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Write Your Software Testing Plan Today

White papers > Software Test Plans Page 1

 Write Your Software Testing Plan Today

 Quickly adapt our test plan template to your project


All software needs to be tested. In fact, software testing is a major part of the overall software development process that involves many people and countless hours of detailed work. Unfortunately, most testing efforts are under-planned: some software testing professionals work in the field for years without ever seeing a really comprehensive QA plan and test suite. Part of the problem is that QA efforts often begin too late in the release cycle when there is too much pressure to take shortcuts.

This white paper shows how ReadySET Pro can be used to quickly create a comprehensive system test suite with test cases. ReadySET Pro's unique content-rich templates help you write better test suites that can improve your product quality. These templates make the writing process much faster than starting from scratch, which means that you are more likely to be able to complete your plan, even under time pressure.

The figure below illustrates where your QA plan and test suite fit with other project documents. This white paper focuses on the yellow "Quality Assurance" box. Ideally, your testing documents are just part of an overall set of project documents. But even if you do not have the others, you will be able to follow the discussion of test planning documents.

Project Proposal
Business Need
Market Opportunity
Software Requirements Spec
Use Cases
Use Case Suite
Use Cases
Feature Specifications
Feature Set
Feature Specifications
Non-Functional Requirements
Environmental Requirements
Structural Design
Behavioral Design
User Interface
Build System
Target & Benefits
Target Market Segment
Claimed Customer Benefits
User Needs
Classes of Users
User Stories
Quality Assurance
QA Plan
Test Suite
Test Cases
Test Runs
Interview Notes
Requests from Customers

Software development projects that don't have enough test planning tend to bog down with defects that can put the entire project's success at risk. Test planning helps in the following specific areas:

Requirements Validation
Designing a system test suite forces you to deeply understand the requirements. As you understand the requirements more, you will notice incompleteness, ambiguity, and inconsistency. Correcting these problems early can speed up development and reduce the number of late requirements changes.
Testing Coordination
Testing involves many people working together over time. For the team to be effective, their efforts must be coordinated with a written plan.
Test Coverage
Testing only half of a large system is sure to allow thousands of defects into the shipping product. A QA plan is needed to set coverage criteria and evaluate coverage. A test suite must be carefully designed with the coverage criteria in mind.
Test Automation
Too often, QA teams hope to use automated testing, but end up stuck with ad-hoc manual testing. This happens because they never really formalize the requirements, so they must always rely on human judgment to evaluate test outputs. Creating automated test scripts without outlining the test suite is like writing code without a design document. The following diagram illustrates the gap between ad-hoc testing and automated testing, and how systematic testing with a test suite bridges that gap.
Ad-Hoc Testing
Just see if you can break it
Make up test cases "on the fly"
Human interpretation of requirements

Systematic Testing
Driven by explicit QA goals
Test suite designed for coverage
Tests specify expected output

Automated Testing
Driven by explicit QA goals
Test suite designed for coverage
Scripts need no human judgment

The rest of this white paper works through the steps shown in the diagram below. (You may notice that this is very similar to the use case writing steps.)

Use Case Writing Steps
1: Overall QA Planning
2: Outline the Test Suite
3: List Test Case Names
4: Write Some Test Case Descriptions
5: Write Selected Test Cases
6: Evaluate Test Cases

Note that in steps 4 and 5, we recommend that you only specify the most important test cases in detail. In any complex system, there will be a large number of potential test cases. We encourage you to take a breadth-first approach: map out your test case suite first, then fill in details incrementally as needed. This concept is key to getting the most value out of the limited time that you have for test planning.

Step One: Overall QA Planning

Software quality is not one-size-fits-all: different software products need different types of testing because they have different QA goals. For example, a real-time system may place much more priority of performance than would a typical desktop business application.

The task of QA planning is discussed in detail in the "Quality Throughout the Life-Cycle" white paper. The main parts of the overall QA plan are:

  • Select and prioritize quality goals for this release
  • Select QA activities to achieve those goals
  • Evaluate how well the activities support the goals
  • Plan the actions needed to carry out the activities

The overall QA plan addresses all quality activities. Quality can be achieved by building in better quality from the start, and by testing to find and remove defects. Specific QA activities include: coding preconditions, reviewing design and code, unit testing, integration testing, system testing, beta testing, using analysis tools, and field failure reports, among others. The rest of this paper will focus in on just the system testing activity.

How ReadySET Pro Helps

ReadySET Pro helps with every part of the overall QA plan. The ReadySET Pro QA plan template is pre-populated with detailed goals, activities, evaluation, a plan of action, and a built-in checklist. Adapting the QA plan to your project is largely a matter of "chipping away." That means, selecting the sample answers that fit best rather than writing new text. To see how fast and easy chipping away can be, see the Step-By-Step Demo.

ReadySET Pro users have reported that the QA plan template alone saved them an average of three hours. More importantly, a good QA plan can save many more hours later by reducing the number of defects. Use the ROI Calculator to see how the savings for the QA plan, test cases, and other documents really add up to save days or weeks of your project schedule.