What is the Best Test estimation technique?

Testing Estimation is a managerial chore, which assesses the completion time of any task. For efficient test management, it is one of the primary tasks to estimate the effort required for the test in test estimation. In other words, test estimation includes evaluation of the required resources to carry out a task, time required for its completion, reckoning skills and experience of team members and the project budget.

Test Estimation Techniques

Function Point Analysis:It is one of the top-down techniques, which is formulae-based. The idea was to develop a mechanism to anticipate effort, resources and budget linked with the software. Function Point can be used to determine the productivity accurately as it is a formulae-based technique. Function points can be calculated by using five major components namely the External Input, External O/P, External Enquiry, Internal Logical Files and External Interface files, along with 14 General System Characteristics or GSC’s. The result of the analysis is same even when carried out at different times by different user with a marginal error. Function Point Analysis has been automated in AFP or Automated Function Points through which FP’s can be determined automatically without manual effort and analysis can be done easily. FPA typically used for development. It has been extended for Testing. However, it is restricted to system functional testing.

Test Points Analysis(TPA): It is one of the top-down techniques. The idea was to develop a mechanism to anticipate effort, resources and budget linked with the software. TPA is developed based on Functional point methodology. It is also recommended to use FP counting. However, the user is free to any of kind of counting mechanism that are widely accepted in the industry. It is also seen that some of the testing shop arrived their own counting mechanism for functional and non-functional category.

TPA basically depends upon three factors:

Size which determines the count of Function Points allocated to the system. Size then depends upon various other sub factors like Complexity, Interfacing and Uniformity. Complexity keeps a check on number of conditional statements within a function. More conditions account for greater complexity. Interfacing keeps a track of data set communication, i.e account of number of data sets within a function and number of functions using a particular data set. Uniformity verifies the number of similar template functions.

-Productivity is based on two important factors – Background factors that includes the backstage workers of a system like test environments, tools etc, which are hidden but equally important for smooth functioning of the software; and Productivity figure which is estimation and calculation of virtual factors like knowledge of the team members, the number of experienced members in the team etc.

Test strategy, which depends upon Usage Importance and Usage Intensity of a function.

Wideband Delphi Technique:It is a group expert estimation technique. In this technique, the consensus is reached by brainstorming and negotiations. Wideband Delphi Technique is the successor of Boehm’s Delphi technique. This technique involves the following steps:

Selection of Team

– Kickoff Meeting which involves brainstorming between the members

– Individual Estimation Preparation

– Estimation Session, which involves iterative brainstorming session over the individual estimates, especially if the range of estimates is too wide,until the team brings it down to a decent range of estimate.

– Compilation of the final decision

– Review of results

Considerations during Estimation

General features to be essentially considered during Estimation:

  • Bug Cycle should be included as a possible hitch to cope up with any testing delays.
  • Buffer Time should be included as contingency for delay.
  • Performance Load Testing should be given its quota of time for execution.
  • Check if Parallel Testing is possible or not, especially in cases where you have earlier versions of same product to which you can compare the output.
  • Resting effort
  • Scope of projects and all the final deliverables should be duly considered.
  • Proper Documentation for future references should be done.

Based on the facts and research, except TPA all other estimation techniquies focus to arrive overall development effort including Testing. Every estimation has its own advantages and disadvantages. But TPA looks promising in the terms of accuracy even though it is complex and not used widely. Hopefully in coming days this technique would be adopted widely and best practices would be developed around TPA to minimize the complexity.

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