Testing is an integral part of every software development project as it ensures a successful and bug-free product release. However, the more complex your software, the more difficult it becomes to thoroughly plan out all the testing activities. Besides eliminating bugs and unmet criteria, testing is also used to establish whether the final product matches the expected requirements. A crucial step in the software product development services, testing involves the creation of two important documents, a test plan and a test strategy. The terms are often used interchangeably, albeit they are not the same and do serve different purposes. Both vital documents for project management and consulting services as well as development and testing teams, test plans and test strategies serve as blueprints for conducting meaningful, measurable and successful tests. In this article, we will explore the definitions, structures, and components of both documents, as well as discuss their key differences.
A test plan is a comprehensive document that addresses test objectives, timelines, budgets, deadlines, strategies, and resources required to execute a project. The document acts as a blueprint for the entire testing phase with the purpose of delivering well-functioning software. A test plan is an agile and dynamic record that stays flexible throughout the entirety of the project to include any changes. Created mainly for the QA and testing team, the document is also available to developers, managers and other stakeholders to ensure company-wide transparency.
A test plan is a large document that incorporates various aspects of the testing process. In order to craft a detailed and helpful record, you need to learn the main components and the structure of the document:
This part includes information about the project and its goals, as well as provides various user scenarios that will be used in the tests.
The second section addresses important dates and deadlines, and describes the entire timeline of the testing phase.
This details which QA specialist will work on which particular test and deals with the accountabilities and responsibilities.
The next part describes the nature and availability of the test environment as well as how it will be configured to attain the best results.
This section lists various tools and software that will be used for testing, reporting, communication, and other activities.
Defect or bug management details how bugs and errors will be reported, including channels, chains of command, reporting, and solutions.
This paragraph describes which risks are likely to occur during the testing procedures, their probabilities and outcomes, as well as mitigation strategies.
The final part entails concrete, measurable results that must occur in order for the testing phase to be complete.
Before we start a step-by-step journey of crafting a test plan, let’s talk about general tips. To provide expertise and transparency, delegating different parts of the document to the respective experts is highly recommended. The project leader will review the texts and make edits to create a holistic document. Once the test plan is completed, the author organizes review sessions with the members of the test team as well as other stakeholders to finalize the draft. However, a test plan is a dynamic document that needs to remain flexible and changeable throughout the entire duration of the project. In this part, we will explain each section of the document that you can use as a template for your own test plan.
The very first step is investigating the product, the client, and the end users. By the end of this phase, you should have answers to any questions pertaining to the product’s target audience, main purpose, functionality and project specifications. You can collect this information by interviewing the client and developers as well as exploring the existing product documentation.
This part documents project objectives and the means of achieving them, as well as the resources required to complete the project. For example, a test strategy must include software components that will be tested, which types of testing will be applied, and possible risks that might come up. The record also incorporates the personnel involved in the testing procedures and their individual responsibilities and roles.
This part of the test plan document details the project objectives and defines the expected results. Make sure to list all software features that will be tested such as functionality, performance, speed, graphical user interface (GUI), etc. Finally, to make the results tangible and measurable, include the benchmarks that you will be comparing the results against.
The two most significant and vital criteria for a fruitful testing process are suspension and exit criteria. The former defines the conditions under which the tests will be suspended until further notice. For example, if over half of all test cases have failed, all testing will be suspended until the development team resolves all the existing issues and defects. Exit criteria address the benchmarks that need to be accomplished in order to call the testing success and finish this stage.
As a breakdown of all the resources required for the project, this part of the test plan document goes into detail to address human labor, equipment, software, costs, and other infrastructure needed for efficient testing. Using this breakdown, testers will be able to estimate the timeline and budget for the entire project. Make sure to list every integral part of the process, including the number of specialists and which equipment will be required.
This section describes the software and hardware that will be employed to run various tests. To achieve the best results and create a realistic environment, companies use actual devices, browsers, and operating systems. Testing using simulators can be a cost-effective alternative but will never fully emulate real-life conditions.
Creating a project timeline is not an easy task but is required to stay within the budget and deadlines. Break down the entire scope into smaller milestones and allocate the time and resources required to complete them. Don’t forget to assign testers responsible for each stage and the desired outcomes. Take into account employee availability, holidays, deadlines and resources to create an accurate schedule estimation and consider the risks associated with the project.
Test deliverables vary depending on the stage of the testing process: before, during, and after. Documentation pertaining to the pre-testing phase includes test plan and design, and finishes with test scripts, simulators, test data, and execution logs during the testing. Finally, after the project is complete, you will need documentation on test results, bug reports, and release notes.
A test strategy is a static document that includes general rules of the conduct relevant to testing procedures across the organization. Companies usually involve various stakeholders in the composition of the test strategy such as developers, designers, testers, project managers, and business analysts. The document is broad and incorporates guidelines on documentation formats, test procedures, communication channels, and more. The main goal is to create a comprehensive and detailed record addressing all aspects pertaining to testing activities and scope.
How do development and testing teams choose the most appropriate test strategy that complements their project and product? There are a few different approaches that we will discuss in this section to help you identify the right strategy for your company.
This strategy is used to run tests based on requirements which are previously established from the test conditions. An analytical test strategy example is risk-based testing whereby teams design and execute certain tests to encounter the said requirements and test the product in this environment. Apply this strategy to analyze specific factors like risks and requirements.
This strategy suggests using the existing set of test conditions backed up by quality standards like ISO25000. A good example of a test strategy using a methodical approach is security testing that heavily relies on checklists describing relevant functions and properties.
Under this strategy type, tests are designed and implemented after release and based on defects identified in the running system. Commonly used for exploratory testing, the reactive strategy incorporates tests that are based on reactions or outcomes of previous tests.
This type of strategy employs models to design and execute tests and compare the results to the sample. Based on various factors, including software, data speeds, technology, etc., teams can construct a mathematical model to conduct tests. One example of a test strategy using modeling is simulating traffic on your mobile app and running tests to evaluate the performance under these circumstances.
This strategy is created to ensure the product is compliant with industry or even legal standards. An example of a process-compliant test strategy is the medical sphere where testing compliance is crucial to avoid getting into legal trouble. QA specialists follow the standards established by committees or other authorities such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to ensure their product adheres to them.
Used in user-directed testing, this strategy involves adopting the browsers, operating systems, and other requirements of the client. This type of testing allows teams to run test samples in a realistic environment and tailor the experience to the specific client’s needs.
This type of strategy is applied to ensure the code’s integrity after new changes. The method involves automation and aims at minimizing the risk of regression for product features.
A test strategy is a technical document that requires an in-depth understanding of the product, requirements, and testing procedures. In this section, we will go through a template that includes every important piece of information and elaborates on how to create a test strategy document.
The beginning of the test strategy document presents a concise overview of testing activities and phases as well as projects. Include information about the timelines, various testing stages, and procedures to offer the summary and structure of the entire document. This section should also explain how to use the document and who is responsible for its review and approval.
This part is the meat of the entire document and describes testing procedures, roles and responsibilities of the team, various degrees of testing, as well as the change management process. Use this section to define the testing process, testing level, and each test type required to complete the software development lifecycle. For example, integration, regression, usability, performance, and other tests alongside the reasons for running them for your product.
Besides testing environment specifications, provide instructions on how to generate test data, including the number of environments, the setup, and configurations. Additionally, this section should specify the backup strategy and mention who is responsible for it. The data restoration plan should also entail information about the essential contents of the backup.
List the tools and software required to create and execute tests as well as technology for process automation. Describe in detail which tool is mandatory to complete which type of test. Finally, specify the tool usage, including whether it is open source or not and the number of users it can handle.
In order to systematize test execution and release strategies, create a detailed release control section. It is no secret that unplanned release cycles can lead to the creation of different product versions in test and user acceptance testing (UAT) environments. Hence a release control document alongside a well-organized version history will mitigate the risks and ensure a proper test execution of all changes in the given release.
Create a list of all potential threats and assess their probability and impact on the product, company, and resources. Come up with a mitigation or avoidance plan for each risk as well as a backup plan in case the risk occurs nonetheless. Don’t forget to mention who is responsible for which plan and execution to ensure a smooth and timely reaction.
After the test strategy document is created, it needs to go through a few evaluation stages. People who should take part in the review and approval include system administrators, project managers, developers, business analysts, and other vital stakeholders. Once everyone has reviewed and approved the document, it can be shared across the organization and updated on a regular basis.
The key difference between these two is the longevity of the documents: a test plan is tailored to fit a specific project, whereas a test strategy is an organization-level record. A test plan is a dynamic document that is continuously updated and reviewed to accommodate any changes and deliver a secure software development process, whereas a test strategy is a static record of testing procedures. Finally, the test plan document describes how the test strategy will be executed and a test strategy delves into more technical details. In other words, a test plan is a vision of what your project strives to achieve and a test strategy is an action plan with the steps, structure, and requirements of how to achieve it.
Drafting test plans and test strategy documents is a complex process that involves a great understanding of the product and the client as well as technical acumen. Follow our instructions and use samples to create comprehensive records that can be used by the entire team to provide transparency across the organization. If you would like assistance from professionals, get in touch with NIX United. We are a team of technical experts with years of experience in software development and quality assurance services. Our customer-centric approach ensures smooth cooperation and delivers the desired results. Reach out to us to discuss your needs and start your new project.
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