitate effective project management.


Factors Influencing Software Test Estimation


The scope of testing in projects is defined based on various factors, such as requirements, functionalities, use cases, and test cases. Test effort estimation plays a crucial role in determining the human resources needed and associated costs. Efforts can be expressed in hours or person-days, providing valuable information for resource allocation and budgeting. The responsibility for software test estimation typically lies with the test architect or test manager for larger projects. However, for smaller projects with fewer than 10 requirements or change requests, a test lead or test analyst may take on the responsibility.


Importance of Accurate Test Estimation


Accurate test estimation is of utmost importance as incorrect estimates can lead to inefficient use of testing resources, late project delivery, and insufficient budget allocation. Moreover, inaccurate estimates can result in incorrect decisions that ultimately impact the project’s success. To provide accurate estimates, it is crucial to gather and analyze all available information and data. This enables the identification of potential risks and the development of a realistic plan that ensures successful project completion.

Continuous Monitoring and Updating of Effort Estimates


Estimation accuracy improves as more knowledge about the project is gathered during its lifecycle. In the initial stages, there may be limited information available regarding the scope of testing, required resources, and overall cost. However, as the project progresses, more information is obtained, allowing estimation revisions. This ongoing process of estimation requires continuous monitoring and updating. Test managers can refine estimates as more information becomes available, making them more accurate.


For example, if unexpected issues arise during the testing process, the test manager can update the estimate to include additional effort and resources required to address those issues. Similarly, if there are changes in the scope of testing or the project timeline, the estimate can be adjusted accordingly. Continuous monitoring and updating ensure that the estimation remains aligned with the evolving project requirements.


What is the difference between effort and duration?


Effort and duration are two essential concepts in test estimation. Effort refers to the amount of work required to complete a task, while duration represents the time needed for task completion. Understanding the difference between these concepts is crucial in the estimation process for testing projects. Let’s consider an example related to an E-Commerce Testing project.


Infrastructure Director: “We need to complete the migration to the cloud three months from now. Will your team be able to complete the testing in a month?”


Test Manager: “Let me take a day to make a determination.”


Test Manager (after estimating): “It will take six weeks to complete the testing.”


Infrastructure Director: “That’s longer than the time we have. Can you complete it in a month?”


Test Manager: “I’m sorry for the confusion. The six weeks I mentioned is the duration it will take to complete the testing process. I should have clarified that the effort required to complete the testing is a certain number of hours or person-days. With the resources available, it will take approximately six weeks of duration rather than four weeks to perform the testing. However, I can give you an accurate estimate of the effort required if you would like.”


Infrastructure Director: “Yes, please do. I need to ensure we allocate the right resources and budget to complete the testing process accurately.”


Consideration of Factors Affecting Testing Effort and Duration


When estimating effort and duration, it is essential to consider various factors that may impact the testing process. Dependencies lag among different activities, and waiting times are factors that can affect the duration. For example, waiting for paint to dry between each coat in a house painting project may increase the duration. It is crucial to account for these factors to provide accurate estimations of effort and duration. While mathematically possible to complete a task in the shortest possible time by engaging a large number of resources, it may not always be practical or feasible.



In conclusion, test estimation is a critical activity in software testing that determines the size, effort, and cost of the testing process. Accurate estimation is vital for ensuring successful project completion. By defining the scope of testing, considering various factors in cost determination, continuously monitoring and updating estimates, and understanding the difference between effort and duration, project managers can ensure estimation accuracy. This facilitates the identification of potential risks and the development of a realistic plan, ultimately ensuring the successful completion of testing projects.