Managed Testing Maynooth University

Case Study - Maynooth University


Maynooth University

Maynooth University (MU) was initially established as the Royal College of St. Patrick in 1795 and became an autonomous university in 1997. A diverse range of courses within the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, computer science and electronic engineering, business and law are offered by MU which also has an international reputation in research activities.


MU Structure


MU has grown rapidly in recent years and currently has more than eleven thousand students, and eight hundred staff, from more than twenty countries. MU has a strategic development plan for 2012 - 2017 which includes enhancements at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, focussed investment in research and deeper engagement with enterprise and the community. MU are implementing a new IT system to be used during the registration of students for academic year commencing in 2017. The IT system must be able to handle the peak registration times primarily in September and in January.

Testing Context and Overview

Test Triangle adheres to best practise regarding application lifecycle management (ALM) as it applies to the Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC) within a waterfall or iterative approach with the test process being managed within an agreed test strategy and plan. Within STLC a set of pre-defined steps are followed which typically are requirements analysis, test planning, testcase or test code development, test environment setup, test suite execution and close-out. Each step is generally not started until the prior step is complete.

During requirements analysis test requirements are reviewed to determine what features will be tested and what is required to execute that testing. At this stage poorly defined or missing requirements are identified and clarified with the development team and business analysts. During test planning the type of testing resources, environmental setup and/or required tooling, test schedules, team roles and responsibilities and the entry, suspend and exit criteria are defined. These may be captured in a test strategy and/or test plan document.


Test Planning


The creation of manual testcases and/or automation test scripts and any required test data can commence at this point. Setting up the required test environment(s) can occur at the same time as testcase creation and some basic testcases executed to verify the functionality of the environment. During the testcase execution step any failures will be reported on the agreed defect management system and linked to the associated testcase for re-test after a fix is available. A requirement matrix is typically then created which maps testcases to business requirements and used to identify coverage issues, with respect to documented features to be tested, within the current test suite.

Within an Agile approach a set of functional features are delivered at the end of each iteration (sprint). Within this approach testing is not a separate step but is viewed as a part of the software development process in addition to the actual product code creation. An advantage over the traditional waterfall approach is that the testing team can get early access to functional features which can then be tested which provides pro-active feedback on the quality of the code. Agile testing also focuses on detecting early defects which lowers associated costs. Test Triangle have extensive applied experience in working with local teams to support this approach.

With the knowledge gained through testing, the testers can also demonstrate features to stakeholders such as product owners and assist in collecting feedback which can be passed back to development. Test Triangle also has extensive experience in this type of collaboration.

The ISTQB (International Software Testing Qualifications Board) is an internationally recognised software testing standard and qualification (with over 350,000 testers certified to date). The examination verifies the tester's theoretical knowledge of software testing. All Test Triangle testers are ISTQB certified to Foundation level with some of our testers additionally certified to Advanced levels.


ISTQB Foundation


Testing Services for MU

MU are implementing a new IT system to be used during the registration of students for academic year 2017. The IT system must be able to handle the peak registration times primarily in September and also in January. MU engaged Test Triangle to provide a range of testing services including manual and automation testing, the management and implementation of a testcase and issue/bug management system, assistance in optimising communication between the test, development team and local support/technical teams. During the planning phase the scope and range of testing was sized, the required test environments were clarified, and any tooling (such as SilkTest) and associated costs were identified. Areas such as the test schedules, team roles and responsibilities and entry, suspend and exit criteria were also defined. A traceability matrix on Confluence was used to assess test coverage per project phase with respect to the PRDs.

Test Triangle is an official partner for Atlassian in Ireland with extensive applied knowledge across the product range. After demonstrating the capabilities and relevance of the tools to MU it was agreed that JIRA would be used for task and issue management within the project, with the Zephyr plugin being used for testcase management and Confluence used for collaboration and providing a ‘single version of the truth’. Test Triangle provided training, free of charge, on the selected tools to development and local support teams to ensure that all team members came up to speed quickly on correct tool usage. This ensured that the maximum benefit from an integrated toolset could be leveraged within the project where for example project tasks within JIRA can be linked to Zephyr testcases (with execution results being immediately available in JIRA) and JIRA bugs can reference associated development code versions with anticipated code patches.

Test Triangle’s on-site team was required to gain a comprehensive understanding of the application which was greatly assisted by the use of these tools which ensured timely and effective communication in line with best practise for a complex testing project. In order to gain the required level of understanding the test team referred to available documentation, applied exploratory testing and conducted reviews with local and remote domain experts. The testing involved business rule validation in a complex system, backend data validation using Oracle Forms to access data in the Oracle database and extensive front-end testing on the registration portal on all commonly used browsers such as IE, Chrome, Firefox and Safari.

In addition to manual testing, the test team also created a suite of automation scripts which were used during regression testing and involved both student user stories, on the front-end Portal, and administrator user stories on the back-end of the application. The automation scripts were created with SilkTest and documentation and training on their structure, management and execution was provided to the MU team. On-going maintenance of the automation testsuite was also provided by Test Triangle with the automation tester updating the business logic within the scripts as required. A requirements matrix was created on Confluence providing full transparency on the current state of testing for each phase of the project.


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