By ISTQB definition, Test Control:
A test management task that deals with developing and applying a set of corrective actions to get a test project on track when monitoring shows a deviation from what was planned.
Test control is an activity that should be considered and outlined by a Test Manager, or even a Test Lead.
The ISTQB definition of test control is quite transparent, and one of the first discussions about test control will feature in the test strategy that’s created specifically for the project. The strategy prose relating to test control needs to address the risk surrounding test execution and account for regular meetings to maintain control of all test activities within the project.
There may even be occasions in the project – unavoidable or not – where contingency actions need to be in place to protect both test effort and also the stature of a system to date. Corrective planning is absolutely a part of test control. I mean, we hope we don’t have to exercise that part of the plan, but a contingency approach needs to considered thoroughly and included under the Test Control heading.
When building your contingency and general action plans for test control, as a Test Manager, one sensible consideration is to call regular meetings with the test team to maintain transparency during test execution. These can be held on a daily basis, or even 2-3 times a week – but remember, Test Managers need to have their finger on the pulse during execution to understand project progress and level of control here. Another consideration would be host weekly meetings with key project stakeholders to keep them abreast with the execution burn-down metrics and any challenges the test team might face.
It’s important to remember that test control isn’t a one-time thing. It’s an evolving process that needs to be revised and reviewed regularly for the best output holistically.
Test control is particularly useful when immovable release deadlines are presented and a Test Manager has to reevaluate their approach and priority when it comes to testing. There’s one, single example but they are plentiful.
Remember, the challenge is never the problem itself, it’s how you adapt to it. If prevention isn’t a possibility, plan well to detect defects early.