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4 reasons why Excel is putting your testing at risk

Dee Howard
2 October 19 Jira
4 reasons why Excel is putting your testing at risk
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4 reasons why Excel is putting your testing at risk

It’s easy to see why a lot of organisations still rely on Excel for testing. For starters, it’s ‘free’ (well, if you have Microsoft Office) and you can spin up a simple spreadsheet with little or no experience. Seems a no brainer, right? 


The problem is Excel was never designed for Test Management. It lacks critical features needed for safe, secure, and effective testing.

So let's take a closer look at some of the risks of using Excel for testing. And why it’s time you switched to a more secure, scalable and reliable Test Management Solution. You won’t regret it.

#1 Excel is unreliable

Excel is error-prone and unreliable. Even small spreadsheet mistakes can have a catastrophic impact on revenue and reputation. Take TransAlta for example, who lost a whopping $24 million due to a copy-paste error. And MI5, who through a simple formatting mistake inadvertently bugged 1000+ phones in error. Yikes!

In today's fast-paced, data-driven world, there’s little margin (or forgiveness) for error. Unfortunately, if you use Excel for testing, errors and oversights are unavoidable.

What's the risk to your business?

It stands to reason that if your test data is flawed, your decision-making will be flawed too. You may miss critical testing bugs and issues that affect product quality. Or you may make assumptions that prove to be wrong and impact product performance.

#2 Excel has zero scalability

With Excel, you have zero scalability. Picture the scene, you start off creating a few simple spreadsheets to store your test cases. What could possibly go wrong? 

Turns out, a lot!

The problem is as your requirements grow and change, so do your test cases. On top of this, you'll be storing all your executions, new test case versions, and test data across many spreadsheets. And before you know it, you're in Excel hell. Juggling hundreds (even thousands) of test cases across an endless array of spreadsheets.

What's the risk to your business?

As your business scales, Excel becomes a serious bottleneck. The more test data you create and store in Excel the harder it becomes to manage. Updating and managing test data across spreadsheets becomes an endless, time-consuming, and error-prone nightmare.

#3 Excel has poor traceability

Linking tests back to requirements, and executions to bugs is a daily exercise for any QA team. It helps ensure requirements are covered and you can resolve critical bugs early. The problem is traceability between cells in Excel is inadequate as it is, let alone bringing other development tools into the picture. 

What's the risk to your business?

Buggy releases are inevitable without full test traceability. For starters, you can’t link requirements to test cases to ensure complete coverage. Or trace defects to executions to keep track of issues impacting tests. Without a clear picture, you can't guarantee all requirements are covered, and your product is safe to release.

#4 Excel is not secure

Many teams are part of the testing process.  So having clear standards and security permissions in place is essential. Especially for highly-regulated organisations. 

Other than assigning basic read/review/edit access, you can't put in place any user or group level restrictions in Excel. And when it comes to testing standards, there are no configurations or settings in Excel to help enforce them.

Change logs during testing help verify everything is running as expected. With Excel, there's no audit trail (change history), making it difficult to identify when risky activity is taking place.

What's the risk to your business?

Without a history of changes, or defined permissions for users you have no control over what can happen within a project. And no way to validate what’s happened when things go wrong. Again, without clear standards, you have zero consistency across projects. Which makes organising and reporting on your data a nightmare!

Great products start with great testing

Testing is a critical component of developing great products. But using inadequate tools, like Excel, opens your business up to a host of unnecessary risks. Why compromise the quality of your testing and your products by using the wrong tool for the job?

Ready to quit Excel but unsure of a better alternative?

Adaptavist Test Management for Jira (TM4J) manages all your testing needs end-to-end.

It scales with your business and helps you track and organise test cases across all your Jira projects. Storing all your tests in a neat, easy-to-access folder system.

  • Avoid costly errors - and save time by sharing test cases across projects and reusing test steps.
  • Improve visibility - with access to 70+ reports on test coverage, progress, and defects raised from testing.
  • Enjoy seamless traceability - through native integration with Jira. Giving you complete visibility between test cases, requirements, executions, and defects.
  • Take back control - with permissions and custom configurations for each project. Easily view the change history of test assets for hassle-free auditing. 

Install in just 3 simple steps…

  • Install TM4J within your Jira instance (here)
  • Enable TM4J for your Jira project
  • Upload test cases from Excel via our in-app importer

Once installed, you can immediately start to add your test cases to cycles, and executing them within TM4J’s test player. Using TM4J requires minimal training. But just in case, everything you need to know is available in our documentation here

Want to quit Excel for good?

Start your free trial now:

If you haven’t tried using Test Management for Jira (TM4J) yet, get a 30-day free trial here:  

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