How to Write a Good Test Plan
A well-designed test plan is important in enabling effective planning, coordination, and execution of testing activities. It is more than just documentation, as it directly contributes to achieving better software quality, raising customer satisfaction, and overall success in the project's end product.
Best Practices for Creating a Test Plan
In this post, we will explore the key elements and best practices for writing a well-structured and effective test plan.
1. Planning and Communication
Providing a clear and precise outline of the testing process timelines, testing approach, and objectives is a must for a fine test plan. This ensures that all team members are on the same page which minimizes misunderstandings.
To stay on track with the test plan, add a short 15-minute daily meeting in which the team may share valuable info. Start a weekly meeting where information about status updates, feedback, and priorities can take place. After a meeting concludes, create meeting notes and make them available in a place where all of the testing team members can access and see important information.
With sufficient planning and effective communication, potential risks and issues can be identified, eliminated, and addressed the right way, leading to more effective testing processes.
2. Scope and Coverage
A test plan identifies the features and functionalities that need to be tested. It helps to understand the depth and breadth of the testing effort, ensuring that all necessary and critical areas of the software are covered.
The scope includes the functionality that is being targeted for delivery, the platforms to be tested on, and the product areas that are affected by the development. It is crucial to define a precise testing scope as it establishes expectations and objectives. The scope can be extended to setting criteria, for example, device type - phones and not tablets, as well as minimum operating system versions. Testing scope devices can be prioritized based on specific testing requirements, time and budget constraints, and high-risk areas.
It is recommended that developers and testers come together and review the testing scope to avoid unnecessary tests and suggest needed areas of testing.
3. Selecting Platforms for Testing
Most of the time, the testable platforms are defined by the product itself, meaning that mobile application testing done on desktop operating systems would not make sense.
For web application testing, it is important to understand which desktop operating systems and browsers are the most popular so that the testing focuses more on using those. For example, according to analytics provided by the US government, macOS users tend to use Safari more than any other browsers, while, for WindowsOS, Chrome is the most popular choice. The bare minimum in this case would be to test Windows / Chrome and Mac / Safari. To extend testing platform coverage, Mac devices can also be tested with the second and third most popular browsers - Chrome and Firefox. As for Windows, it can be tested with Edge and Firefox, and, in addition, the Windows platform can be supplemented with a different version - Windows 10 or 11.
4. Selecting Test Devices
After the platforms have been decided, a variety of devices need to be included in the test run that supports the platforms. The testing devices must cover:
- A broad range of user configurations
- Popular devices such as flagship phones
- Devices with varying hardware
- Devices operating on various types of networks
In a perfect world, a test plan should include a list of the most popular devices, running the latest operating systems, but performing a sanity check for older devices does not hurt, as they may still be used by users.
5. Resource Allocation
Experienced engineers, that have greater testing and product knowledge, can quickly get a hold of the software’s functionality, and raise potential issues. Assigning a knowledgeable tester to perform functional and exploratory testing can greatly improve the product and allow the development teams to release the product with confidence. Sometimes, it is a very good choice to add a junior tester, as they may see things in different ways that can help to see overlooked bugs and reveal mistakes in test cases. I would say it is a must to have knowledgeable testers, but often we need someone with a fresh perspective.
6. Creating and Adding existing Test Cases
Test cases can be time-consuming, but they make a great addition to a successful test run. They provide well-defined testing instructions for testers to meet the specified acceptance criteria. Test cases from older test runs can be reused, but make sure they are refactored properly according to the functionality of the testable product. It is good to remember that test cases that have only positive test scenario tend to miss issues that could arise otherwise and not only testing where everything works as it should.
7. Issue Verification
Issue verification is a testing-specific activity that should be done as a part of the test plan. It is a small part of the test plan because it is very specific and can be verified in a comparably short time. Issue verification involves systematically checking and confirming that any reported or identified issues, bugs, or problems within the software or product have been addressed and resolved appropriately. It is done to ensure that specified requirements are met.
The issue verification during the test plan might reveal some specific issue that needs more attention; this also might help in deciding the priorities of testing. By conducting issue verification, testers ensure that the software is moving closer to meeting its quality goals, and that any potential roadblocks or concerns are addressed promptly to enhance the overall product quality.
It’s good to listen to what the team has to say. Both experienced and junior testers might have some insights, suggestions, and observations. This information can be used to enhance future test plans, testing strategies, and overall testing practices.
In addition, testers may have challenges or specific issues during the testing process which can be taken as a lesson to help minimize future occurrences.
Common Mistakes When Creating a Test Plan
- Lack of traceability in the test plan may lead to the inability to track and verify whether all the required functionalities and business requirements have been tested, which can result in incomplete coverage and missed critical areas. Incomplete mapping, outdated information, and lack of visibility can lead to confusion and hinder effective test plans.
- Poor documentation may lead to a lack of clarity, difficulties, and improperly tested products. It is essential to understand the importance of documentation, taking into account that it includes vital information, and helps to stay on track.
- Insufficient planning can lead to multiple issues, including inadequate allocation of resources such as time, engineers, and testing environments. The results of this can be painful starting with delays in the product release, unexpected costs, and lower-quality products—so be sure to invest enough time and effort into planning.
To summarize, in creating a strong test plan, it is advised to:
- Clearly define testing objectives and scope, ensuring clear communication of goals and expectations.
- Choose the platforms for testing, considering the target audience, devices, and systems they use.
- Allocate resources effectively, including personnel and test environments.
- Design and refactor test cases and scenarios to cover key functionalities.
- Ensure that known issues are thoroughly tested and verified.
- Promote an environment where testers are encouraged to share valuable insights, observations, and suggestions, establishing a feedback loop that fosters continuous improvement.
Need help creating an effective test plan? Our experienced engineers can assess your current plan and provide guidance on improvements. Contact us to get started.