test planning

Test planning is an essential aspect of software development that often gets overlooked or underestimated. In this blog, we’ll shed light on its significance and share practical tips to make the most out of it. 

What is test planning? 

In simple terms, test planning is the process of laying out the groundwork for your testing efforts.  

A Merit expert adds, “It involves defining your objectives, understanding the scope of testing, determining the resources needed, and establishing a timeline to keep things on track.” 

The process is typically conducted by the software testing or quality assurance (QA) team. Test managers and test leads coordinate the process, set objectives, and manage specific testing activities.

Testers and QA engineers execute the testing activities, while business analysts ensure the test plan aligns with project requirements. Sometimes, the development team may be involved in discussions to gain insights into testability. 

Why Test Planning is Critical to Success

Let’s say you’re developing a new software or product. Without a well-thought-out test plan, it’s like setting off on an adventure without a map or compass. You might stumble around, wasting time and resources, unsure of where to focus your testing efforts.  

Enter test planning, your trusty compass in the vast landscape of software testing. It provides a clear direction, ensuring you stay on course and efficiently navigate the testing process.  

Here are a few reasons why test planning is essential: 

  • Test planning establishes clear and well-defined test objectives that align with the overall project goals. It ensures that everyone involved knows what needs to be achieved through testing, making the entire process purposeful and focused. 
  • A comprehensive test plan includes risk assessment, where potential pitfalls and vulnerabilities are identified early on. By addressing these risks proactively, you can prevent costly errors and setbacks down the road. 
  • It enables effective resource management. You can allocate the right people, tools, and equipment at the appropriate stages of testing, ensuring maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness. 
  • With a well-structured timeline in place, test planning helps you keep your project on schedule. You can prioritise tasks and avoid last-minute rushes, ensuring timely delivery of your software or product. 
  • It fosters clear and consistent communication among team members. When everyone is on the same page regarding objectives, responsibilities, and timelines, collaboration becomes seamless and productive. 
  • Ultimately, it contributes to a higher level of quality assurance. By executing a well-organised testing process, you can identify and rectify issues early, leading to a more robust and reliable end product. 

Key Steps to Create an Effective Test Plan 

Writing a test plan doesn’t have to be daunting. Let’s break it down into simple steps with key aspects to consider when creating a test plan document. 

#1 Define testing objectives 

Clearly state what you want to achieve through testing. Usually, in this stage, the testing team might ask questions like; 

  • Which parts of the software do we need to test the most? 
  • In what ways will the user be using this software? 
  • What load and bandwidth does the software need to handle? 
  • What are key functionalities that the software must have to ensure business success? 
  • Does the software connect with other systems like APIs, payment gateways, social media apps and so on? 
  • Which computers or devices should the software be tested on? 

And so on. 

#2 Scope of testing 

Describe what’s in and out of scope for testing. Specify the features, modules, or platforms you’ll cover. Here are a few examples of what can be in and what can be outside the scope of testing of a web application. 

In Scope for Testing: 

  • User Registration: Testing the process where users sign up to create accounts on the website. 
  • Product Search: Verifying that users can search for products and get accurate results. 
  • Checkout Process: Ensuring that users can add items to their cart, proceed to checkout, and complete the purchase successfully. 
  • Login Functionality: Testing the login feature to verify that users can access their accounts securely. 

Out of Scope for Testing: 

  • Payment Gateway Integration: As it’s not yet ready, testing the integration with the payment gateway will be done in a later phase. 
  • Accounting and Finance Module: This module is still under development, so it will not be included in the current testing cycle. 
  • Mobile App Testing: Since the focus is on the web application, testing the mobile app version will be done separately. 
  • Third-Party API Integration: Testing the interaction with external APIs will be conducted in a subsequent testing phase. 

#3 Testing strategy and approach 

Decide on the testing methods you’ll use – like manual testing, automated testing, or both. Explain the rationale behind your approach. 

For example, if you’re testing a new mobile app that involves complex user interactions and user interfaces, manual testing might be more suitable because it allows a tester to explore the app thoroughly, clicking buttons, and interacting with the interface just like a real user would. Manual testing is also effective for one-time tests or scenarios where automation might be time-consuming to set up. 

On the other hand, if you’re developing a web application that requires frequent regression testing after each code change, automated testing could be the way to go here. With automation, you can create test scripts that can be run repeatedly, allowing you to quickly check for regressions and catch potential bugs faster. This method is efficient when you have a large suite of tests that need to be executed regularly. 

A combination of both is ideal when, say for example, you’re building a complex ecommerce website. Here, manual testing can explore different user scenarios, catch visual and usability errors, and ensure smooth user experience. And, automated testing can handle repetitive tasks like checking shopping cart and payment process functionality and so on. 

#4 Test environment and setup 

List the required hardware, software, and configurations needed for testing. For instance, when testing a web application, you will need computers with Windows and macOS, along with popular web browsers like Chrome and Firefox. These different setups will ensure the application works well on various operating systems and browsers that your end users will use.  

Additionally, you can set up virtual machines to simulate different network conditions to see how the application performs in real-world situations. Lastly, you need to configure the database in a specific way to check if the application interacts correctly with it. 

#5 Test data 

Define the test data required for various scenarios. For example, In login testing, your test data will consist of correct login details (username and password) of registered users to ensure they can access the system successfully.  

Additionally, you need to test with invalid credentials, such as an incorrect password or an unregistered username to verify that the application properly handles and displays appropriate error messages for login failures. 

#6 Test cases and procedures 

Detail the individual test cases and steps to be executed. Use a clear, structured format for easy understanding. For example, let’s say you’re testing the user registration process. This is one way you can define the steps.  

Test Case 1: User Registration 

Step 1: Go to the registration page 

Step 2: Enter valid details  

Step 3: Submit the form 

#7 Risk analysis and mitigation  

Identify potential risks to the testing process and how you plan to handle them. For example, a potential risk that can come up is unavailability of required test data. To mitigate it, you can work with stakeholders to ensure sufficient and representative test data is available beforehand.  

You can also create synthetic test data where necessary and establish data masking techniques to protect sensitive information while still providing realistic testing scenarios. 

#8 Defect management 

Explain how you’ll track and manage defects, including the tools you’ll use and the severity prioritisation. For example, you can define that defects will be logged in JIRA, and high-priority issues will be addressed within 24 hours. 

#9 Schedule and timeline 

Create a timeline with testing milestones and deadlines. Include contingency time for unforeseen delays. 

#10 Exit criteria 

Define the conditions to determine when testing is complete. 

For example, the exit criteria for a web application will be something like this – for a web application, the exit criteria include 95% test coverage for critical features, no critical defects, and response time below 3 seconds. Obtaining user acceptance from stakeholders and regression tests pass without failures. All test documentation needs to be updated and complete, signifying completion of testing. 

Merit’s Expertise in Software Test Automation 

Merit is a trusted QA and Test Automation services provider that enables quicker deployment of new software and upgrades. 

Reliable QA solutions and agile test automation is imperative for software development teams to enable quicker releases. We ensure compatibility and contention testing that covers all target devices, infrastructures and networks. Merit’s innovative testing solutions help clients confidently deploy their solutions, guaranteeing prevention of defects at a very early stage.  

To know more, visit: https://www.meritdata-tech.com/service/code/software-test-automation/ 

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