Test Plan – Why and How to Write?

This article will teach us how to write a software test plan template. To do this, we see what is a test plan document. A test plan contains the plan for all the testing activities in order to deliver a high-quality product.

A test plan is a document that contains the procedures for testing. It includes all product features to be tested with its input, process, and output data. Thus, it defines how the software will be tested and by whom. A software test plan may contain Test Case documents to understand better what needs to be done differently to test different combinations of inputs and outputs.

The test plan is also shared among Business Analysts, Project Managers, and Development teams to ensure transparent quality assurance activities. QA managers or leads create the Test plan based on input from other team members, and this should not take too much time.

Test Plans can be either created manually or using the software. For example, the HP test plan generator creates the format and documents needed for planning and tracking testing activities. Normally, in large projects, when the number of tests to be performed is very high, then a Test Plan is created using software like HP Quality Center, i.e., HP Quality Center is a testing and quality assurance software.

A test plan document is one component of the ‘test deliverables.’ Like other test documents, this type of document is shared with stakeholders. They are informed about the scope and approach for testing software and a schedule that may also be included.

Why and How to Write a Test Plan?

Test plans outline the process of testing the functionality of the software. A test plan details each step taken to achieve a certain result and states the objective of each action. The plan also highlights the projected resources, risks, and personnel involved in the test.

You should use a test plan if you are seeking to eliminate bugs and other errors in your software before it becomes available to customers. Follow the steps below to create a test plan.

Know The Basics About Test Plan

What you put in your test plan depends largely on the complexity of the software you’re planning to test. However, a test plan should always include three basic sections: Test Coverage, Test Methods, and Test Responsibilities.

  • Test coverage defines what you will be testing and what you will not.
  • Test methods define how you test each part defined in the “coverage” section.
  • Test responsibilities assign tasks and responsibilities to different parties. This section should also include what data each party will record and how it will be stored and reported.

Familiarize yourself with necessary IEEE standards documents

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) publishes international standards for testing and documenting software and system development. To hold your test plan to the highest standard, consult with the IEEE publications below:

  • 29119-1-2013, Software and Systems Engineering – Software Testing – Part 1: Concepts and Definitions
  • 29119-2-2013, Software and Systems Engineering – Software Testing – Part 2: Test Processes
  • 29119-3-2013, Software and Systems Engineering – Software Testing – Part 3: Test Documentation
  • 829-2008, IEEE Standard for Software and System Test Documentation
  • 1008-1987 – IEEE Standard for Software Unit Testing

How To Prepare an Effective SoftwareTest Plan?

To prepare an effective test plan, one should give the consideration of the below-mentioned points:

  • What are the requirements and specifications for producing test deliverables?
  • How much time is available to produce this deliverable?
  • How many resources will be required to produce the document?
  • Will others need to be included in or informed about your planning activities, such as testers or project managers?
  • Are there any other deliverables that are related to your test plan?
  • What is the best format for your document?
  • How will you ensure quality for your test plan document?
  • Are interim versions of this document needed during testing or before delivery, and how often will they be produced?
  • Where can you store the final document?
  • What happens after testing has been completed and a test deliverable is to be produced?
  • How often will you update this plan? Will it change due to changes in your environment or project objectives?
  • When should components of your plan be prepared, such as quality assurance plans, procedures, and test scripts?

Who Prepares Test Plan Template?

Test Plan Template is a document prepared by the QA lead, test manager, or Business Analysts and shared with project managers, developers, etc., to ensure that the quality of the product will be satisfactory.

What Is Software Test Plan Template?

A software test plan template is a Word document containing instructions and details about how the software will be tested. The template is used as a guideline for all the testing activities in order to deliver high-quality products.

The test plan may cover all types of software testing like Functional, Regression, Smoke (Sanity), Sanity and Performance, etc. It explains what kind of tests will be performed on what type of software e.g., Web application, Software for Handheld devices like mobile or tablet, etc.

It includes the list of test cases for each requirement in the requirements document, which testers verify during the Test Execution phase to ensure that all functionalities are working properly in the product and there is no issue. To create a software test plan template, one should have a clear idea about the software being developed or used to improve the functionality of an existing product.

While creating a Software Test Plan Template, it needs to be kept in mind that some points should not exceed, and neither should it be less. It needs to be precise and efficient so that all parties are informed about what work needs to be performed during testing and what functionality can be tested with the available resources.

What Are The Components of Software Test Plan Template?

A test plan template includes the necessary steps and information to be followed in order to deliver high-quality software as per the requirements specified in the requirement document and software specification document. It also includes a list of functionalities that need to be verified by testers during testing to ensure that all software functions are working as per requirement specification.

It also includes information about the test environment, available resources, and any other constraints that may affect the quality of the product. It acts as a guideline for all the testing activities in order to deliver high-quality products.

Test Plan Template Components Are:

Test Plan ID: It includes the project’s name and the test plan’s ID. A Test Plan ID should be unique throughout the project and remembered by all the parties involved to understand the type of testing included in this document.

Introduction: It includes basic information about software, projects, environment, etc.

References: It includes pointers to the requirement document, software specification document, and other documents related to this project.

Test items include a list of functionalities that need to be tested with their respective conditions, inputs, and expected results. It is used as a guideline for all testing activities in order to deliver high-quality products.

Features to be tested: It includes information about features to be tested in this software. It explains what type of testing is included in the document and briefly explains why certain features need to be tested at this stage during the development process.

Feature not to be tested: It includes a list of features not covered in this test plan. This may happen because of constraints like low priority, lack of resources, time, and testing budget.

Approach: It includes information about the general approach that will be followed to perform testing. This may include manual testing approaches like GUI, Unit or Integration test analysis, etc. It may also include an automation approach like functional or regression test automation.

Pass/Fail Criteria: It includes information about the criteria that will be used to verify whether the product is working as per requirement specifications.

Suspension and Resumption Requirements: It includes information about criteria that will be used to suspend the testing process if certain issues are found during testing. It also covers criteria that will be used to resume the testing process if the issues created in any phase are resolved.

Test Deliverables: These include information about test reports, defects, or bug reports, which will be used to communicate product issues and defects to various parties involved in the project.

Test environment: It includes information about the Operating System and other tools used to promote testing.

Estimate: It includes information about the time and cost required to perform testing.

Schedule: It includes information about the time frame in which the software will be tested.

Staffing and Training Needs: It includes information about staffing and training needs to be followed in order to perform testing as per requirement specifications.

Responsibilities: It includes information about all the resources responsible for different testing types in each phase.

Risks: It includes information about this testing activity’s risks and mitigation strategies.

Assumptions and Dependencies: It includes information about assumptions made on different environments and dependencies that may affect the quality of the product.

Approvals: It includes information about acceptance criteria set by all the parties involved in this project.

Consult a template

You can find templates for test plans online. The IEEE library is the best source for templates, but access costs a fee.

  • The North Carolina Office of Information Technology Services offers an annotated test plan template based on IEEE 829 standards here.
  • Dublin City University also offers a free test plan template based on IEEE 829 standards.

Step 1. Write the Introduction

Your introduction functions as the “executive summary” of the test plan: its goals, scope, and schedule. This should be kept brief, as you will go into further detail in subsequent sections of the test plan.

  • Your goals and scope statements should define, in general terms, the methods that will be used in the testing process and the projected results. The scope statement should also include the most critical performance measures and a list of what the test plan will not address and why.
  • A schedule details the increments of time in which each test phase will be completed.
  • Related documents include any peripheral material relevant to the current project, such as lists of specifications.

Step 2. Define your objectives

Your test plan should clearly define what you will test and why you will test it. These should always be based on industry standards.

  • Determine the scope of the test. What scenarios will be tested?
  • Determine what is out of scope for the test. What scenarios will not be tested?
  • Common scenarios include Module Testing, Integration Testing, Systems/Acceptance Testing, and Beta Testing.

Step 3. Write a section on required resources

This section describes the resources needed to complete the testing, including hardware, software, testing tools, and staff.

  • When accounting for your staff, detail the responsibilities required of each member and the training needed to execute those responsibilities.
  • Make sure to document the exact specifications of hardware and software.

Step 4. Write a section on risks and dependencies

Detail all the factors that your project depends on and the risks involved in each step. The acceptable risk level in your project will help determine what you will and will not test.

  • Consider the likelihood of various risks. You will need to prioritize the critical areas.
  • Be aware of any vague or unclear requirements. Users often lack the expertise to understand technical language or procedures, so user misunderstanding could pose a risk.
  • Use your past “bug” history to help you identify areas of concern and extra testing.

Step 5. Write a section on what you are going to test

List what new aspects you will be testing and what old aspects you will be re-testing. Make sure to detail the purpose of each test.

  • You can use software application inventories, IEEE guidelines, and other sources to help you determine this list.
  • This section also represents your “deliverables,” or what data you will deliver to the client once the testing is complete.

Step 6. Write a section on what you will not be testing

List any features that will not be tested during the current project. Reasons not to test features include:

  • The feature will not be included in this version of the software
  • The feature is low-risk or has been used before without issue

Step 7. List your strategy

This section outlines the overall test strategy for your test plan. It will specify the rules and processes for the tests outlined above.

  • Include information on tools to be used, what metrics will be collected, at what level, how many configurations will be tested, and whether there are any special requirements or procedures for testing.

Step 8. Develop a pass/fail criteria

These criteria will guide your testing staff so that they know whether testing objectives have been achieved. This section can also include “exit criteria” so your staff knows when to stop testing a certain acceptable feature.

  • You should also include a list of suspension criteria and resumption requirements. This information tells testers when to pause tests and the acceptable defect level to resume them.

Step 9. Write a list of documents that will be produced during testing

Also known as “deliverables,” these documents are the data, reports, scripts, and results that will be produced by testing.

  • Assigning these deliverables to “owners” responsible for their delivery is a good idea. Assign deadlines by which they are due.

Step 10. Write a section on the results of your project

Outline all the goals that you hope to achieve during the testing process. Detail who is in charge of final approvals.

I love open-source technologies and am very passionate about software development. I like to share my knowledge with others, especially on technology that's why I have given all the examples as simple as possible to understand for beginners. All the code posted on my blog is developed, compiled, and tested in my development environment. If you find any mistakes or bugs, Please drop an email to softwaretestingo.com@gmail.com, or You can join me on Linkedin.

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