Turn your manual testers into automation experts! Request a DemoStart testRigor Free

Test Plan Template

“Plan your work and work your plan” — Napoleon Hill

A test plan is an essential artifact for software testing, which is the backbone of all testing activities. The first step involves crafting a comprehensive test plan, whether it is manual testing, automation testing, or performance testing.

But what exactly does a test plan entail, and why is it necessary? If these questions bother you, this article might greatly help. Let’s delve into these topics and comprehensively understand a test plan, its significance, and its essential components and characteristics.

What is a Test plan?

Usually created by QA managers or leads, a test plan is a detailed document. It catalogs the test strategy, objectives, schedule, estimation, deliverables, risks, and resources required to test a product or service. In short, the test plan can be considered the instruction manual or blueprint for the entire testing process. It is always dynamic, updated as the project progresses, and the latest version is referred to.

The test plan document is shared with business analysts, project managers, and stakeholders to enhance the transparency level of the QA team’s work. Theoretically, the time allocated for creating it is not more than 1/3rd of the time allotted for the entire project.

Importance of the Test Plan

Below are the areas which highlight the test plan’s importance:

  • Identifies the required testing resources- hardware, software, testing tools, and personnel thereby helping with budgeting and resource allocation.
  • Provides clear guidance about conducting testing activities to the QA team.
  • Outlines the strategy and approach for testing, which helps ensure the testing process is systematic, organized, and has good coverage.
  • Identifies risks and creates contingency plans accordingly.
  • Predicts the time vs. effort ratio and how much cost would add to the product in case of delay.

Test Plan’s Objective

A test plan is a comprehensive guide that provides an overview of when to commence and conclude testing. It accurately estimates the resources needed to complete the tasks, setting a timeline based on the hours and workforce required. Like a prototype, it contains every detail from inception to completion of testing activities and helps formulate detailed tasks for each project module.

The test plan also serves as a rulebook, guiding the project’s progress phase by phase. It aids in identifying potential challenges in the project and proposing solutions. Furthermore, it considers all stakeholder interactions, ensuring they are systematically organized. Thus, a test plan maintains the project’s structure and efficiency.

Types of Test Plans

Mainly there are three types of test plans as follows.

Master Test Plan(MTP)

The master test plan is a comprehensive document that outlines and manages detailed testing steps at different levels. It overviews important decisions, strategies, and the effort required to test the project. It includes a list of tests to be performed and what parts of the project they cover. How different test levels are related to the coding tasks and strategies for executing these tests.

Phase Test Plan(PTP)

The phase test plan targets a specific testing phase or level, like unit, integration, system, or acceptance testing. It elaborates on the testing phase’s goals, methodology, resources, and timeline. They usually provide further information on the testing levels listed in the master testing plan, including testing schedules, benchmarks, activities, templates, etc.

Specific Test Plan

It refers to a specialized test plan created for major testing types, such as security testing, load testing, performance testing, etc. These plans detail the specific techniques, tools, objectives, and procedures relevant to the type of testing being conducted.

How Test Plan Differs from Test Strategy

The terms test plan and test strategy are frequently encountered in software testing, and often, they are misunderstood as the same. However, the truth is that they are distinct documents with different purposes and contents.

Let’s see what each one is taking care of.

Test Plan

  • It is a detailed document that outlines the scope, approach, resources, and schedule of intended test activities.
  • Identifies the items to be tested, the testing tasks and responsible team members for them, and any risks requiring contingency planning.
  • Test plans are usually specific to a particular project or system.

Test Strategy

  • It is a high-level document that defines the general approach, objectives, and guidelines for testing a product or system.
  • Focuses on the overall testing approach, methodologies, techniques, and tools used across multiple projects or systems.
  • Serves as a foundation for creating project-specific test plans, guiding how to conduct testing.

Read an article about the differences between the test plan and test strategy.

Components of a Test Plan

The structure and components of a test plan can vary depending on the organization or the specific project, but a typical test plan may include the following sections:

Test Plan Identifier: A unique identifier to distinguish a test plan from other documents.

Introduction: An overview of the test plan, scope, and objectives.

Test Items: A list of the software items that will be tested.

Approach: Describes the overall strategy and direction for testing, including what types of.

testing (e.g., functional, performance, security, etc.) will be covered.

Entry and Exit criteria: Explains the conditions that must be satisfied before starting and stopping the testing process.

Deliverables: Describes the outputs of the test process, such as test cases, test scripts, and test reports.

Testing Tasks: Specific tasks that need to be completed during testing.

Environmental Needs: Any hardware, software, or other conditions necessary for testing.

Training Needs: Specify the staff and skill levels required for test-related duties. Any specialized training needed to complete a task should also be indicated.

Responsibilities: Specify the roles and responsibilities of each team member involved in the testing process.

Schedule: Key dates and milestones for the testing process.

Risks and Mitigations: Identifies potential hazards in the testing process and how your team can mitigate those risks.

Template: The templates of all the documents used in the project. Also, all the test engineers will use only these templates in the project to maintain the consistency of the product.

Approvals: Specifies who must approve the test plan.

How to Write a Test Plan

Creating a test plan is a crucial step in managing the testing process. The IEEE 829 standard outlines steps to prepare a good test plan. Let’s look into more detail for each step.

Analyze the Product

Understanding the system requirements and conducting a comprehensive analysis are critical initial steps before drafting the test plan. Examining the product documentation and website provides foundational knowledge about the system. The product documentation, in particular, can offer deep insights into the software’s features and how it operates. Engaging in discussions with stakeholders, developers, and business analysts can further enhance the understanding of the product and contribute to successfully creating the test plan. Researching the client, their end-users, needs and expectations, and what they anticipate from the product will provide essential information.

Consider the following questions during the analysis:

  • What is the system designed to do?
  • What is its intended use?
  • Who will use it, and how will it operate?
  • What are the development requirements?

Design the Test Strategy

The next step is creating a test strategy, a high-level document typically designed by a test manager. This document outlines the testing project goals, strategies, estimated effort, and cost associated. It should elaborate on the following:

  • Testing Scope: Specifies the software components (hardware, software, middleware) that will be subjected to testing and those that will not.
  • Testing Type: Describes the types of tests to be employed in the project. Each type of test is designed to identify specific bugs, so this is an essential aspect of the strategy.
  • Risks and Issues: Outlines potential risks during testing, such as tight deadlines, inefficient management, inadequate or incorrect budget estimates, and the impact these risks could have on the product or the business.
  • Test Logistics: Lists the testers (or their skill sets) and the tests they will execute. It also includes the tools and the schedule established for testing.

Define the Test Objectives

This stage sets the objectives and the desired outcomes of the test execution. Given that the primary aim of testing is to identify as many defects as possible, these objectives should include:

  • List all features requiring testing, including functionality, GUI, performance standards, etc. The system components that will be tested (like hardware, software, middleware, etc.) are classified as ‘in scope’. Similarly, components that won’t be tested must be explicitly identified as ‘out of scope’.
  • Scope defines what functionalities and testing techniques are in scope. For example, if security testing is out of scope for the product, it must be mentioned explicitly. Also, what are all browsers and OS if you are performing web automation? This information needs to be covered clearly.
  • Expected results or benchmarks for every aspect of the software undergoing testing. This benchmark will be the standard against which all outcomes will be compared.

Define Test Criteria

This stage establishes clear standards for a successful test, i.e., specific conditions software must fulfill. Test criteria refer to the regulations or benchmarks governing testing project actions.

The two primary test criteria are:

  1. Suspension Criteria: Sets critical conditions under which testing will be paused. If these criteria are met during testing, the ongoing test cycle is suspended until the conditions are resolved. For instance, if the team reports a 70% failure rate in test cases, it would be prudent to pause testing until the development team addresses and fixes all the failed cases.
  2. Exit Criteria: Signifies the successful completion of a test phase. Exit criteria represent the intended results of the test and must be achieved before moving on to the subsequent development phase. An example of exit criteria is- 90% of all critical test cases must pass.

Resource Planning

A detailed inventory of all the resources necessary for completing the project is developed during this stage. This includes human resources, equipment, and infrastructure required to conduct accurate and comprehensive testing. A practical test plan distinctly outlines the responsibilities and roles of the testing team members, including the manager. Combining the Roles and Responsibilities section with the Schedule clarifies the tasks for everyone and their corresponding timelines.

Plan Test Environment

This stage refers to planning the test environment where the testing will commence. A testing environment refers to the hardware/software configuration the testing team utilizes to execute test cases. It encompasses the real-world business, user, and physical environments necessary for testing, such as servers and front-end running environments.

Typically, the test environment is designed to resemble the production environment closely. In addition to aligning the infrastructure, it is crucial to plan the operating systems, browsers, and devices used in the test environment to mirror the production environment. By replicating the production environment’s configuration, the testing team can identify any compatibility issues or functionality gaps that may arise on specific platforms or devices.

Schedule & Estimation

Once the testing strategy and scope are established, the next step is to develop the testing schedule. This involves breaking down the goals into specific testing tasks and estimating the effort needed. Determining the required resources for each task during the estimation process is also essential. Additionally, the schedule is created for different types of testing, such as regression testing or API testing, specifying when each testing type will be started and completed.

The test schedule allows us to monitor and manage the progress of the testing process effectively. Creating the schedule requires input from multiple perspectives, such as employee availability, number of working days, project deadlines, and daily resource availability. The risk associated with the project is also considered while creating the testing schedule.

Determine Test Deliverables

Test deliverables are artifacts provided to stakeholders during the software development lifecycle. There are different test deliverables at every phase of the software development lifecycle. Few are provided before the testing phase, some during the testing phase, and some after the testing is completed.

The following artifacts are created and provided before testing:

  • Test Strategy: Outlines the overall approach, objectives, and scope of testing activities.
  • Test Plan: Specifies the testing strategy, objectives, schedule, resources, and coverage.
  • Test Design: Describes the test scenarios, cases, and data used during testing.

The following artifacts are created and provided during testing:

  • Test Scripts: Detailed instructions or scripts that outline the steps to be executed during the testing process.
  • Test Data: The data required to execute the test cases and validate the software’s functionality.
  • Test Logs and Reports: Records and reports of test execution, including any defects or issues identified during testing.

The following artifacts are provided after testing cycles are completed:

  • Test Results: Provides a summary of the test execution results, including test cases’ pass/fail status.
  • Defect Reports: Documents the identified defects, including their severity, priority, and reproduction steps.
  • Test Closure Report: Comprehensive report summarizing the testing activities, outcomes, and recommendations for future testing efforts.

Test Plan Template

See a test plan template below to understand the structure:

Role of Codeless Automation in Test Plan

In the test plan, the testing approach may be manual, automated, or a combination of both. When automation is part of the equation, numerous variables come into play. These include the type of automation (web, mobile, API, load, etc.), the tools used for automation, the resources available, and the technology stack involved. These factors can potentially raise the project’s cost, amplify the effort required, and extend the timeline.

In the age of Agile and DevOps, with a focus on CI/CD and continuous testing, no-code tools are often favored over traditional automation tools. AI-driven, codeless automation tools like testRigor offer features that perfectly align with today’s market demands.

Fast Test Creation: Use any three easy approaches to create test cases:

  1. You need to provide only the test case title, and testRigor’s generative AI engine automatically creates test steps for you within seconds.
  2. There is no prerequisite to know any programming language. testRigor’s AI converts the English test scripts to actual code using advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP).
  3. Create the test case easily through our test recorder to record your actions. Since there is no dependency on XPath, tests are ultra-stable and convinient to maintain.
Text as Element Locators: testRigor introduces another innovative capability in element locator identification. Describe the text visible on the UI as element locator, and testRigor’s intelligent AI system can identify and engage with the element. See a sample of test steps below:
click "Cancel"
check that button "Add to Cart" is disabled

Everyone Can Participate: Use of plain English tests eliminates the need for a specialized automation team. This empowers everyone to effortlessly cover both straightforward and complex scenarios.

No Complexity: Traditional automation tools often face the challenge of escalating test case complexity alongside the expansion of automated test numbers. In contrast, testRigor adeptly mitigates this concern by its simplicity in creating, executing, and maintaining test cases.

Versatile Across Browsers and Platforms: testRigor maintains dependable and resilient object identification, ensuring consistency even when DOM properties differ across various platforms. This feature facilitates cross-platform and cross-browser execution of the same test cases.

Conclusion

The test plan is a strategic communication and resource planning tool critical to any software testing project. It provides clear guidelines, expectations, and a roadmap to all stakeholders, minimizing confusion and maximizing efficiency. The absence of a robust test plan can lead to inefficiencies, delayed results, and protracted release cycles.

Therefore, it’s vital to invest adequate time and resources in creating a comprehensive test plan to streamline the testing process, ensure the proper allocation of resources, and ultimately deliver a high-quality software product within the stipulated time frame.

Related Articles

Top 5 QA Tools to Look Out For in 2024

Earlier, test scripts were written from a developer’s perspective to check whether different components worked correctly ...

Best Practices for Creating an Issue Ticket

“Reminds me of the awesome bug report I saw once: Everything is broken. Steps to reproduce: do anything. Expected result: it ...