It Is Not How Much It Costs But It Is What It Saves: Return on Investment and Budget
The work breakdown structure and work schedule help us understand how much time and resources are required to carry out a test sub-project covering all the risks identified earlier in the quality risk analysis. However, we have to consider another important aspect while estimating the test effort – the financial one. At this stage of the cost estimation process, we will discuss how one can build, based on the work breakdown structure, a budget that corresponds to the financial constraints of the project. Armed with the schedule and the budget, we will have an overall estimate, which can be used as an initial proposal to management.
While discussing the scope of a test project with management, the employees often have to agree with cuts in the test project scope. (This means that testing will cover fewer risks to system quality or cover the risks that will be tested less comprehensively or combination of both of those.) Reduction in the testing scope will continue until the project management team and test manager move from the discussion of what they need to test to what they can actually test within the boundaries of the project context. A properly conducted risk analysis usually helps the project management team to make risk-driven intelligent cuts in the scope of testing.
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Of course, we want to be sure that during the discussion of the feasible schedule and budget, we do not fail to promulgate adequate testing. Choosing the right set of tests for a particular project is not only a technical task; it is also a business and political process. We need to convincingly explain why we think that certain tests are important to tackle the critical quality risks, and why the resources we intend to spend on testing each risk are used correctly. Fortunately, the budget preparation process also allows testers to estimate the return on investment in testing. There are several methods that are convenient for this purpose. Such calculations of return on investment, although somewhat rude, contribute to advocating the most thorough and intelligent testing effort that the project can provide.