What is and why have a Test Environment Booking Form?

JULY, 2020 by Diego Gavilanes

Ever since the dawn of time, test environments have been left for the end, which is a headache for the testing team. They might be ready to start testing but can’t because there’s no test environment. And often, the department in charge of it is too busy to give them one.

In this post, we will talk about how you, as a tester or testing leader, can improve your test environment management by adopting a test environment booking form. We will review different aspects of this tool and also share some advice on how to adopt it in the best possible manner.

Let’s get into it!


Understanding a Test Environment Booking Form

A test environment is one of the most important things to take care of when we talk about software quality. And the best way to ensure its availability is to use a test environment booking form.

A test environment booking form is essentially a document that you can use to ask in advance for a test environment. To put it another way, we could compare this to making a hotel room reservation before going on holidays. Making an appointment to go to the doctor would also be a good analogy.

The test environment booking form is where you can indicate all the features you think the test environment should have, such as software and hardware prerequisites and all the necessary settings. You will also use the test environment booking form to specify the date you will need it by and how much time you will use it. In effect, the booking form provides a simple and easy way to submit your request.

You send this document to the corresponding teams of the company, like DevOps or operations support, so that they can build the environment in time and in the agreed way.

Within a test environment booking form, you could specify all the aspects and details to take into account when building the environment, such as the operating system version, browsers, frameworks, tools, RAM memory, and all the needed characteristics.

To be sure you don’t forget anything, you can put these properties as mandatory fields in the booking form. In other words, the form would be a template so that nothing escapes your radar.

The Reason to Have a Test Environment Booking Form

Test environments are not always available when we have to use them, despite the fact that they’re so important. In addition, lots of inconveniences may occur when requesting them. However, you can save yourself some trouble if you incorporate a test environment booking form into your development process.

The major reason to have a test environment booking form is to ensure the availability of test environments in advance. Indeed, this artifact will give you the ability to stay one step ahead.

As an added bonus, you can use it to ask for peculiar and uncommon requests, such as to increase the volume of the database, install an update, or reboot a server.

The booking form will also serve as evidence of what was requested and where the tests were run. Additionally, using a test environment booking form will help you prevent many of the concerns we discuss in the next section.

Overcoming Some Common Issues

Problems like high demand, deadlines, and lack of communication could cause problems when requesting a test environment. To understand this better, let’s see an example of an actual situation.

Imagine you and your team have been working hard on a new version of a software product. In order to complete its development process, the team must execute tests on it. But—as if the time limit and the need to put that version into production without delay were not enough—you don’t have a test environment to let the testers do their work. And worse yet, the final users will run some proof of concept in that same environment to try out new features and become familiar with them. Under those circumstances, having a test environment is a must.

So, you request the test environment from the corresponding sector in the company to get it going as soon as possible, but they have too much work to take care of you right now because of the high demand of the department. In consequence, you cannot have the test environment running on time. That would be very stressful, wouldn’t it?

What’s more, not meeting the deadlines and leaving software quality aside could lead to a loss of clients’ trust.

To repeat what I’ve already said: You can avoid these unnecessary issues by guaranteeing you have the test environment beforehand by using a test environment booking form.

Incorporating a Test Environment Booking Form

Starting to use a test environment booking form in your process is not so complicated, and it could be essential in the development life cycle.

First of all, having a test environment is vital in order to measure quality, mitigate risks, and improve the product. Nobody wants to release critical bugs to production or damage user experience.

Sooner or later, testing experts should test the application in a controlled environment that complies with all the necessary hardware and software prerequisites and configurations. That’s where the testing environment comes into play.

Another key point is that testing time should not be spent on setting up a testing environment but on designing and running all the possible tests on the software.

Some Ideas for Implementation

The test environment booking form could be a webform or a doc file. In fact, it could be whatever you want. The important thing here is that you and your team should be comfortable using and managing it.

So, to incorporate the test environment booking form into your process, you will have to convince the department in charge of raising the environment to adopt it as well. You can share this post with them or just bring up all the key points and problem-solving that we have been talking about to persuade them.

It would be very convenient if the information that the booking form should have was determined by collaborating with the team that will raise the environment. They will probably know better what information they need.

Putting Together the Booking Form

Here, you have some details that might be important to include in your booking form:

  1. Project/product name
  2. Contact info of who is requesting the environment
  3. The date you will need the environment be ready to use
  4. Hardware prerequisites (e.g., RAM, CPU, etc.)
  5. OS version
  6. Database version
  7. System under test version to be installed
  8. Connectivity with other systems
  9. Access configurations (e.g., intranet, internet, DMZ)
  10. Mobile devices
  11. Printers
  12. Browsers
  13. Tools (e.g., an API testing tool)

Next, here’s some advice to achieve a first-class implementation of the test environment booking form. Hopefully you find these tips helpful:

  1. Create a template that contains all the aspects you consider important. Use it as a base each time you and your team request for a test environment.
  2. Use separate and specific fields for each characteristic. It must be precise and exact.
  3. Make sure it is a detailed and understandable form. Everybody should comprehend it easily.
  4. Make it part of your development process, and leave it written in the correspondent document. All the team members should know it.
  5. Define a delivery mechanism with the folks in charge of raising the test environment.

Recommended Best Practices

Here, we provide some good practices to make a healthy use of the test environment booking form:

  • Use it: This may seem obvious, but it’s not. Once you have assembled the form, don’t forget to use it.
  • Include the date: Be sure to add the date the environment will be needed by. This way, the team in charge of preparing it can put it on their schedule.
  • Be clear: The information that you put on the form must be clear.
  • Send it as soon as you know you will need the environment: By sending the form early and scheduling the creation of the environment, you can ensure its existence by the date you need it.
  • Update the template: Maintaining the template is a good way to improve all the environment-request process.
  • Standardize across the company: Share the booking form with other teams in the company. Aligning the organization is very important to strengthen the work process. Also, other teams could help to improve it.

A Few Words to Close

A test environment booking form will always be an excellent inclusion in the working protocols of software development. It’s easy to assimilate, is very useful, and above all helps to improve not only our way of working but also the quality of the software.

So, enhance yourself and your team, strengthen your performance, and save headaches: Adopt a test environment booking form.

Without a doubt, we recommend you incorporate it into your process.

David Gavilanes  This post was written by Diego Gavilanes. Diego is a software quality engineer, testing evangelizer, and passionate explorer that loves agile methodologies, team work, and testing itself. He specializes in web and mobile functional manual testing, and has experience in the automated functional testing field. He’s always looking to provide added value to the software development process whether it’s about testing or not.

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