Guide on Planning a Test (Plus Importance of a Test Plan)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 10, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Before developers release software products to the public, it's vital they determine they perform as expected. To achieve this, developers employ a comprehensive test plan. Understanding how to conduct a test can help you release functional, quality products and advance your career as a software developer. In this article, we discuss planning a test, highlight its importance, and outline how to plan a test.

Meaning of planning a test

Planning a test is a quality assessment process essential to test a software product successfully. A test plan is a document highlighting the project team's strategy, schedule, estimation, resources, deliverables, and objectives for testing software. It's a guide that details how the project team can execute the software test for the best results. The test plan determines the test's scope, duration, and cost. It may change as the project progresses, and it's essential to ensure it remains current and updated. Designing a comprehensive test plan can sometimes take up to one-third of your total project time.

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Importance of planning a test

Here are some benefits of creating a test plan:

Transparency

Usually, the quality assessment (QA) team creates the test plan, though they may take contributions from other departments. A test plan makes it easier to keep non-QA members informed about the process. This is important because insight into the quality assessment process can aid other departments as marketing and business management. It can also be helpful for a company to show its testing process to customers.

Continuity

Test plans contain details like scope, estimations, and optimal testing types. These details can aid future software testing, conserving valuable time and human resources. Future teams can either re-use previous test plans or use them as a basis to develop more comprehensive ones.

Guidance

The major function of a test plan is to guide the testing procedure of software products. A comprehensive test plan contains allocated resources, employee roles, test scope, and scheduling details. This means all team members can refer to the test plan to understand their duties and the criteria for measuring performance.

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Cost-saving

A comprehensive test plan resolves important details like the test scope and how many resources the business can dedicate. Resolving these issues ahead of the test can help businesses save valuable time and resources. In addition, the business can channel these resources into other foundational processes like product development. A comprehensive test plan also reduces the risk and cost of introducing a dysfunctional product to the market that requires a recall.

How to plan tests

Here's an overview of some steps you can follow to plan a software test:

1. Assess the product

The first step to testing a product is to collect sufficient information about it. The information you collect during the product assessment stage forms the basis of the testing criteria. Assessing a product involves determining its intended purpose. To do this, it's important the quality assessment team determines the product's target market, functions, mode of operation, and essential components. You can obtain relevant information from product development, marketing, software design, and other relevant departments.

For instance, if you're testing a website, you can approach the business development team to understand the website's purpose and intended audience. You can review the product documentation to understand the website's features and functions. You can also discuss this with the web development team for more technical understanding.

2. Develop a test strategy

The next step is developing a test strategy. This aspect of the test plan details how you intend to execute the test. It also helps in determining the cost implication of the project. Here are the vital aspects of a test strategy:

Define the testing scope

The first aspect of developing a test strategy is to define its scope. This is the extent to which you plan to test the software. Any software component you decide to test is within scope, while those you don't intend to test are out of scope. This process helps guide the project and can be a way to conserve limited resources.

To determine the test scope, inquire into the client's requirements. Other factors that can influence the scope are the client's budget and your team's competence. For instance, suppose a customer employs you to do a full software test on their product. After reviewing their budget, you discover they can't afford a full test. You can determine which tests are vital and put those that aren't out of scope.

Decide on a testing type

After defining the test scope, you can decide what testing types to use. A testing type is a standardized procedure for evaluating a software's competence. Here are some testing types you may use:

  • Unit test: This testing type evaluates the smallest components of a software's design. It can be an individual component or a group of interconnected ones.

  • Integration test: This testing type involves combining multiple components to assess their output. The four integration tests are top-down, bottom-up, sandwich, and big bang tests.

  • System test: This testing type ensures the software can function on various operating systems. Here, the testers focus on the software's performance rather than design.

  • Acceptance testing: This testing type helps the client determine whether the product can meet actual business demands. Another name for this testing type is user acceptance testing.

Determine risks and issues

A risk is any problem that might occur in the future and stop the software from satisfying its purpose. Assessing and identifying project risks is essential to building a reliable software product. Generally, the two types of risks are project and product risks. Project risks are issues that can affect the project, while product risks are issues with the product that prevent proper function. This stage is to identify and assess the probability and impact of each risk while developing safeguards and measures.

For instance, a client employs you to develop a test plan for their website. After your risk assessment, you discover that the client's staff doesn't have the skills to operate the website. You can recommend a training program to mitigate the risk and provide the contact details of a specialist as a backup plan.

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Design test logistics

This aspect of the test includes details on the test's execution. The main components of test logistics are the identity of the testers and the test schedule. You can select testers from your team based on your knowledge of their expertise. Prioritize skills like attention to detail, effective communication, and technical expertise. Finally, the project can start when all relevant resources and processes are ready.

3. Highlight the test objective

The test objectives are what the team aims to achieve after executing the test. Generally, all software tests aim to ensure the product is free of errors and can satisfy its purpose. To determine the specific objectives for a test, list all the components in scope. Then, highlight the performance measurement criteria for determining test success.

For instance, suppose a client hires you to test a mobile banking application. The functions you've identified for testing are depositing money and processing payments. Your test objective may be that the application can deposit money without errors and process payments within a specific time.

4. Identify test criteria

Test criteria are the metrics you use to assess the success of a test. They're essential to know when a product is ready for the market or requires more work. The types of test criteria are suspension and exit criteria. The suspension criteria are how many a test can fail before the team suspends the test for further product development.

Exit criteria are how many tests you require the product to pass before it's ready for the market. For instance, suppose a client hires you to test a mobile gaming application. You can set the criteria at an 85% pass rate and a 30% suspension rate.

5. Plan how to allocate resources

This aspect of the test plan involves identifying all the resources you require for a project. It also involves planning how to allocate them based on project demands. There are two major resources:

  • Human resources: Human resources are the people that comprise your project team. Typically, that includes a test manager, tester, developer, test administrator, and quality assurance specialists.

  • System resources: These are the technical resources you use for testing. They include servers, networks, computers, and test tools.

6. Plan the test environment

The test environment is the software and hardware the team uses to test software. You can collaborate with the product development team to determine the ideal test environment. Ensure it's similar to settings where customers are likely to use the product.

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7. Project estimation and scheduling

This aspect of test planning involves determining the effort you require from each team member to complete the project. You can do that by listing each team member, their roles, and the efforts you estimate they require. Then, you can use that information to design a project schedule and allocate resources.

8. Compile test deliverables

Test deliverables are all the tools, units, and documents you created to support the testing process. There are different deliverables for the periods before, during, and after testing. Some common examples are test scripts, simulators, defect reports, and test design specifications.

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