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Friday, April 13, 2012

What are the items covered in a test plan?

One cannot expect the two cycles namely the STLC or software testing life cycle and the SDLC or software development life cycle to succeed without a test plan. Like a lamp is needed to guide one along a dark path, similarly a test plan guides the whole software testing process in to the right direction and keeps the whole development process on track.

Without a test plan you won’t be able to know that whether or not you are building the right software artefact and even if you are building the right one, are you building it in the right way? ; realizing later will prove to be a heavy burden for you and also it will cost you double the initial cost.

What does a test plan do?

- The test plan covers up various aspects of the process of software testing.

- To say it simple, a test plan lays out a systematic approach for the process of software testing of a proposed software system or application.

- By looking at the test plan one gets to what will be the work flow and how it will take place.

- Preparation of a test plan involves the documentation of the strategy that is to be followed during the testing process.

- Firstly the users’ requirements documentation prepared in the requirements analysis phase is studied thoroughly and understood by the test engineers and then they figure out all the possible methods and techniques that can be employed to satisfy all the requirements.

- Finally, all the requirements that can be incorporated in to the software are listed and those which cannot be are informed to the user.

- Accordingly, the requirements are resolved and a test plan is formulated for achieving all the objectives.

Items covered in test plan

A typical test plan has to have one or more of the below mentioned items according to the norms and responsibilities levied on the organization:

(a) Compliance test or design verification
- This is the first step in the testing process and involves the development of the smaller units or modules of the software system or application after they have been approved by the senior developers or testers.

- In this, the objectives of the software system are established and defined. But, it is not defined how that system will be designed or achieved.

- It also involves the generation of user requirements documentation.

(b) Production test or manufacturing
- This step is executed when the software product is being assembled and for the purposes of controlling the quality.

(c) Commissioning test or acceptance
- This step is carried out before the final product is released to the client or the users.

(d) Repair test
It can be performed any time during the service life of the software.

(e) Regression test

Test plan according to IEEE 829 standard

The level of the design of the test plan depends on the complexity of the software program. IEEE has laid down what all the items are to be covered by a test plan via the 829 standard for software test documentation:

- Test plan identifier
- Background
- Introduction
- Assumptions
- Test items
- Features to be tested: functionalities and requirements that have to be tested.
- Features not to be tested: functionalities and requirements that don’t have to be tested with reasons.
- Approach: description of the data flow, live execution, simulation and philosophy behind it.
- Item pass/fail criteria: expected outcomes and tolerances.
- Suspension criteria and resumption criteria: description of the check points.
- Test deliverable
- Testing tasks
- Environmental needs
- Responsibilities
- Staffing and training needs
- Schedule
- Risks and contingencies
- Approvals

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