You might have found yourself suddenly needing to test remotely. Maybe your in-office team is now distributed. Or maybe you’re tapping into a global network of testers for the very first time. 

Remote software testing has its advantages. One of the biggest benefits is that you open up your resource pool to the entire world. Suddenly, your organization is able to access testers in different locations using different devices and environments. 

But remote testing comes with its challenges too. You might not be familiar with conducting testing remotely, and so you might be concerned with how to split up product coverage and how to foster better collaboration amongst your team. You might also be wondering about the benefits of accessing additional remote testers, and how to do this right.  

In this post, we dive into the best practices for remote testing so you can succeed in managing testing in a whole new way.

Managing remote software testing projects

Previously, a QA manager might call a meeting with the on-staff testers to give an overview of the testing project, what new features need to be examined, and what existing product areas could be affected. During the meeting, each tester could gain a high-level understanding of what product areas they were assigned to. 

Then in the test management software, they would be able to see all of their test cases and exploratory prompts.

With remote testing, you no longer have that face to face element. Testers can’t tap on your shoulder at any time. 

This means you have to make sure that everyone’s responsibilities are crystal clear to minimize confusion and task overlap (which can lead to poor test coverage).

Plus, now that companies are shifting to work-from-home and remote work away from HQ, in-house testers lose access to company devices. But not worry, there are ways you can still manage excellent device coverage remotely.

Testlio mindmap for crystal clear remote testing management

Here are some best practices for managing remote testing:

  • Set up your test management platform transparently – Make sure to set up your test management software so that all remote testers involved in the project can see not only the cases assigned to them but also all of the test cases assigned to the entire team. This way, if they spot an issue in someone else’s area of coverage, they can let that person know to investigate it fully. 
  • Pair testers together for complex multi-user features – If you have some testers in the same time zone, it can be helpful to have them testing things congruently, especially for multi-user features like an approval workflow. This saves everyone time and also makes sure that the tests more closely match user behavior. 
  • Use consistent issue reporting guidelines – It’s critical that all testers are using the exact same bug report structure. This will make things not only easier for developers, but testers as well, since they’ll be able to read and search through each other’s work faster.
  • Proactively avoid duplicate issues and work – To lower the amount of duplicate work and duplicate issues, require that all testers include the feature name or product area name in the title of their bug report. This should also be included in the name of the test case. This way, if testers get an idea to test something, they can see if the case is assigned to someone else. If they find a bug, they can see if an issue report already exists before writing a new one. 
  • Rely on expert distributed testers for device coverage – While your in-house team can likely work effectively remotely, there’s still the issue of devices. Consider tapping into a network of testers so you can access not only their talent but dozens or even hundreds of unique devices. 

Facilitating excellent communication and collaboration between testers

When testing remotely, communication and collaboration don’t have to be a challenge unless you allow them to be. Some of the world’s best product teams have either been remote for years or are adapting to it just fine. When it comes to testing, these best practices can help. 

  • Create a dedicated Slack channel for the project – It’s helpful to have a dedicated Slack channel where only testers in that project or cycle are included. 
  • Stick to consistent product language – It’s essential that everyone decide upon the right product language to use before the test cycle begins. Ideally, test cases and bug reports should follow the feature names shown inside of the product and that customers use, but when there’s uncertainty, clear things up with a legend pinned in the Slack channel. 
  • Encourage testers to work together and communicate at any time – Make sure that your remote testers know that they can contact each other. For example, let’s say you assign multiple testers to one complex product area. Later, one of them is assigned to test a function all on their own, but they notice something that they want another tester to check out. They don’t have to get permission from the QA manager to be paired up with that person for this other feature. They can simply ask for help from the tester directly. 

Getting additional testing resources on demand

Now that you’re engaged in remote testing, you don’t have to rely on your internal resources alone. While your in-house team is enormously helpful for test strategy development and test cycle analysis, they may not always be the best suited for every form of testing. 

For example, when it comes to device coverage, localization, and connectivity environments, your in-house team is likely far too small to really provide peace of mind as to the quality of your app. Accessing remote testers from around the world using a burstable strategy can massively impact customer experience.

Testlio testers are skilled on all aspect of localization testing

And even if and when your team returns to the office, your expanded network of remote testers offers faster testing, wider coverage, and localization testing options.

Here are some best practices for working with remote testers on-demand:

  • Look for testing solutions that offer management – Managing a dozen or more remote testers from around the world can be time-consuming. Rather than seek crowdsourced solutions that put the burden in your hands, look for a solution that is fully managed end to end. 
  • Make sure the testers are experienced – You’ll also want to work with testers who are vetted and experienced. It takes time to learn how to find bugs that other people would miss, and testing simply isn’t something that can be outsourced to just anyone. 
  • Check that the languages, locations, and devices you need are covered – If you have certain devices, locations, or languages that matter to your product, make sure that the testing solution can provide adequate coverage of these. 
  • Have remote testers work when you’re not – It’s smart to have remote testers work nights and weekends so that when you return to work, you’ve got test results to action on. This helps you release faster than competitors who are waiting for results. 

Gathering reporting and insights

Your requirements for reporting and insights from remote testing could look different – because you’ll need to make sure that the company you’re working with to manage remote testing is giving you reports that you can utilize. 

When partnering for remote testing make sure you get reports that you can utilize. 

Even if you’re handling remote testing with inhouse resources, most of the following best practices will be relevant. 

  • Get real-time reports on progress – Your test management system might offer real-time reports on testing. These can be enormously helpful when working remotely because you can track the progress of the test cycle. 
  • Check historical reports for problematic areas – You’ll want to regularly pull historical reports and analysis on issues, so you can understand which features are most prone to breakage without guessing. It can also help to know if any remote testers don’t seem to produce as many reports as their colleagues. 
  • When working with remote testing companies, get quality reports – When partnering with a solution for networked testing, you’ll want to make sure that the company delivers quality reports about each test cycle. Otherwise, you’ll only have the bug reports, but no analysis into the breadth and depth of testing or the found issues. 

Remote testing does have its share of challenges. But it offers a lot in terms of testing in a way that resembles real user activity. 

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Testlio provides mobile app testing with a network of expert testers around the world and agile, end-to-end test management.

Dayana is a QA engineer turned technology writer living in Milan, Italy. She's always down for a smoothie.
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