Suppose you are part of a software development team working on a complex e-commerce application. The application involves multiple modules, such as product catalog, shopping cart, payment processing, and order management. The project has a strict deadline and a significant number of requirements to fulfill. Now how do you go about testing it? If there is a team of testers, then how should you divide the task amongst this team? A test strategy helps with these exact concerns.
What is a test strategy?
In simple words, a test strategy is a plan of action for testing a project. Though ISO Standard 29119-1:2022 mentions it to be a part of a test plan, many organizations adopt different ways to define test strategies. Some prefer to keep it as a part of the test plan, while some might just mention it in the test plan while elaborating on it in a separate document. While a test plan focuses on elaborating the test objectives, a schedule, and ways to achieve them, the test strategy is more focused on how to test go about the actual testing activity.
Types of test strategies
Thinking about how one should test the project thoroughly can be daunting. To make this process easier, having a strategy in place can be a huge relief not just for the testing team, but for all stakeholders involved. If you end up picking a strategy that isn’t the right fit for your project, then you may end up missing out on some critical issues or spending too much time and effort running the wrong test cases. Let’s take a look at some of the test strategies that are popularly employed.
- Analytical test strategy: This strategy involves analyzing various artifacts, such as client requirements, designs, or user stories in the case of Agile, to identify potential defects and inconsistencies. It is quite often seen when doing user acceptance testing, system or component testing.
- Model-based test strategy: This strategy involves creating models that represent the expected behavior or requirements of the application. Test cases are derived from these models, which can include state diagrams, decision tables, finite state machines, or use case models.
- Methodical test strategy: Over here, the focus remains on a standard test basis. For example, security testing or certain functional tests like testing payments require following a fixed set of steps.
- Compliance-based testing strategy: Compliance testing ensures that the software adheres to industry standards, regulations, or specific guidelines. This strategy involves verifying if the software meets legal, regulatory, security, or accessibility requirements as specified by relevant authorities or industry best practices. One is more likely to encounter this in sectors where there are strict compliance requirements.
- Regression-averse test strategy: Here the focus remains on avoiding any regression issues. A good use of this would be testing a system where some infrastructure-level changes are made that are not expected to affect anything else.
- Consultative test strategy: The testing approach is decided after consulting other stakeholders. This can come in handy if the application under test involves complexities and the way to test is not straightforward or beyond one’s expertise.
- Reactive test strategy: Over here, what to test is decided once the application is made available for testing. This strategy relies on the tester’s skills and experience and is quite often seen in exploratory testing.
A word of caution, don’t get caught up in definitions. Instead, try to find a strategy or a combination of them that best suits your project.
Common components of a test strategy
When it comes to creating a test strategy, you might find yourself having to mention some or even all of these details about the project.
- The types of tests and the levels of testing: Here levels refer to stages of testing to achieve a certain test objective or mitigate risk at a certain level sequentially. This is what the test pyramid prescribes, eliminating risks at the unit level through unit testing, an intermediary level like at a component or at important junctures through integration testing, and finally at the top or UI level of the application through end-to-end testing. When it comes to types of tests, you need to figure out whether your project needs functional testing, performance testing, security testing, usability testing, and so on.
- Retesting and regression testing: The test strategy also considers cases where retesting might be needed and future scenarios where regression testing should take care of the stability of the project.
- Test design techniques: Approaches to designing test cases are also outlined in this document.
- Test completion criteria: This refers to the criteria for deciding whether the testing activity can be deemed successful.
- Test data: This defines what test data will be generated, sourced, managed, and protected during testing.
- Test environment: Defining the required test environments, including hardware, software, and network configurations, necessary for executing the tests effectively is done through test strategy.
- Testing tools: Mentioning what tools and frameworks are going to be used through the testing process helps rid of ambiguity and confusion during the actual testing. For example, during unit testing, you might pick a tool compatible with your development framework. Whereas for end-to-end testing, you have many modern alternatives like testRigor.
- Expectation from test deliverables: Mentioning the documentation and artifacts to be produced, such as test plans, test cases, test scripts, test reports, and defect reports, helps in quantitatively measuring the testing efforts.
Besides these components, some other components that can be included are risk factors, segregation of roles and responsibilities, testing metrics, build strategy and timelines. If the test strategy is a stand-alone document, then including clear-cut test scope and objectives is beneficial.
Template of a test strategy
We saw some of the common components of a test strategy. Though they tend to vary from organization to organization, we get a rough idea of what to expect from the test strategy document. Below is an example of a test strategy for an e-commerce website project. You can find test strategy documents that rate testing based on risk profiles and even requirements. Based on the testing processes followed by your organization, you can improvise the template to give other details as well.
The purpose of this document is to outline the test strategy for the XYZ project.
Test Levels and Types
This matrix demonstrates who has primary (P) and secondary (S) responsibility in carrying out these different testing approaches.
Test Completion Criteria
For the testing to be deemed as completed, the following will be required.
Use the following tools throughout the testing process.
How to create an effective test strategy document?
A test strategy document is referred to by a lot of stakeholders and hence it is imperative to be concise when writing this document. Here are some tips that might help you with this.
- Understand the scope of work: As simple as this seems, you might be astonished as to how often people do not consider this pre-requisite. Before working on a test strategy document, make sure to understand the project under test, its limitations, objectives that stakeholders might consider for the application, and any relevant industry standards or regulations.
- Decide on the test types and levels: This can vary from project to project. Depending on what is getting tested and why, you may need to add in other types of testing like load testing, performance testing, etc.
- Do not hesitate to put in the hours to create this document: One might wonder “Why should I waste so much time in creating this document?”. Well, if you want your testing endeavors to go smoothly, especially if you have a big project to test and a team to test it, a structured and thought-out approach will take you across the finish line.
- Pick clarity over aesthetics: When it comes to the documentation, be sure to not lose focus from the main objective, that is, to highlight a test strategy in the most clear way possible. The kind of template you choose or the header color is not the most important thing here.
- Pick and choose what works for you: When it comes to testing, there is no one size fits all approach. Yes, you can refer to templates and processes followed by other organizations, but at the end of the day, it comes down to what is your need out of this strategy. Feel free to customize the test strategy document to add or omit details as per your requirements.
- Ensure that an experienced member leads the process: The process of writing a test strategy document is subjected to not just the knowledge of different strategies and industry standards, but also experience with the project at hand and customer reception of the same for so long. Generally, the experienced QA resources are likely to have this information and should thus be involved in coming up with test strategies.
Using AI-based end-to-end testing tools for executing test strategies
Just developing a robust test strategy isn’t a guarantee that you will achieve your testing goals. Coupling your strategy with a high-performing tool, such as testRigor, however, will greatly enhance your chance of success. testRigorharnessesthe power of AI (including generative AI) to streamline key challenges in automation testing, significantly easing your workload. Let’s delve into how it accomplishes this.
Any tester well-versed in automation testing will attest to the challenge of maintaining up-to-date test cases. Fortunately, with testRigor, this burden is significantly reduced. testRigor cuts down test maintenance time by a staggering 99.5%, allowing testers to focus on more strategic tasks, such as test case creation, while providing an unprecedented level of stability. It achieves this by eliminating the need for element locators such as XPaths or CSS locators. Instead, you simply describe how the element appears on the screen, and testRigor’s engine takes care of the rest. For instance, to click on the login button next to the sign-up button, you simply instruct it to ‘click on “login” to the left of “sign-up”‘.
This example segues neatly into another significant use of AI: enabling the writing of test scripts in plain English. As this tool supports testing across multiple platforms—web, mobile, and desktop—its documentation includes platform-specific commands. Extending beyond test case creation, testRigor employsgenerative AIto create test cases from scratch. With testRigor, you can not only write test cases in plain English, but also easily automate scenarios that involve manipulating table data, interacting with email and SMS content, conducting accessibility testing, and essentially any scenario you might need to examine during functional, system, user acceptance, or end-to-end testing.
In conclusion, the utility of AI-based tools such as testRigor in executing effective test strategies cannot be overstated. They offer not only ease of use but also a significant reduction in test case maintenance, leaving you free to focus on more complex tasks. Adopting such an advanced tool promises to revolutionize your testing process, resulting in greatly increased reliability and efficiency for the entire organization.
The bottom line
Test strategy is more than a mere document. It outlines how to go about the actual testing process for the project. Spending time in coming up with an effective test strategy can help you in ensuring that testing efforts do not go in vain and there doesn’t arise a need to cut corners to meet the deadline when it comes to testing as the release date approaches. Along with a good strategy, be sure to also choose testing tools that aid your endeavors at improving the overall quality of testing.