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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

A 360° Guide to Test Planning

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Introduction

One of the principles of testing mobile apps and software is creating a software test plan. But the concept of taking time to develop end-to-end testing plans and other different types of test documentation is regularly reduced or neglected entirely with the rise of streamlined life cycle methods, including DevOps and Agile. Unfortunately, significant value is lost in this process, which could substantially enhance all tasks, regardless of their lifecycle. Test managers and testers often miss out on test planning in the Agile test automation approach or meeting strict deadlines. But regardless of the lifecycle approach, a test plan is invaluable for ensuring that the right assets are acquired to satisfy the test targets. Even in test strategies that include exploratory testing, test charters are utilized to define the focal point of the entire duration of testing, alongside representing the time and suitable professionals who could be allotted to the testing efforts.

Planning is necessary for any endeavor in life and business. But the importance of test planning is often disregarded in testing. With manifold benefits, a test plan is worth all the time and effort invested in creating it and should be adjusted and adapted according to the scenario handy.

Definition of a Software Test Plan

A test plan can be considered a blueprint for the testing process. The test plan defines the layout for the testing to be executed at a specific stage, like user acceptance testing or system testing, or particular types of testing, like security testing or performance testing. The test plan is often called a QA test plan and can be viewed as the instruction guide or manual for the testing process. It describes the following concepts:

Goals of testing: What needs to be validated or verified?

Range of testing: What will and will not be considered for testing?

Schedule of the activities: When and how will the testing be conducted?

The definition of the required resources is the essential component of a test plan. The resources may be technical, like test tools, test environments, and test data, or human, like the professionals associated with the testing. The test plans should be able to foresee and mention the dangers within the mission and their respective ranges to prioritize the testing process by possibilities of risks.

Test Plan v/s Test Strategy

As illustrated in this section, a test strategy and a test plan are different in many aspects. The test plan recounts how the test will be executed. This comprises the definition of test approach, test goals, test equipment, test schedules, test environment, and team composition and responsibilities. However, the broader perspective of the assignment and organizational objectives must be defined before selecting the appropriate test method and remaining details of planning. A supreme test plan is viable in the case of formatting. However, it leaves out the essential goals of defining the actual needs of testing. This is wherein the essence of the test strategy is realized in determining fundamental test targets and ensuring the alignment of the test approach with organizational aims and requirements. The entrepreneurial perspective of testing is frequently discovered in the test strategy.

Practically, a test strategy is recommended as the first step for the overall analysis of the essential information. A test strategy explains the singularity of the test and is a grand scheme of all the included components. In other words, it describes the “why” and the “what” of the test. The goals and nature of the process are now in place for the elaborate test plan. An excellent activity to be performed is brainstorming the test strategy by all the shareholders. The surprising element of the test strategy is that it can be defined even before other specifications and requirements, and the details can be defined after the plan is created. The standard for writing a test strategy is ISO/IEC/IEEE 29119-3, but it can also be customized briefly and effectively as per the requirements.

A test strategy generally incorporates the following:

  • The distinct features of the assignment, like the technology and usage, associated
  • Crucial aspects for success, like usability, correctness, and reliability
  • General schedules and timelines
  • Roles and obligations
  • Risks involved with the product, enterprise, project, and technical factors
  • Stages of testing: component, system, integration, and acceptance
  • Different kinds of testing like security, functional, and usability

Steps to writing a Test Plan

Writing the first test plan calls for data assimilation for the first time, which can appear challenging. But researching details and the phraseology of factors becomes easier with practice. Writing a test plan is generally a control or management responsibility, preferably written by the supervisors. The definition of the test strategy can be the starting point of a test plan. Ambiguity and gaps are often discovered in the first draft of a test plan. With time, the writing effort requires the investigation of specific details for the project. Certain components can be assigned to the test team members for documentation and analysis, compiled and edited later by the author.

Reviewing is one of the essential obligations in developing the test plan. The modifications should be conveyed to all shareholders for valuable perspectives in the review, primarily with the test team. Another important aspect is writing the test plan with the required audience in consideration so that it can be understood by all, ensuring enhanced communication within an organization.

The critical aspects of a test plan are:

Compactness: 

Keeping the sentences short and sweet with bullet factors is recommended since data is now scanned and not read by almost all.

Legibility: 

Simple language, without any acronyms, is viable for being comprehensible to most readers.

Organization: 

Supreme test plan templates and standards assist with organizing the content. For example, numbered sections and sub-topics help in the reference of items included in the test plan. This makes the presentation crisp with a broad introduction and a meticulous body of the plan.

Flexibility for change: 

Minutely detailed elements inside the plan make it gullible to frequent changes according to project modifications. The space for change should be incorporated into the test plan.

Accuracy: 

The data and records of the test plan should be reliable and precise. The mistakes identified, if any, should be reported and resolved at the earliest.

The primary international standard preferred for test plans, test procedures, and test cases is ISO/IEC/IEEE 29119-3. Traditional and agile test plan standards are available in this standard and are examples of both kinds of test plans. This can act as a guide for beginners since it is rich with the experience of industry leaders. However, a test plan should always be prepared according to the specific needs and requirements of the project, with the resilience for modifications along the testing journey.

Conclusion

Regardless of the lifecycle technique of the given assignment, test planning is a crucial component of testing. A test plan acts as a mission plan for the testing process.

A degree of making plans and practice is required to achieve the appropriate assets in place on time in many stages of testing. The resources, like environments and people, may additionally require considerable preparation. These resources are described along with the testing needs in the test plan. The principal purpose of the test plan is effective communication with internal and external teams about how the testing has been planned to be executed. Communication about testing becomes quite dynamic without a test plan since the expectations and requirements at any given time are unclear.

No test plan is ideal, but the planning becomes easier with higher experience in writing test plans. Start your free trial with HeadSpin for a holistic testing solution.

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