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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What are different functional specifications while drawing a test plan?

The successful completion of the software testing cycle depends entirely up on the quality of its test plan. Any test plan is composed of certain specifications which are not to be missed if you want your plan to be effective. Specifications are of two types namely:

1. Functional specifications and
2. Design specifications.

What are functional specifications?

- Functional specifications which are nothing but a formal document that is created for the purpose of describing a detailed overview of the software system’s or application’s intended functions and capabilities.

- It describes in detail the appearance of the software application as well as how it is to interact with the users.

- The functional specifications can be thought of as guidelines or references by the program developers and programmers while the development of the software is in progress.

- The functional specifications for the software system or application that are equipped with some windows and dialogs are aimed at showing the visual appearance of its user interface and also to give a detailed description of all the possible inputs from the users and the reactions of the application to them.

- A functional specification may or may not include a formal description of the dependency of the application on other programs or applications, usability criteria and user tasks.

- To define a functional specification formally we can say that it is to describe the solution technically and is also used as a representation of the contract between a client and project development team.

- It forms the basis for building any application.

What are different functional specifications while drawing a test plan?

- While drawing the test plan, the program manager baselines the functional specifications which are placed under the change control since it sustains all the information that is needed to design the solution.

- Functional specifications seek to incorporate logical, physical and conceptual designs in to the solution for making it more efficient.

- All the high level design decisions regarding the network configurations and server management should also be included under the functional specifications.

What aspects should a functional specification include?

A typical functional specification describes the following aspects:

1. Summary of the project scope (as agreed up on the by both parties in a business context).

2. Any additional requirements

3. The design of the solution

4. Specifications of the components that form a part of the solution

5. Features:
Documentation of all the planned features along with their quantitative specifications such as performance metrics, concurrent user capacity, and data base capacity and so on.

6. Security requirements:
Specifications regarding the strength of security concerning the functions that involve working with sensitive data like transactions. The encryption standards that have been implemented in the security mechanism should also be mentioned along with the location and type of the security mechanisms.

7. Legal requirements:
These must be clearly stated along with the custom codes to me business policy, custom user scenario or a governmental requirement etc.

8. Risk assessment:
This documentation must include the descriptive details about:
- potential vulnerabilities,
- mitigation strategies and
- the impact of the above strategies and vulnerabilities on the application.

There should be no ambiguity in the description of the above stated aspects and the quantitative measurements should be used wherever possible.

What aspects should a functional specification should not include?

Now we list the aspects that should not be included in the functional specifications:
1. Detailed data base schema
2. Details of the software architecture
3. Details about the programming language

Data base details suffice the purpose of the functional specifications and save the development team from extraneous efforts.
The functional specifications are changed only with the due permission of the client. Functional specifications are the living documents i.e., they are continuously updated throughout the development cycle and show how a solution can be deployed in a timely and cost effective manner.

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