How to Define Effective Test Scripts for Dashboards

test scripts

Testing may be one of the most important steps in your project to deliver robust dashboards and reports. However, in my 20+ years as a Business Analytics consultant and coach, I have found that rarely do clients focus proper attention on testing. Most feel it’s a necessary evil. I will now share some tips on how to define effective test scripts for dashboards and reports.

The benefits you receive when you know how to define effective test scripts for dashboards include:

  •  Increased end user adoption
  • Decreased end user training time
  • Reduced project time
  • Reduced project costs
  • You look like a rock star!

Before we start, I want to disclose that Lodestar Solutions believes the best implementation methodology is an agile or Scrum approach. In an agile project, you will define user stories that help to define the testing process. Testing in agile is done incrementally as opposed to the end of the project. This results in the ability to fix errors faster and provide for improvements as you go. For more information on agile, check out our "Save Time With Agile Scrum Methodology For Business Analytics" blog.

For those of you not on an agile or a modified agile methodology, you may want to leverage sticky notes to jot down everything you need to test. I recommend starting this at the beginning. Have everyone jot down what will need to be tested on a sticky note. Next up...put it on a large flip chart or store them in one place. Additionally, you may want to color code them. For more information on leveraging sticky notes, check out my video and join our Analytics Coaching Club, AT NO COST, for more time saving techniques.

Test Scripts on Dashboards

We believe that there are four areas you need to write test scripts to ensure proper dashboard and report testing. We will assume the data coming into your data warehouse or other source systems has already been tested.

test scripts
  • First, you need test scripts to ensure the data moving from various sources like the warehouse into your BI tool is mapped correctly. We need to ensure that data is exactly as expected.
  • The second area requiring test scripts is security. This is to confirm users can only see what they are supposed to see.
  • Next, test scripts are needed for the report or dashboard functionality. Ensure they meet the needs of your end users. You will also test security again at this point in case something was set wrong in the premliminary security test scripts. Always ask what the end users will want to do next with the dashboard. This gives you an idea on what features you could add in a later release like drill through.
  • Finally, test scripts enable the system to test performance and scalability. Systems often function when hundreds of users are on at once.

Getting end users involved in the testing early is essential to delivering a solution they will love, hence increasing end user adoption. The trick is getting them to commit their time to explain that they will have influence in features so it meets and exceeds their needs.

Remember testing of Business Intelligence (DW/BI) applications is a little different than testing traditional transactional applications. It requires a data-centric testing approach. Check out “How to Conduct Effective Testing of Business Intelligence Applications” which provides some good information on challenges you may face. As part of the daily or weekly testing, we recommend you share the results with the involved stakeholders.

Why A Test Summary Report?

After you complete testing, generate a test summary report. A test summary report explains various details and activities about the testing performed for the project. In addition to generating this report, it can be given to the respective stakeholders like senior management, client, etc. If you would like more details on a test summary report, read “A Simple 12 Steps Guide to Write an Effective Test Summary Report” which is quite informative.

So what are you waiting for? You can start defining test scripts with sticky notes today! To view my brief video which shares a tip on “How to Define Effective Test Scripts for Dashboards” and to join our Analytics Coaching club for more timesaving tips, click HERE.

To join our clubs, simply click the “Register Now for More Time Savings” button under the video. You will then be able to choose which clubs you’d like to join. Then click the green “Purchase Now” button to the right. Please note that there is NO COST to join! Once you provide your information and click the sign up button, you will have immediate access to amazing videos to make you look like a rock star.

Finally, if you have direct questions about setting up testing scripts or would like to learn more about our recommended Business Analytics Agile Methodology (BAAM), contact us at

Defining Successful Test Scripts for IBM Cognos Implementation

Defining Successful Test Scripts for IBM Cognos Implementation

A key step in a successful IBM Cognos implementation is testing.  Many clients struggle with what to include in their test scripts.  Here’s a little Lodestar Solution tip.

As you go thru the design phase, make sure all power users have 3×5 sticky notes. As you define your design, write down each process that you believe should be thoroughly tested on a sticky note.  Include on it a description, expected outcome, data requirements, and foreseeable issues.

Place the notes on a large flip chart.  (I prefer the sticky flip charts on an easel)  At the top of the flip chart, write TESTING SCRIPTS.  The flip chart will allow you to take it to different conference rooms that you might be assigned.

Throughout the build process, you will identify other test scenarios and add them to the flip chart.   When it comes time to define your test scripts, host a team meeting to review all the sticky notes. Organize them by priority and identify any that need to be in sequential order. I recommend numbering them 1 – Critical, 2 – Important, 3 – Average, 4 – Nice to Have.  This will help you organize the notes.  Review with the team the description and data required to accomplish the test.

When you write the detail test scripts, I recommend identifying the areas you would like to have in a customized user guide.  For these test scripts, be very detailed and include screen shots.  This will allow you to include them all in a user guide by simply cut and pasting them into one document.

Remember, if you don’t start planning testing from the beginning you will probably miss something!