As business-dedicated applications and enterprise solutions have become a necessity, quality assurance has gained all the significance. From the deployment of high-performing solutions to creating a glitch-free experience, effective testing creates scope for highly optimized products.  

And therefore, the organizations investing in technology are quickly aligning themselves to advanced practices like a shift-left approach and continuous testing to yield the quality that sustains.  

However, quality assurance is a tricky process that needs testers and developers to go through dynamic assumptions and dependencies that might affect the ultimate validity of a product.  

Thus, when it comes to achieving the highest level of accuracy, it becomes crucial to establish a dedicated test environment that aligns well with real-life conditions. Since taking on such objectives demands the right planning and execution, here comes the role of software testing service providers who has all the expertise in handling TEM (test environment management).  

But before, we begin with all the essential factors that could yield effective test environment management, let us dig into some detail surrounding the test environment, the need for test environment management (TEM), and the elements that contribute to a successful test environment strategy and execution.  

What Is Test Environment & Why Is It So Important? 

To define, a test environment is a virtual space where testing is performed. It includes server, hardware, and software configurations which even involve a clear definition of automation frameworks, browsers, devices, operating systems, etc. 

 

A test environment is defined early in the development lifecycle to ensure more precise releases and yield identical output for each time tests are run. More importantly, test environments are a replica of real-world scenarios which means the software testers can locate all the bugs that are likely to occur with end-users.  

Why Test Environment Management (TEM)? 

Basically, test environment management is done to yield a stable environment that contains the most usable database, hardware, software, and networking elements that could complement progressive test scenario execution and bug identification.  

According to a study by IBM, the cost of fixing a defect found during the implementation phase is 15 times higher than fixing the same defect during the requirements or design phase. This emphasizes the importance of early detection and prevention through effective QA practices. In other words, Test Environment Management (TEM) serves as a backbone of the software testing lifecycle that allows smooth operation throughout with reduced risk of failures and unwanted expenses.  

TEM or Test Environment Management is more a planned strategy that could deliver massive productivity with significant savings on costs and releases. With that being said, let us quickly discuss all the elements that made up a successful test environment while learning the steps to a solid test environment management strategy. 

Elements Of Test Environment 

A test environment checklist helps ensure that all necessary components and configurations are in place before starting software testing. A comprehensive test environment checklist needs to focus at: 

1.  Hardware and Infrastructure: 

  • Verify that the necessary hardware resources (servers, workstations, networking equipment) are available and properly configured. 

  • Ensure sufficient storage capacity for test data and artifacts. 

  • Check network connectivity and accessibility between various components of the test environment. 

  • Validate the availability and stability of required peripherals (printers, scanners, etc.), if applicable.

2. Software and Tools: 

  • Install and configure the operating systems required for testing. 

  • Set up and verify the installation of development tools, test management tools, test automation frameworks, and any other testing-specific software. 

  • Validate the installation and configuration of browsers, databases, server software, and any other necessary software components. 

  • Check for compatibility and version requirements of all software tools and components. 

3. Test Data: 

  • Create or obtain representative and diverse test data sets for test data management. 

  • Ensure the test data covers various scenarios, including valid, invalid, and boundary conditions. 

Ever wondered how to handle massive test data to gain all the productivity? 

Read Here: Managing Software Testing Data For Added Productivity 

  • Validate that the test data is properly formatted and loaded into the appropriate databases or file systems. 

  • Implement data masking or anonymization techniques if sensitive data is involved. 

4. Configuration Management: 

  • Verify that the test environment configurations match the desired specifications. 

  • Document and track all configuration items, including hardware, software versions, patches, and settings. 

  • Implement version control for software, scripts, and test data. 

  • Ensure the availability of necessary configuration files, environment variables, and system settings. 

5. User Access and Permissions: 

  • Set up user accounts and roles with appropriate access levels for testers, developers, administrators, and other stakeholders. 

  • Validate that user access permissions are correctly assigned to ensure secure and controlled access to the test environment. 

6. Security: 

  • Assess and implement necessary security measures, including firewalls, antivirus software, encryption, and access controls. 

  • Verify that security patches and updates are applied to all relevant components. 

  • Conduct security testing solutions to identify vulnerabilities and ensure a secure test environment. 

7. Documentation and Communication: 

  • Create documentation that outlines the setup, configurations, and usage instructions for the test environment. 

  • Communicate the availability, limitations, and scheduling requirements of the test environment to all stakeholders. 

  • Establish clear communication channels for reporting issues, requesting changes, and sharing updates related to the test environment. 

8. Monitoring and Maintenance: 

  • Implement monitoring tools to track the health, performance, and utilization of the test environment. 

  • Define maintenance procedures to ensure the environment remains in a stable state, including regular updates, backups, and system checks. 

  • Regularly review and update the test environment checklist to reflect any changes or improvements. 

Once you are done working through your test environment checklist, you are halfway done with your test environment setup. Besides, achieving long-term success needs you to work over a solid test environment management strategy containing the right configuration for an efficient software test plan. 

5 Steps To A Solid Test Environment Management Strategy 

Creating a solid test environment management strategy is crucial for efficient and effective software testing. Here are five steps to help you establish a robust test environment management strategy: 

1. Identify Test Environment Requirements:  

Start by understanding the specific needs of your testing projects. Identify the types of test environments required, such as development, integration, staging, and production environments. Determine the hardware, software, and network configurations needed for each environment. Consider factors like operating systems, databases, browsers, and other dependencies required to replicate the production environment accurately. 

2. Establish Test Environment Setup and Configuration Processes 

Define standardized processes for setting up and configuring test environments. This includes installing the required software, configuring network settings, and replicating production-like conditions. Consider using automation tools or scripts to streamline this process and ensure consistency across environments. Document the steps involved, including any prerequisite dependencies or configurations. 

3. Implement Environment Reservation and Scheduling 

To prevent conflicts and ensure availability, implement a reservation and scheduling system for test environments. This allows teams to reserve specific environments for their testing activities. Utilize a centralized tool or platform where team members can view the availability of different environments, make reservations, and release them once testing is complete. This ensures efficient utilization of resources and reduces conflicts between teams. 

4. Manage Test Data 

Effective test data management is essential for accurate and comprehensive testing. Define processes for managing test data, including how to create, refresh, and secure test datasets. Ensure that the data used in testing is representative of real-world scenarios and covers various use cases. Consider using data masking or anonymization techniques for test data management to protect sensitive information. 

5. Monitor and Maintain Environments 

Regularly monitor the health and performance of your test environments. Implement monitoring tools to track resource usage, detect bottlenecks, and identify potential issues. Set up alert mechanisms to notify the appropriate teams when an environment is experiencing problems. Establish a maintenance schedule to perform regular updates, patches, and cleanup activities. It's important to ensure that environments are always in a stable and reliable state for testing. 

Roles & Responsibilities Of A Test Environment Management Team 

From provisioning to governance, the test environment management team undergoes several tasks that can help streamline the process to test environment management. Usually, Test environment manager asks their team to work on following factors: 

  • Provisioning: Setting up and configuring test environments, ensuring they match the required specifications and configurations for testing. 

  • Monitoring: Monitoring the health and availability of test environments, identifying and resolving any issues that may impact testing activities. 

  • Planning: Collaborating with project teams to understand testing requirements, scheduling and coordinating the allocation of test environments based on project priorities. 

  • Maintenance: Ensuring the cleanliness and stability of test environments by performing regular cleanup activities, managing data refreshes, and applying necessary patches and updates. 

  • Governance: Establishing and enforcing guidelines, policies, and processes for the proper utilization, security, and access control of test environments, ensuring compliance with organizational standards and regulations. 

How Test Environment Management Could Benefit Business Organizations? 

Test Environment Management can greatly benefit business organizations. Integrating TEM into the operational model ensures the availability and stability of test environments, enabling efficient software testing. Ultimately it helps to reduce downtime and improves product quality that complements faster time-to-market.  

Besides, test environment management allows for better resource utilization by optimizing the allocation of hardware, software, and infrastructure. This reduces costs and increases productivity.  

Above all, it helps in identifying and resolving issues early in the development cycle, minimizing the risk of failures in the production environment. Overall, effective test environment management enhances the reliability, scalability, and performance of software systems, ultimately leading to increased customer satisfaction and competitive advantage for businesses. 

Find Out How Testing Can Mitigate Risks In Production Stage?  

Read The Blog: Risks In Software Delivery & How Testing In Production Works As Aid? 

Summing It Up 

The test environment in software testing is the key to successful deliveries. When you have a well-defined test environment with the right selection of test tools and test suites, it helps you yield quality products at greater speed.  

On the contrary, the inability to work on the right setup could cost you delays and potential loss of results. Thus, it is necessary that clear goals are established on the automation setup, standardized configurations, security, and of course maintenance.  

Good Luck! 

At BugRaptors, we bring you a team of ISTQB-certified testers who can complement you with a comprehensive test plan for creating, organizing, and executing test cases. From report generation to improving the process, we help you with dedicated support on all your testing needs. 

In case you are struggling with test environment management goals, feel free to contact our team for bespoke test solutions.  

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Rajeev Verma

Rajeev works as Project Manager at BugRaptors. He is working on several Web Application , Network Vulnerability assessments, Mobile Application , Secure Network Architecture reviews. He has knowledge in various automated and manual security testing methodologies. He has also frequently coordinated with stakeholders as an on-site resource to assist them in discovering security loopholes and fixing the identified issues.

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