Software Testing Life Cycle
Let’s face it, any software application with a poor UI or dubious functionality quickly loses our trust. We quickly abandon it and find an alternative within a matter of minutes. This is why the software testers play a pivotal role in the implementation of an effective Software Testing Life Cycle. The STLC is a structured process within the software industry for the testing of software applications. It includes a series of phases where the Quality Assurance testers are involved with multiple goal-oriented activities. All of these activities are primarily designed for enhancing the quality of the software application in each phase of software development.
Understanding the Journey of the Software Testing Life Cycle
The STLC consists of multiple phases with clearly defined objectives. The sequence of methodical events helps to certify the software product under test and also to ascertain if it meets the defined objectives and quality standards of the software industry. The entire process employs both validation and verification of the product as its integral part. The output of the testing activity in every phase is reflected in the next phase of the STLC.
Knowing the Role of STLC in SDLC
STLC comes under the umbrella of the Software Development Life Cycle, where the latter oversees the entire process of software development from its concept to its final deliverable. The STLC is there to provide essential support to SDLC in terms of quality assurance of the product being developed. The STLC identifies the loopholes and deviations from the product’s requirements so that the development team can take timely action to get things back on track. The testing team is expected to start their test planning as soon as the requirements become available. The testing team needs to work in close collaboration with the development team. The in-depth test cases written with precision and clarity help in bridging the gap between the testing and development team, along with the rest of the business.
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Key Phases to the Software Testing Life Cycle
There are six key phases to STLC, which are described below:
1. Requirement Analysis
The Software Requirements Document (SRD) is the first artifact that the software team gets for building the application. The software testing activities formally start in this requirement analysis or requirement phase testing. This includes both the functional and non-functional requirements. The objective here is to identify the testable requirements while developing in-depth knowledge of the application through collaboration with the stakeholders. This foundational testing activity will enable you to write effective test cases while collaborating with the different stakeholders. Moreover, in this testing phase, the automation feasibility of the application with all the handy requirements must be evaluated as well. The output of the requirement analysis phase is the Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) and automation feasibility report, if applicable.
2. Test Planning
In this phase, the QA management devises the test plan strategy. It estimates the cost and efforts required for the full testing life cycle of the software product. This is also the time when the testing team should determine the testing types to be used, along with resource planning and testing schedule. The other key activities done here are the identification of the test tool(s), test limitations, and knowledge transfer sessions for covering up any deficit of the team. The test plan strategy document and effort estimation document is the key deliverable of this phase.
3. Test Cases Designing and Development
The test cases design implies how you would set up your test cases. It is critically important for ensuring the long-term maintenance and reusability of the test suite. The poor test design could also fail in identifying bugs in the application. The test case development phase formally initiates the detailed test case writing in your preferred tool. The testRigor offers a time-saving and effective tool, which is not only easy to set up but easy for maintaining test cases as well. The QA team here is also responsible for preparing the test data for the execution of test cases in the later stages of product development. At the end of this phase, you must have your tests suite ready with different levels of tests clubbed together, based on their criticality and test coverage.
4. Test Environment Setup
The test environment setup refers to the configuration of the hardware and software for enabling test cases execution. This extends to the setting up of the test server, operating system, network, and establishing a bug reporting tool. The QA team cannot proceed with the actual testing if the subject environment is not set up or if it is faulty. This is a completely independent activity within STLC, and it can start along with the test case development phase. Once everything is done in this phase, smoke testing can then be leveraged to ensure that the environment is stable.
5. Test Execution
This is the phase of executing your written test cases either manually or through automation. The process requires you to compare the actual results of the test cases with the expected results. The testing team may decide to pick the whole test suite, or a subset of it. This selection is based on the risk evaluation of the software application. Any defect in the application found should be escalated through the bug reporting tool. The test plans may be reconsidered for an update in this phase if required.
6. Test Closure
This phase in STLC is the last but not the least. In this activity, a comprehensive document is prepared with a summary of all the test cases that were executed. The document also holds detailed information on all the bugs found in the process. This document, once completed, should state that all the planned coverage for testing has been achieved.