What is a Test Plan? How to Create It?

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What is a Test Plan? How to Create It?

Sameeksha Medewar
Last updated on October 6, 2022

    Planning plays a critical role in accomplishing any common or complex task. It is the process of thinking and defining the activities that are required to perform a specific task.

    In other words, we can define planning as the management function that includes deciding:

    • What to do,
    • How to do it, and
    • Who will do it beforehand?

    It is involved in each and every task and so as in the software testing process. The software testing process ensures that the software product under development meets the quality standards, is free from defects, and complies with the specified requirements.

    To carry out testing successfully on the software product, it becomes essential to create a plan first. This is where the test plan comes into the picture.

    A test plan is a detailed guide that contains all the details, such as a test strategy, estimation, resources, deliverables, objectives, and schedule, that are required to perform testing.

    Through this article, we will help you understand what exactly a test plan is in detail and how to create it.

    So, let us get started!

    What is a Test Plan?

    It is a detailed document that provides everyone involved in the testing process an idea of what is included or required for performing software testing on applications under development. It defines the structured approach to performing testing on software products.

    In other words, we can also define it as a template that defines various activities to carry out on the software product. It serves as the base and blueprint for the testing process. Also, it helps us identify the effort required to validate the software product under development for its correctness, functionality, and usability.

    The test manager is responsible for managing and controlling testing activities. In addition, the test lead, test manager, and test engineer are responsible for creating test plans. They develop a test plan for a particular application at its early stages of development.

    Moreover, they share this document with business analysts , project managers, and the development team so that they can have a clear picture of what the QA team does during the testing process.

    Furthermore, the creation of this document should not take more than ?(one-thir)rd of the total time allocated for a project. The important thing to note is that this document is not static. It changes based on the customer’s changing requirements.

    Types of a Test Plan

    Generally, there are 3 types of test plans: namely Master, Phase, and Specific.

    1. Master Test Plans

    It covers the entire test strategy and all the activities to take place at all the levels of the testing process.

    2. Phase Test Plans

    It includes activities to be performed at each level of testing, such as unit test plans, integration test plans, system test plans, and user acceptance test plans.

    3. Specific Test Plans

    It includes all the information required to carry out specific types of testing, such as performance testing, usability testing, load testing, and security testing.

    Importance of a Test Plan

    This document plays a vital role throughout the software testing life cycle (STLC) :

    • It helps other people that are not part of the QA team, such as business analysts, software developers, and anyone involved in the development process, to know how a particular product will undergo testing.
    • It acts as a definitive guide for the QA team to carry out the testing process.
    • This document entails all the information required for the testing process, making it easier for the management personnel to review and reuse it for further projects.

    Components of a Test Plan

    The following are the components of a test plan:

    • Scope: It defines the details of the goals or objectives of the project. In addition, it entails user scenarios that the testers need to use in testing.
    • Resource Allocation: It involves details that help testers which resources to use at a specific level of testing or any point in testing.
    • Environment: It involves the details of the test environment, such as its availability, configuration, and nature.
    • Defect Management: It details everything about the defect or bug found while testing the software product . It includes how-to and to whom the testers should report the bugs or defects.
    • Schedule: This provides testers with information about the start time of tests and the deadlines to deliver the test results.
    • Risk Management: It entails all possible risks that may occur during the testing process so that testers can take all the preventive measures.
    • Tools: This component describes what tools testers should use for testing, bug reporting, and other activities.
    • Exit Parameters: It includes all the details of when the testing should be terminated.

    How to Create a Test Plan?

    The following are the steps involved in creating a test plan:

    1. Analyzing the Product

    It is not possible to test any product without knowing its details. Therefore, it is essential to learn about that project thoroughly before creating a plan.

    Also, it becomes necessary to know about the clients and the customers who are going to use the product. Moreover, this step helps you find answers to the following important questions:

    • Who will use the product?
    • What is the primary purpose of the product?
    • How will the product function?
    • What are the hardware and software specifications of the product?

    To find answers to these questions, you need to do the following activities:

    • Review the project documentation to understand the product’s features and its working.
    • Collaborate with clients, developers, and designers to gain more information about the product.

    2. Defining the Test Strategy

    In the creation of a test plan, defining the test strategy is the critical step. Basically, test managers create the test strategy, which is a high-level document that details the entire activities the testers need to take during the testing process.

    This test strategy document defines the following:

    • The objectives of the project and roadmap to accomplish them.
    • The amount of time and effort required to complete testing on the product.

    Additionally, the test strategy document must entail the following details:

    • Scope of Testing: It defines the components of the software product that the testers have to test. These components may be hardware, software, or middleware.
    • Types of Testing: The test strategy document also describes what different types of software testing the testers should perform on the software product. This is because each type of software testing uncovers different types of bugs and errors.
    • Risks and Issues: This document also specifies all the possible risks and issues that may be encountered during the testing process and their effects on the product. Some of these risks or issues include poor management, inadequate budget or resources, and tight deadlines.
    • Test Logistics: Test logistics include the name of all testers with the associated tests they need to perform. Moreover, it also defines what tools to use and the start and end time of each test.

    3. Defining Objectives

    This step defines the aim and the expected results of the execution of each testplan. The primary aim of software testing is to uncover all the possible defects in the software product and deliver a defect-free product. Moreover, the test objectives should include:

    • A complete list of all the features of the software product that testers need to test.
    • The expected result for each aspect of the software product that requires testing. This will act as a benchmark for comparing the actual results.

    4. Establishing Test Criteria

    The test criteria are rules or guidelines that testers need to adhere to while performing testing on the product. There are two types of test criteria that are as follows:

    1. Suspension Criteria: Suspension criteria are benchmarks for suspending all tests. For example, if there are 50% failed test cases, the QA team suspends further testing of the software product until developers fix all the bugs found.
    2. Exit Criteria: Exit criteria specify the successful completion of a test phase. More specifically, they are the expected results of test cases, and the expected and the actual results should match each other for any test case to be successful. Also, it is important for the current testing phase to meet exit criteria before proceeding to the next testing phase.

    5. Planning Resource Allocation

    As its name suggests, this step includes planning how to allocate the available resources to accomplish each activity involved in the testing process. These resources include human effort, tools, equipment, or any other thing, required to complete testing the software product.

    This step in test planning is essential because it provides a clear idea of the number of resources required to accomplish the project. This, in turn, helps test managers determine approximately the schedule and estimation of the project.

    6. Planning the Setup of the Test Environment

    Basically, a test environment is a platform that combines hardware and software that testers use to execute test cases. It is always ideal to use real devices for testing any software product because testers can understand the real behavior of the software product. Using emulators or simulators may compromise test results.

    7. Defining Test Schedule and Estimation

    In this step, the test manager breaks large and complex testing activities into small tasks and estimates the time and effort required to carry out each small task. Also, the test manager determines who will perform the task in the specified time.

    Later, they create a schedule to accomplish each task. To create a test schedule, they consider the following factors:

    • Employee availability
    • Project deadline
    • Resource availability
    • Project risk
    • The estimation of project completion time

    8. Establishing Test Deliverables

    A list of all documents, tools, and other components or equipment that the test manager has to create and maintain throughout the testing process for testers to help them while testing.

    Test managers create test deliverables before, during, and after the testing phase of SDLC. Let us discuss these test deliverables below.

    Test Deliverables Before Testing

    Before the testing phase, test deliverables include the following:

    • Test plan document
    • Test cases document
    • The document of test design specification

    Test Deliverables During Testing

    The following are the documents that are required during the testing process:

    • Test data
    • Test scripts
    • Emulators or simulators
    • Test Traceability Matrix
    • Error and execution logs

    Test Deliverables After Testing

    After the testing process completes, the following test deliverables are required:

    • Test results
    • Defect report
    • Release notes

    Conclusion

    Here we have reached the end of our discussion on the test plan. It is the backbone, foundation, and also a blueprint for testers to carry out successful testing on the software products.

    Without a well-defined plan, it is obvious that the QA team will get confused about which testing activity to perform with undefined and unclear goals and deadlines. A test plan provides the QA team with a well-structured approach to testing.

    We hope this article has helped you expand your knowledge of the test plan. Still, if you have any queries regarding this topic, post them in the comments section below.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. What is a test case?

    A test case is a series of actions that testers perform to validate the specific functionality of an application for its correctness.

    2. What are the components of a test plan?

    The following are the components of a test plan:

    • Scope
    • Resource allocation
    • Environment
    • Schedule
    • Defect management
    • Risk management
    • Tools
    • Exit parameters

    3. What is the primary objective of a test plan?

    The primary objective of a test plan is to provide everyone involved in the testing process with a list of verification and validation objectives for a specific product and the detailed activities that the QA team will perform throughout the testing process.

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