Even before Covid, there was a trend to distributed software development and software testing teams. In this article, we are going to list some tools that can be useful for distributed software testing teams.
Author: Franco Martinig
There are multiple existing sources about tools for distributed software development teams or remote working. In this article, we will focus on free or inexpensive tools that are available to small distributed software testing teams that operate outside a major organizational framework. We do not discuss the tools needed for testing which depend on the target to be tested (mobile app, website, API), but rather the tools that distributed software testers will use to communicate or plan and perform the test activities.
You could naturally rent your own space on the web and install some open-source tools, but we will limit the scope to tools that teams can quickly use without having to spend a lot of time and efforts for installation and configuration.
Besides the traditional email communication, distributed software testing teams can also need to use other tools for real-time messaging, chat, or video conferencing. For instant messaging or continuous conversations, Discord, Slack, Rocket Chat, Mattermost, Bitrix24 or Chanty are the best know tools that are available for free.
If all team members use Gmail, Google Chat and Google Meet can also be options. Microsoft Teams has also a free option with limited features that can be used by small teams for chat, videoconferencing and document sharing.
People working in a public Wi-Fi setting like a co-working office will secure their communication using a VPN for PC tool. A Virtual Private Network is an application you install on your computer. As soon as you connect to VPN servers, software encrypts your internet traffic and hides your IP address.
Thus, people get to protect both their personal and corporate activities and file exchanges. Make it a rule to activate such security software before working on your assignments.
Documentation sharing and management
Distributed software testing teams can use some of the famous cloud file storage and sharing systems like Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. These tools allow easily having a single shared point for document storing in the Cloud, with defined authorizations and ownership.
Some of the team communication tools described above like Microsoft Teams, Bitrix24 and Mattermost also offer file sharing and document management features if your team is looking for an integrated solution.
Distributed software testers need to have a common place to define and monitor the tasks that are needed to achieve the test activities. There are many project management tools available, but most of them will be bloated with features that a small team of software testers doesn’t need.
I would recommend using a Trello-like online task management system or a free online Kanban tool that offer a simple visual way to plan and manage progress of activities with a board. Team members will be able to define the tasks, assign them to people and move the tasks between the board columns that represent their status, from planned to complete.
The main options for simple task definition and management with free accounts are Trello, Airtable, Teamwork, Pipefy or MeisterTask. In the Kanban tool category, many have free plans for small teams, often with limited features. In the trusted players of this category, you can place KanbanFlow, YouTrack, Taiga or ClickUp.
The goal of software testing is to find bugs, to describe them and monitor their evolution. A shared bug tracking tool should provide the team a way to define and manage its own bug workflow. Ideally, the tool will also have a way to communicate to the team members when certain changes happen for a bug. There are some online bug tracking tools that offer free plans like Bugasura, Instabug, Jira and Zoho,
Distributed software testing teams can use existing tools to communicate, plan and monitor their tasks or manage the bugs. Many of these tools can be free to use, even if with some limitations, and are readily available, without the hassle of having to install and maintain their own solution. The criterion to choose them should be their features, the prior existing knowledge of tools by team members and if they prefer integrated solutions or separate tools.
Software Testing in Distributed Teams
Distributed Testing Teams: The Challenge of Working with Distributed Testing Teams and Performing a High-Quality Work (PDF)
Distributed Quality Assurance: How to Manage QA Teams Around the World to Cooperate Successfully on a Single project