Software Testing Life Cycles (STLC) begin with the formulation of a test plan, which is one of the most basic concepts in software testing. The test plans describe the scope of the overall test effort as well as how the tests were mapped out over the period of time. Despite this, as more streamlined life cycle processes have emerged, such as DevOps and Agile, test plans and other test documentation are often neglected. This is unfortunate since a test plan is very valuable, regardless of the project lifecycle. In reality, test plans are valuable for ensuring the right resources are available for testing, regardless of lifecycle approach. In this article, we have outlined what a test plan is, what types of test plans are available, how to write a test plan, and how test plans differ from test strategies.
What is Test Plan?
Test Plans are documents that describe the scope, methodology, resources, and schedule of the activities that are intended to be tested. Test planning is the most important activity in establishing a baseline plan so you can track the progress of the project. Testing plans help us determine how much effort is required for validating the application quality. A test plan serves as a roadmap for organizing software testing activities in an organized manner, which is meticulously monitored and controlled by a test manager.
Often referred to as a master test plan or a project test plan, it is the most important document during the project's early stages. A test plan usually includes a number of details including the test plan ID, testing systems, pass-fail criteria, testing assignments, the expectations and responsibilities of the test holder, the time frame, as well as other aspects. Since test plans cover all aspects of testing, they can easily be reviewed and re-used for similar products. The test plan is prepared by the test manager or the test lead after considering the input of all team members. Testing plans can be continually modified, and they can differ from product to product depending on the requirements. Test plans are also shared with Project Managers, Business Analysts, Development teams, and other stakeholders. In this way, all stakeholders have visibility into QA activities.
Types of Test Plan
Generally, there are three types of test plans, and they are as follows:
Master Test Plan: This type of test plan includes multiple levels of testing. Detailed test strategies are included.
Phase Test Plan: This is a test plan that focuses on one phase of testing strategy. An example might be a list of tools or a list of test cases.
Specific Test Plan: Major types of testing are covered in specific test plans, such as security testing, performance testing and load testing. This means that a specific test plan is designed to test non-functional testing.
How to Write a Test Plan
Test planning is the most important part of the Test Management Process, as you are already aware. The following steps will help you create a test plan:
Analyze the product: First and foremost, it is important to gain a deep understanding of the product, the client, and the users of similar products that are used in a real-world situation. In this phase, focus should be placed on determining who will use the product, how it works, and what is required on the software and hardware sides.
Design the Test Strategy: Test strategy documents are developed by test managers in order to ensure the quality of the tests. In this document, objectives are defined along with how they can be achieved, the level of effort required, and the cost associated with the testing process. In more detail, the document should specify the scope of the tests, the type of tests, risks, issues, and logistical arrangements related to the tests.
Define the Test Objectives: In this phase, the test objectives, as well as the expected results, are defined. All testing is intended to identify as many defects as possible, so the objectives must list every aspect of the software that needs testing, such as functionality, GUI, and performance.
Define Test Criteria: A test criteria can be thought of as a standard or a rule that governs all information collection and testing activities in a project. Basically, test criteria can be categorized into two types: suspension criteria (benchmarks that define when all tests must be suspended) and exit criteria (benchmarks that indicate a certain stage of the project or phase has been successfully completed).
Resource Planning: In this phase, all resources needed to complete the project will be broken down in detail. As part of a comprehensive and accurate testing program, all of the necessary resources, such as human effort, equipment, and necessary infrastructure are required. This part of the test plan determines how many testers and equipment the project needs. Furthermore, it assists test managers in formulating a project schedule and estimation correctly.
Plan Test Environment: Test environments are software and hardware setups on which QAs (Quality Assurance) run tests. A test environment should be a real device, so testers can observe software behavior under real-world conditions. When it comes to manual or automated testing, nothing beats the use of real devices, installed with operating systems and real browsers. Test environments such as these cannot be negotiable. Simulators and emulators may compromise your test results.
Schedule & Estimation: Estimating test time and effort requires breaking the project down into smaller tasks. After that, create a schedule to accomplish these tasks within the designated timeframe by putting in a specific amount of effort. The schedule, however, must take into account multiple viewpoints, such as employee availability, number of working days, daily resource availability, project deadlines, as well as earlier-identified risks.
Determine Test Deliverables: The term Test Deliverables is used to refer to a set of documentation, tools, and other equipment that must be developed, provided, and maintained in order to support the testing process. There are a variety of deliverables that are needed before the start of the testing process (test plan, test design), during the testing process (test scripts, simulators and emulators, test data, error and execution logs) and after the testing process (test results, defect reports, release notes).
How Test Plans Differ from Test Strategy
In QA (Quality Assurance), test plans and test strategies are integral components, but they aren't always interchangeable. Having said that, how do a test plan and a test strategy differ from each other? Well, there are many differences between a test plan and a test strategy. We have outlined a few of them below for your reference:
In testing, a test plan identifies the scope of the project, as well as the various activities that will take place during the testing process.
Test strategies are documents that provide a high-level description of the testing process and the guidelines and principles that should be followed.
A test plan is created to identify potential inconsistencies in the final product and to alleviate them through the testing process.
A test strategy is an action plan that outlines the testing process over the long term in order to ensure that it stays on track.
Change Susceptibility Test plans are dynamic documents that can be modified according to testing specifications.
Test strategies are static documents that cannot be changed.
Components of a test plan include the test plan ID, the features to be tested, the techniques to be followed, the testing tasks to be performed, and the pass or fail criteria.
Objectives and scope, documentation, test processes, and so on, are all components of a test strategy.
Test plans are utilized at the project level.
Test strategies are implemented at the association level.
In the field of software testing, a test plan is considered to be the backbone upon which the whole project is built. In the absence of a well-crafted, comprehensive, and well-defined plan, quality assurance professionals will end up overwhelmed by vague, undefined objectives and timelines. This impedes efficient and accurate testing unnecessarily, which in turn slows down results, and delays the process of releasing the software. Hopefully, the guidelines offered in this article will help test managers and senior quality assurance professionals with constructing a test plan that will assist with executing tests in a cleaner, faster, and more successful manner.
Test plans are typically designed to explain how the testing will be conducted to the rest of the organization, and perhaps even other organizations, as well as to communicate the intent of the testing. In the absence of a test plan, communication about testing becomes very dynamic, and no one knows exactly what the testing goals and expectations are at any given time. Test plans aren't perfect, but the more experience you gain, the easier it will be for you to plan your tests.