Practical Guide to Creating and Managing Effective Test Cases

Practical Guide to Creating and Managing Effective Test Cases

If the pen is the writer’s tool and the paintbrush is the artist’s, then test cases are the software tester’s tool.

When I started working as a software tester, I didn't have a clear picture of how to write test cases, what test cases should look like, or what they should contain. But over time, I realized that without well-designed test cases, it is not possible to prove the quality of any software, product, or feature.

In this blog post, my aim is to introduce you to the process of creating efficient test cases. Let's get started by understanding the key aspects of test case creation.

Understanding test cases

What is a test case? 

There are different definitions for test cases, but the most widely accepted definition is that a test case is a set of detailed instructions and conditions that specify how a tester is conducting testing on a particular software application or its features. This includes information about the steps to follow, the data inputs to consider, preconditions, and the expected results. The main objective of a test case is to determine if the software does what it is expected to do.

In essence, a test case is a clear direction that takes the tester through the process of testing functionality, performance, or other aspects of a software feature. The test cases are created to validate a particular scenario, guaranteeing that the software fulfills its requirements and functions correctly without any errors or failures. Software testers can confirm whether the product meets its business and software requirements by running test cases. 

Test cases are often confused with test scenarios, however the difference between a test case and a test scenario is evident. In short, a test scenario is a high-level document that describes the end-to-end functionality to be tested. There is a clear focus on what to test and how to test it. For example: “Verify login functionality”. Test cases, on the other hand, are derived from high-level test scenarios, which are based on software and business requirements documentation and are often used to guide QA teams.

Purpose of test cases

Test cases in software testing are essential for ensuring the quality, reliability, and functionality of a software application and confirming that it meets the specified requirements set by stakeholders. Here are some of the key objectives and goals of test cases:

  1. Validating requirements. Test cases are derived from software requirements. Their primary purpose is to verify that the implemented features align with the documented requirements. This ensures that the software meets the intended functionality and user expectations.
  2. Identifying defects. One of the main purposes of test cases is to uncover defects or issues in the software. Through the systematic testing of different components of an application, testers can determine whether there are discrepancies between expected and actual behavior. Testers report any defects to developers by writing effective bug reports. This early detection of defects is important in identifying and fixing issues before the software becomes available to users.
  3. Ensuring functionality. Test cases are designed to check the quality and reliability of the software features. This helps ensure that the software performs as intended, satisfies performance requirements, and offers a positive user experience.
  4. Regression testing. Test cases play a vital role in regression testing. Regression testing involves re-testing the existing functionalities after any code refactoring. It ensures that the new changes made to the code, software updates, or bug fixes do not unintentionally introduce any side effects or break existing functionality. This process helps maintain the stability and integrity of the software across different development cycles.
  5. Documentation and knowledge transfer. Usually, test cases are utilized to document the testing process. This documentation provides detailed instructions on how to execute tests and an understanding of the correct behavior of software in various scenarios under different conditions. Consequently, this helps testers to follow a systematic approach and enables team members to understand the testing strategy.
  6. Risk mitigation. Testing is crucial for software development, and test cases play a vital role in this process. Test cases are designed to cover high-priority and high-risk areas of the software. By testing critical functionalities and scenarios, testers can assess the potential impact of defects on the overall system. This helps them prioritize testing efforts accordingly and mitigate the risks associated with the software.
  7. Continuous improvement. Systematic execution of test cases helps improve the overall quality of the software. When defects/bugs are discovered, test cases can be modified and updated to improve test coverage and effectiveness over time.

Creating test cases 

QA engineer writing a test case

Now that we have an idea of what a test case is and what its purpose is, we can explain how to develop a test case. A well-crafted test case usually includes several key elements that provide information on what needs to be tested, how to execute the test, and what the expected outcome is. 

Key elements of a test case

Let’s say that we need to test a scenario titled “Verify login functionality for Instagram app” and we are supposed to create a passing positive test case to check this functionality.

The components of the test case would include: 

  1. Test case ID. This is a unique identifier for each test case that typically includes numbers and letters, which makes it easy to organize test cases into test suites.


  1. Test case title/summary. A brief description of the functionality or feature that the test case is verifying.

“Verify login functionality with valid credentials”

  1. Objective. A statement or description of the goal of the test and the specific thing that needs to be validated.

“To ensure that users can successfully log in to the application using valid credentials.”

  1. Preconditions. Any conditions that must be met before the test case can be executed.

“The application is installed from the app store, and the user has a valid account.”

  1. Test data. The required data or inputs for executing the test case.
  • “Username: Miketest,” 
  • “Password: Test@Test”
  1. Test steps. Detailed instructions on how to execute the test case including the actions that must be taken to complete the test. 

Step 1: Open the application.

Step 2: Enter the valid username and password in the fields.

Step 3: Click the “Login” button.

Step 4: Verify that the user is redirected. 

  1. Expected result. An outline of how the application should respond to each test step.

“After entering the valid username and password, the user is successfully logged in, and the home page is displayed.”

  1. Actual result. The observed outcome or behavior during the test execution.

“Application functions as expected.”

  1. Status (Pass/Fail). Based on the expected result and the actual result, the test status can be marked as Pass/Fail. There are also  other statuses, like Not executed when a test case is marked to be executed later or Blocked when a test case can not be executed due to some other issue in the application.


  1. Attachments/References. Any additional documentation, screenshots, or references that support the test case, like links to user stories or requirements that the test is expected to verify.

“Attach a screenshot of the home page after successful login.”

  1. Post-conditions. The state of the application after the test case has been executed.

“The user remains logged in, and relevant data is displayed on the home page.”

  1. Test environment/Configuration. Contains information about the test environment, including hardware, software, and network configurations.
  • Device: iPhone 13 pro
  • Operating system: iOS 17.2.1
  • Network: data cellular/WIFI

Test cases are generally created during the test planning phase which is part of an SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle) when the requirements analysis of the testing process starts. Once the test cases are created, the test manager/engineer should approve them. When the developers finish building the product, it is sent to the testing team to start the testing process.

How to write good test cases?

  • Understand project requirements. Before writing any test cases, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the project's requirements. Analyze them carefully to determine the intended purpose of the software being developed, based on the provided business and software documentation. Avoid making assumptions or guesses when information is unclear. This will ensure that your test cases are accurate and effective. 
  • Use clear and simple language. When writing the test cases, use simple language that everyone can easily understand and follow, for example “Go to the website URL”, “Select the product from the menu”, and so on. 
  • Avoid unnecessary test steps. Be sure to avoid creating test cases that include any unnecessary test steps. 
  • Think like an end user. Never lose sight of the end user because the whole reason for creating test cases is to produce better products for the end users. Due to this, every test case needs to be created with the end user in mind, paying close attention to how the product will be used in particular. 
  • Ensure test cases are atomic. Each test case should be atomic. This means they should have a single objective and test only one functionality. 
  • Do not repeat test cases. Repetitive test cases are a waste of time and resources, if multiple tests can be executed using the same test case then use the test case ID to refer to that particular test case. 
  • Create test cases that are reusable and maintainable. Well-crafted test cases should be reusable and maintainable whenever possible. Reusable tests can save time when developing additional functionality, and only a few tests need to be run once. 
  • Use suitable design techniques. It's important to use appropriate test design techniques that are suited to your project's needs. Some examples include black box testing techniques, like boundary value analysis, equivalence partitioning, state transition, and error guessing. By using these techniques, you can create test cases based on researched standards and practices, which increases the likelihood of finding bugs in the software. 
  • Aim for complete test coverage. Achieve complete test coverage by creating test cases that cover the entire application. Also, to ensure all functions of a software application are tested, use a traceability matrix. 
  • Create positive and negative test cases. Use valid and invalid inputs to create both positive and negative test cases and ensure the stability and reliability of the software being developed.

Here is an example of what a good test case looks like:

Test case example in test management tool
Test case example in test management tool

Managing test cases

Test case management 

To improve your testing process, it is important to schedule your test cases and test suites in a way that organizes, documents, and tracks test cases and related activities during software testing. This can be achieved by using a test case management system. Test case management involves planning, designing, executing, and tracking results to ensure the quality and functionality of a software product. It is a framework that helps testers effectively manage testing. 

The main benefits of test case management include: 

  • Test case maintenance. Test case management systems allow testers to review and update test cases whenever there is a change in the business requirements. 
  • Test case reusability. Testers can remove test cases that are outdated and no longer compatible with the software application, or update and modify the existing ones as the software application evolves.
  • Test case prioritization. Test case management systems organize test cases in a logical and structured manner to help testers easily identify and navigate through them. They also prioritize test cases based on business priorities and risk assessments, focusing on critical functionalities and high risk areas. 
  • Test case version control. Testers can use version control for test cases to track changes, status, revisions, and updates.

Adequate test case management confirms that testing initiatives are comprehensive, structured, and aligned with project objectives. It encourages teamwork and provides valuable insights into the quality of the software being tested.

Features of test case management tools

Test case management tools are valuable resources that make the life of testers easier. These tools help in organizing, executing, and tracking the entire testing process efficiently. They streamline the creation, execution, and reporting of test cases, making it easier for testing teams to collaborate and manage their testing efforts.

The most useful features of test management tools are: 

  • Quick creation of test cases using the templates provided;
  • Automation tools to run test cases and record results;
  • Automated bug tracking with email notifications sent to developers whenever a defect is found;
  • Reduction in the time and effort necessary for testing;
  • Sophisticated dashboards for easy monitoring of test and bugs progress;
  • Easy setup and management of test environment settings by following instructions;
  • Accelerated testing process and improved team collaboration.

When selecting a tool for test case management, it is important to take into account various factors including ease of use, integration capabilities with your current tools, collaboration features, and the specific needs of your testing team. Every tool has its strengths, so choosing the one that matches your workflow and requirements is key to achieving successful test management. 

Here are some of the most popular test management tools: 

  • TestRail is a test management platform that helps organizations streamline their testing process. The user interface is intuitive and users can easily create test plans, test cases, manage their runs and track results. Also, it can be integrated with other project management tools (Jira, GitHub) and also offers comprehensive reporting and analytics dashboards to help in communicating in the team and assess the current level of risk of a new release.
  • Xray for Jira is a complete test management tool that helps you to organize, plan, execute and report progress of testing and readiness to deploy. Xray uses the Jira issue types, and it links all the requirements with the relevant test cases to ensure that no tests are missed. As Xray is natively integrated with Jira, both developers and testers work within the same ecosystem, which ensures transparency, visibility, and collaboration. This approach guarantees that every test is accounted for, each task follows the same workflow, and everyone is on the same page.
  • TestMonitor is a management tool with risk management features that enable you to create, track, and manage project requirements efficiently, ensuring that all essential functionalities are taken into account. Additionally, the tool provides a comprehensive risk management approach that identifies potential issues and their impact on your project, enabling you to mitigate them proactively.


Test cases play a critical role in the software testing process. They are not just intended to uncover bugs, but also to provide feedback on the software's performance and ensure it meets the desired quality standards. By adhering to the best practices outlined in this guide, including the importance of using a consistent format, writing detailed test steps, with all necessary information, and covering all possible scenarios, you can improve your testing process. Testing is not just a phase, but an ongoing process that should be given the necessary attention throughout the development lifecycle.

Want to streamline your QA processes and get the most out of your testing efforts? We can help. Get in touch to learn more about our software testing services.

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