Imagine you and your team of software developers have worked day and night on a product for weeks, months and even a few years. You have taken every step and procedure required to develop a product correctly. And you plan to release it within a span of a few days. Now cutting a long story short, your product is released but what happens is that your end-users start using the product. They find lots and lots of glitches while using the app and all of a sudden a huge chunk of the end-users switch to your competitors. So what happened, what exactly went wrong?
The answer is pretty obvious – You missed one of the most crucial aspects, i.e. software testing! However, software testing is a wide concept and I am not going to get into that detail but the following post focuses on what is a test plan and how it turns out to be one of the most crucial aspects of the software testing space.
Software testing is a process of examining the product before its being launched to the end-users. Here you need to check whether the developed product matches the exact requirements or not. Several tests are being done to check whether the product comprises any bugs, errors, or issues, and preventing these issues from increasing can also result in huge savings. The product is observed, evaluated and analyzed properly and that’s when a test plan comes into the picture.
What is a Test Plan?
A test plan is a kind of a detailed document that comprises of every single detail and description. Right from the test strategy to determining objectives, scheduling, estimating resources, and the list goes on! Right from the scope to what approach must be considered, which test activities must be taken into account are all included in a test plan. In other words, it’s more like a blueprint for running the tests. And in the end, all this is done to ensure that the software developed will work according to the predefined needs and requirements.
Do you think a test plan is rigid? Of course, not! Today software testing is something that is supposed to be considered in tandem with software development. This means as the development progresses, the dynamic documentation also changes. And keeping these details in mind several test activities are being conducted and executed.
So is the test plan discussed among software testers, QAs and Software developers? Of course not! It is shared among Business Analysts, Project Managers, Dev teams, and among all those who are related to the project in one way or other. Further below I would like to state certain facts regarding a test plan.
- It’s a detailed document used to carry out successful software testing
- The document is shareable among business analysts, dev teams and other relevant experts.
- The test plan is created by and for the QA members
- A test plan is pretty static but at the same time, it has the potential to get updated whenever required.
- The more comprehensive the test plan is, the more successful the project will become
Now further we will be exploring the why part. Why does one require a test plan in the software testing space?
Significance of the Test Plan
Now I have come across many of you who even today are not well aware of why there is a need for a test plan? In fact, some of you guys are pretty dicey about whether one must consider a test plan or not. Why create such a comprehensive guide before commencing any test activities? Here’s the answer for you!
What does a Test plan do?
- It keeps everything jotted – all the potential tests that must be taken after coding is done
- The plan itself modifies with the ongoing changes happening in the project
- Tests can be accurately recorded
- Initially, everything might seem abstract but in the end, it will be concrete.
- During the coding, test cases can be simultaneously materialized
- Once the test points are defined, they can be executed.
The objective of the Test Plan
- All functional and design requirements must be on par
- Unit and system testing
- All the test methods for unit and system testing can be well-identified
- Right from the scope of testing, schedule, test deliverables, risks and Contingencies, etc are included here.
Advantages of Creating a Test Plan
Guide to Testing
One of the obvious benefits of a test plan is that it acts as a pure guide. Here the approaches are being tested and the guide describes about what the testing practices must be taken into account. All the challenges can be well-taken care of. The test plan answers all the test questions in advance. Everything right from the scope to checking whether all the test items are present or not, deciding on the items test/pass criteria and what is needed for successful venture, everything is mentioned here.
Managing change is possible
Another benefit of using a test plan is that here managing changes can be done easily. You see every project evolves and situations can keep on changing every now and then. Test plans are pretty adaptable. Moreover, these plans can be updated and major milestones can keep things aligned with the continuous project goals and needs.
Also, one must consider that a test plan acts as one of the finest means of communication especially when you want to share each and every detail with your teammate. I am talking about people from the project team, testers, development teams, stakeholders and so forth. In fact, these people can evaluate, review it and offer necessary corrections when required.
Also, it may quite interest you to know that the Test plan mainly comprises of all the relevant information based on human resource calendar, estimated budget, schedule, software and hardware requirements, risk and contingencies.
Get rid of Unnecessary Activities
Another major advantage of creating a test plan is that you can ignore testing unnecessarily. Sometimes we tend to run after prevention so much that we often forget the difference between what’s needed and what’s not!
What if certain features are not implemented properly? Then testing would be such a waste of time and energy. Remember a test plan is used to keep the testing procedure on track. After all, this one comprises of high testing scope, features and functionalities. Not to mention testing teams no longer have to test ‘Out of scope’ functionalities again and again.
When to write a test plan?
Of course, there is no cookie cutter rule but it is often recommendable to write test plan once the test strategy is written. And not to mention, both these activities must happen right in the beginning of project cycle. In case, if you find any gaps and generalities, its absolutely fine! In case, if you find any back and update, it is also fine. One must know, test plan is a leaving and breathing document – it’s dynamic nature makes it a cut above.
Certain tips to keep in mind when writing a test plan
- Keep it simple and concise
- Keep everything well-organized
- Make sure it is easy to read and understandable
- Make sure it stays updated
So this is all for now! On and all, a test plan is extremely important aspect to ensure that your testing process is successful. Of course, no test plan is perfect but still the more test plans you create the more likely you are bound to succeed.
Author Bio: J Anderson is a software tester and tech consultant.
J is a guest blogger. All opinions are his own.