What is a Test Plan?
A software product, once developed and tested completely, is prepared for its release, during which various documents, reports, screenshots, etc. are also delivered to the client and other stakeholders of the project. Known as deliverables, these documents and reports are an integral part of software development life cycle (SDLC), as they necessary information related to the product to the concerned individual. Test plan is one such important testing deliverable offered during the release of the product.Therefore, let us understand the significance of test plan, with the assistance of the following discussion.
What is a Test Plan?
Among the various deliverables delivered to the client after the completion of the project, a test plan is the most important document. It encompasses all the activities performed during the testing process.
From test activities, scope, and objectives to the scheduling of different tasks, test environments, system testing techniques and more, a test plan document offers all the necessary and relevant information to the developers, business managers, as well as the customers.
In short, a test plan is a document is considered to be a pre-planned blueprint of everything that is required to make the testing process complete, successful and executed on time.
Different Types of Test Plan:
Test plans are classified according to the testing types, level, and the size of the test plan and are of three types. These test plans define high-level details about the software testing techniques as well as its process. Hence, the three types of test plans are:
- Level specific test plans: These include Unit test plan, Integration test plan and system test plan.
- Type specific test plan: these include plans for major parameters like performance testing plan.
- Master test plan: This is one single big plan combining all the other plans to be carried out on the software product.
Features of a Test Plan:
Often known as master test plan or project test plan document, test plan outlines various components of the testing process, such as the test strategy, test estimation, deliverables, etc., which helps the client and other stakeholders to get a deeper insight into the testing process. Other important features of a test plan are:
- It is an important guide that is used to ensure the success of the project.
- Serves as a blueprint to conduct software test, while minutely monitoring and controlling the process.
- Helps the testing team to control various risks associated with the testing process.
- It serves as a means of communication across the software team.
- With the assistance of a test plan, the team can track the changes in the testing process and make necessary adjustments.
Importance of a Test Plan:
From defining the test scenarios and test objectives to offering critical information about the entire testing life cycle, there are various factors that make a test plan an integral part of the software testing life cycle (STLC). Other reasons that further increases its importance are:
- A well written test plan ensures that all the aspects of the software are covered and tested.
- It prevents unnecessary testing.
- Helps determine the efforts required to validate the quality of the software system under test.
- It guides the thinking of the testers.
- It acts as a rulebook of testing that needs to be followed.
- Since it offers several relevant information, it can be reviewed by the management team and reused for any similar future projects.
Test Plan Template:
A test plan can vary from one project to another. However, while creating a test plan, the testing team or the test management team ensures that it follows a set template, which allows them to log all the necessary details about the testing process in the document. Defined by the standard IEEE 829, a test plan template constitutes of the following details:
Every test plan consists of a fixed set of parameters, the brief description of whose is given below:
- Test Identifier: A test identifier is nothing but an identifying reference unique to the document.
- Introduction: The introduction is a brief overview of the scope and adjectives of the test to be conducted. It also specifies the constraints related to the testing exercise.
- References: This contains links to documents related to the test plan such as the project report or the test configuration management plan.
- Test items: Test items are the software entities related to the application under test.
- Features not to be tested: They are those items which have been excluded from the realm of testing. Under this, reasons for their omission are also mentioned.
- Testing approach: This raises questions related to selection of strategy for testing. Be it black box/ white box testing. This also includes decisions pertaining to the use of automation testing or sticking with manual testing.
- Pass/fail criteria: This is the documentation of those parts of the software product under test which have passed or failed, upon the administration of test cases.
- Suspension and resumption criteria: It is used for specifying a criteria in the form of limits for a certain percentage of test cases which fail and beyond which the testing has to suspend temporarily until the resolution of all issues.
- Test deliverables: Includes the tools and documents developed, used and maintained for the testing process. Their types are:
- Deliverables provided before the Test the Testing Phase: Documents related to test cases and the test design specifications.
- Deliverables provided during the Test Phase: These include the simulators, bug logs, traceability matrices and execution logs.
- Deliverables for Post Testing Phase: These are the defect reports, test results and the test procedure guideline with release notes.
- Testing Tasks: All the tasks related to planning and execution of test cases.
- Environmental needs: The environment is the platform of software and hardware on which the test cases are carried out. It is also the landscape where the real user or business settings are simulated for testing the software product on different servers, back/front end environment, different operating systems and the like. Requires interaction between developers and testers for setting up of environment.
- Roles and responsibilities: This aspect is related to assigning responsibilities in the form of project schedules and deadlines to individuals as well as team leaders and managers.
- Staffing and Training Needs: Related to filling up of recruitment requirements of testing. This is done keeping in mind the skill levels and past experience personals working with particular software functionalities. Also includes skill augmentation through training programmes.
- Scheduling: Covers the dates for testing deadlines, product release and other significant milestones in the dateline of product.
- Risk mitigation: Documents all the risks which can potentially pose hurdles in testing. Also involves preparation of contingency plans for risks.
- Approvals: All the individuals and parties directly and indirectly associated with the testing process give their agreements in the form of signed approvals.
Read more about the importance of test plan document in our next article.
How to Write a Good Test Plan?
The template defined above has made the process of creating a test plan easy. However, it is essential to create an effective test plan that offers all the relevant information, as this document is delivered not only to the client, but at times to the customer also. Therefore, to help you write a good test plan, here are some important points.
- Conduct product analysis.
- Develop an efficient test strategy.
- Define and allocate roles and responsibilities.
- Calculate all the anticipated risks.
- Develop a schedule for testing.
- Plan and prepare test environment.
Guidelines for Creating a Test Plan:
As stated earlier, a well written test plan plays a major role in the success of the product, as it helps the readers understand various aspects related to the product easily. Therefore, if a team wants to create test plan accurately, it is important for them to consider few guidelines, which can assist them in recording all the necessary information in the document with precision, such as:
- Create a concise test plan, with all the necessary informations.
- The information provided should not be redundant and superfluous.
- While preparing a test plan it is necessary for the team members to be specific and precise.
- Create points, list, and tables wherever necessary, to increase the readability of the document.
- Review the document constantly before it is released with the product.
- Update the test plan with all the recent changes and modifications.
To further ensure the accuracy of your test plan, follow our exhaustive test plan checklist.
An important software testing deliverable, test plan, needs to be prepared with all the necessary information. With the help of this document, the testing team can share critical details about the testing process with other team members, like developers, business managers, etc. and ensure transparency and communication between each other. Hence, by creating a test plan, the testers not only simplify the testing process, but also improve communication between team members.
To find the differences between test plan, test strategy, test case, test script.