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Within a test suite, each test case generates a large amount of test data, which is used as input to the next test case in the sequence. Frequently we want to manipulate the test data to cause failures in or otherwise test the downstream tools. These manipulations are significant test activities whose outputs can be reused in other test suites, so I'd like to track them separately from the test cases.

Since the test activities themselves have similar fields to the test cases (precondition, postcondition, etc.) my naive inclination is to capture them alongside test cases (TC), with a different identifier (TA), in the same spreadsheet:

Gumdrop test case spreadsheet

(Additional fields, not shown, are Traceability, Input, Steps, Actual Output, Test Result, and Status.)

Further extending my naive inclinations, I could add preparation/automation activities and track these separately. For all intents and purposes, we can assume this is captured in an Excel spreadsheet or similar and that we can add any fields we need.

Gumdrop test case spreadsheet with additional test activities, duration and resource

This seems fairly nonstandard, so I appreciate any thoughts/alternatives.

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The usual method that I've seen is to wrap the data generation into the test case requiring that data, and update time estimates accordingly.

The important thing here is that it doesn't matter how you handle the steps you take as long as the method is documented and clear to your team

Your method will work fine as long as the team understands what's involved and everyone is clear on what needs to be done at each step.

One of the fun things about testing is that there is no "best way" to do anything. If it works for you and your team and it's not getting in your way, go ahead and do it. If you find later on you need to tweak your process, that's fine, too.

Every product is unique, every testing project is unique, and every organization is unique. Do what works.

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