The act of designing and maintaining a Test Plan is the most contentious of all the jobs a Test Lead or Test Manager does.

There are so many different viewpoints on this subject.

  • What is the purpose of a test plan?
  • When should a Software Test Plan be created?
  • What should be included in a test plan?
  • Is it necessary to update a Test Plan on a regular basis? Is it even necessary to update it?
  • When it comes to Agile vs. Waterfall projects, how do you handle Test Plans?
  • Is a test strategy the same as a test plan?

And everything else that comes to mind.

In an A-to-Z tutorial, I already covered the software testing process. Regardless of the methodology (Waterfall, Agile, Scrum, Extreme Programming, Test Driven Development, V model, etc.) or enablers (Traditional Testing, Exploratory Tests, Smoke Tests, Black Box Tests, White Box Tests, etc.) you use, the principles I discuss in the A-to-Z guide apply to your project or Testing team.

As a follow-up to the A-to-Z tutorial, I’d like to devote this blog to solely discussing the Software Test Plan (and Test Strategy).

“In this blog, I am NOT about to introduce yet another software test plan template.”

Hours, days, and weeks are spent by teams and organizations designing and reinventing the Software Test Plan. If you look up “test plan template” on the internet, you’ll find hundreds of various variants, ranging from generic to detailed (like one specially tuned for Performance Testing).

What we’re going to do today is look at how to make a Software Test Plan template that works for you, your scenario, your team, your projects, and your company.

We’ll go over the data you’ll need to collect and the people you’ll need to talk to.

We’ll go through how to time the preparation of the Test Plan as well as the level of detail you should record at each stage of your project.

We’ll talk about why you need it.

Finally, using the Test Strategy vs Test Plan – Checklist, we’ll show how to quickly and efficiently develop a Software Test Plan (a downloadable version of the checklist is available in the article further below).

Why do we need test plans?

Let’s start with the most fundamental question.

“Knowing Why You Need a Software Test Plan Will Aid You in Creating a Template That Covers All the Bases.”

What is the purpose of test plans? What role do they play in the planning and execution of your Software Testing projects?

Understanding why a Software Test Plan is required can assist you in creating a template that covers all bases.

In conclusion,

  • You’ll require test plans to document and explain your organization’s testing approach and scope for the projects and teams you lead.
  • Setting expectations with your stakeholders about how your Testing team would engage with a project or program, as well as the activities they will do, is easier when you communicate a plan.
  • More significantly, the Test Plan specifies which activities your team will avoid.
  • Stakeholders are aware of when they may expect to receive testing progress reports, as well as the artefacts that will deliver these updates.
  • Test plans assist you in identifying any missing elements by allowing others to assess and add to your understanding of the testing scope, risks, and concerns.
  • A robust test plan will also assist you in forecasting and planning enough resource support for all of the projects in which your team is involved.
When do you start creating a test plan?

This is the deciding factor. Every Test Manager is plagued by this question.

I appreciate that this question may be difficult for some of you. And things get even more convoluted when we include in your unique conditions, such as technology, project kind, and technique.

But, to me, the solution is straightforward.

Start Early

When I first started as a Test Manager, I made it a point to get engaged with a project as soon as possible. Depending on the project and technique, this may suggest I was working on it on my own time, which would make it non-billable. This was due to the fact that testers were not expected to begin working on such projects until at least the middle of the Development phase.

I was able to better comprehend the project scope and high-level requirements by becoming involved early – even if it was on my own time – than I could have otherwise. I was a part of system design talks that I would not have been a part of otherwise. I learned a lot more about the project and the issues it faced by devoting a few (free) hours per week leading up to the Testing phase.

Based on my understanding of the project and what it attempted to achieve, I would publish a draught Test Plan and Strategy. The draught may be complete even before the developers begin coding.

How does this help?

  • By releasing a draught – although high-level – Software Test Plan (and Strategy) early in your project, you’re alerting a large stakeholder group to the project’s Testing requirements.
  • You offer your stakeholders and teams plenty of time to identify any testing-related risks, issues, or dependencies before the testing begins.
  • You give yourself enough time to address any big roadblocks.
  • For example, due to particular needs, you may need to construct and deploy a standalone Test environment separate from the ones used by your project area.
  • Your project team and stakeholders can provide input on any missing or inconsistent parts, allowing you to rectify them before any testing begins.

To summaries, getting a draught out the door as early as possible in your project is simply excellent practice. Unexpected concerns can be detected and treated sooner than they would otherwise.

Why (and when) are Test Strategy and Test Plan separate?

You may want to keep a distinct Test Strategy and Test Plan depending on the size and scope of your project, program, or product. Alternatively, you may combine both the Test Strategy and the Test Plan into one form.

A software project’s or program’s Test Strategy identifies components that are universal to all test initiatives. At a high level of detail, test plans describe what to test, how to test, when to test, and who will test the system or product being tested.

If you’re managing a large IT project, you might wish to keep an overarching Test Strategy document that outlines important enablers, risks, and metrics, as well as distinct test plans for different test activities.

It’s common to establish and maintain a Test Plan document particular to a small IT project, or one of the many projects or subprojects inside a major IT program. Where one exists, this Test Plan will relate to a ‘mother’ document – the Test Strategy – and inherit some critical qualities like as methodology, standards, processes, risks, issues, environments, and so on.

“Are you sure you need two documents when one can do the job admirably?”

You may want to keep both a Test Strategy and a Test Plan on small projects. It’s your decision, but I wouldn’t advise it. You’ll see why when you look at Table 1 below.

Click here to obtain an Excel file that shows the different information parts and the level of depth you may expect to cover in a Test Strategy vs. a Test Plan document:

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should cover practically everything you’d want to include in a Software Test Plan document. Include any areas that you believe should be included but aren’t (and let us know).

Following up on my previous point on keeping both a Test Strategy and a Test Plan on smaller projects, you’ll see that many of the 50+ attributes are shared by both the Test Strategy and the Test Plan in Table 1.

When you’re working on a tiny or isolated project, you’re faced with a simple choice. Do you require two distinct documents, each capable of performing admirably?

Easily finding a Sample Test Plan template online

As I previously stated, there are numerous sample test plans available. Investigate and adopt one (or several!) that best suits your company’s needs. And, of course, customize, customize, customize – to meet your project’s requirements.

I’m not picky when it comes to templates; whatever works, works. However, I am conscious of the requirement to gather a minimum set of data in each and every Test Plan. This is where the checklist we provided can help.

When you customize the table to fit your or your team’s unique situation, your team will have a handy reference point to turn to whenever they’re putting together a Test Strategy or Plan.

For more info:

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