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How to Write & Manage
Test Cases in Jira

By Dennis Gurock
12 min read
How to Write & Manage Test Cases in Jira

Are you wondering about the best ways to write and manage test cases in Jira? In this guide we will look at the three most popular options on how to write your test cases in Jira. You can then decide on the best option for your team & your projects and start writing your test cases with Jira.

In addition to writing test cases, the explained options also allow you to enter test results, track your testing progress, work with test automation and generate reports for your quality assurance team or clients. So let's get started!

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Option 1: Using Jira Issues for Test Cases

This first option is what many teams start with and try first. With this approach you are using Jira issues and custom Jira issue types with custom fields for test cases and for test results. You start by adding a new issue type, e.g. Test case, and add a couple of relevant custom fields. For example, you could add a custom text field called Test steps and another field called Expected results. You then add a new issue for each test case.

Writing test cases in Jira using custom issue types

To enter test results for test cases, you would then add another sub-task issue type, e.g. called Test result. Every time you execute your test case (or plan to execute it), you can simply add another test result sub-task. This allows you to quickly see the results for a specific test case from the test case's issue page.

The advantage of this option is that you do not need another tool other than Jira, as you can configure the issue types and fields with Jira's built-in features. This is also where the advantages of this option end, as this approach doesn't make it easy to manage your test cases or track your test results. If you do not want to or cannot use one of the other options explained below, we would recommend using Google Spreadsheet or Excel for your test cases instead, as this Jira option is unlikely to work even for teams with basic very basic needs.

This option is best for: This option is not recommended for any team. Either use one of the other options below, or use a basic spreadsheet with Excel or Google Docs instead.

Pros & advantages:

✅   No need for another tool, you only use features already built into Jira
✅   Free or already paid via Atlassian Jira subscription

Cons & drawbacks:

❌   Only very basic features & no way to structure your test cases
❌   Cannot use even basic testing workflows or reuse test cases
❌   No test management reporting, metrics or relevant charts
❌   No support for test automation or exploratory testing

Option 2: Basic Jira Testing Marketplace Apps

Another option is to use one of the many Jira marketplace apps for test management to write test cases in Jira. These apps extend Jira's functionality and use a mix of custom Jira issue types and fields (like option #1), plus some additional custom field types, reports and sometimes APIs. They make it easy to get started with basic test case management and can be useful for teams new to software testing to manage everything inside Jira.

The main problem with marketplace apps that use Jira issues for test case management is that they are heavily limited by the way Jira issues work. For development tasks, feature stories and bug reporting, Jira issues provide a good level of maintainability and structure. For test cases and results, you need to be able to group test cases by functionality (e.g. via folders), maintain a specific order of your tests (so testers can work through the tests in the right order faster), easily start & reuse test runs, and quickly view your test results at a glance. Jira issues aren't built to provide and support such basic & important testing features, making it difficult to use issues for larger testing efforts.

The Atlassian Marketplace offers many Jira apps, including basic test management apps

Nonetheless, if your team is just getting started with testing and you do not have a dedicated testing team, then using this option can be a good initial approach. Just be aware that you might need to switch to a dedicated test management tool once your team grows and once you get more serious about test management. Another caveat is that you always need to buy these apps for your entire team, even if only a small number of users need it (this is an Atlassian policy for all paid Jira apps). This can make it more costly to buy such basic apps even compared to full-featured dedicated test management tools. You can also review our list of the best Jira test management tools, which features both full and Jira-only apps.

This option is best for: Teams with very basic needs without dedicated testers or QA engineers can use this option to write test cases in Jira. Larger teams or teams with dedicated testers benefit from more scalable tools.

Pros & advantages:

✅   Apps automatically add & configure Jira issue types & fields for you
✅   Provide additional custom field types optimized for test results
✅   Embeds inside Jira so everything is handled through the same interface
✅   Offer additional APIs so you can build your own test automation integrations

Cons & drawbacks:

❌   You always need to buy apps for all Jira users, even if they do not use it
❌   Only very limited test case management features; limited reporting & metrics
❌   No support to structure your test cases; limited by Jira issues
❌   Cannot use integrations with other tools such as GitHub, GitLab etc.
❌   Intransparent hosting with external vendor (your data is stored outside of Jira/Atlassian without your team likely realizing it)

Option 3: Full Test Management with Jira

Many testing & QA teams use a dedicated, full test management tool and integrate it with Jira. This hybrid approach often provides a good combination of features, tester productivity, reporting & metrics and scalability. This also allows you to integrate test automation, CI pipelines, work with multiple Jira instances or even integrate other systems your team might use, such as GitHub and GitLab.

Full test management to track manual, exploratory & automated tests (here: Testmo)

When reviewing and selecting a full test management tool, you should also take a look at the Jira test management integration provided by the tool. Just because you are using a full test management tool doesn't mean that you cannot quickly create Jira issues or even view linked test cases and results inside Jira. Typically, good test management tools provide rich Jira integration:

  • Directly create Jira issues from your test management tool during testing
  • Reference Jira issues from test results, test cases, runs, exploratory sessions & more
  • Look up the status of linked Jira issues inside the test management tool in real-time
  • Provide additional (free) Jira app to view linked test cases & results inside Jira

Full Jira test management with Testmo integrated with Jira issue page

One reason many testing teams prefer a dedicated, full test management tool is that they can also easily integrate and manage test automation and exploratory testing in one tool, not just manual test cases. Teams also often use a variety of tools, such as GitHub, GitLab or even multiple Jira instances. Full test management tools usually make it easy to use and integrate all these DevOps tools very quickly for a fast and productive testing workflow. You can also review our list of the best test management tools to get an overview of available tools.

This option is best for: Teams with dedicated testers that want to build a scalable and repeatable testing process for their projects. Also recommended for teams using test automation, exploratory testing & teams who want to integrate with different tools.

Pros & advantages:

✅   Advanced test management features; scales with projects and teams
✅   Group test cases in folders, start separate test runs, link milestones etc.
✅   Rich testing reports, manage test assignments, QA workflows & exploratory testing
✅   Ready-to-use test automation & CI support, no need for custom programming
✅   Integrate with multiple Jira instances, or GitHub, GitLab & more

Cons & drawbacks:

❌   You have to add another tool to your DevOps toolkit
❌   Testers usually need both Jira and the test management tool during testing
❌   Need to configure the Jira integration initially for your team

Conclusion and Summary

Whether you are looking for a basic Jira app or a dedicated, full test management tool to manage your software tests, thinking about your software testing approach and choosing the right balance between structured testing, exploratory tests & automation for your projects will help you build better software.

Even choosing the best tool won't magically fix your quality assurance approach or improve your software quality if you are not using the right strategy for your projects. When choosing a new tool, it is also usually a good time to think about your testing approach and experiment with new ideas to test earlier, to cover more with fewer tests or to give your testers more time and freedom to explore testing outside of pre-defined test cases. Then choosing a matching tool to write & manage tests with Jira will make your and your team's lives much easier.

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