How to Create a Test Plan

We’ll soon be launching Qucate, a test management platform for functional software solutions. In this blog, we’ve put together some useful tips to help you understand how to create a test plan, including information on test plan templates and test plan examples. 

In our previous blog, we talked about the differences between a test plan and a test strategy, now, it’s time to create your test plan.

Software testing is an integral part of the development process and helps you make sure that a piece of software or new functionality is working as expected, before releasing changes to your customer or internal teams. Your test plan outlines all the areas that need testing to ensure a smooth delivery (and a happy client!).

We’ve put together this short animation to help you understand the terminology and how a test plan fits together in Qucate.

What is a test plan?

A test plan is a set of predefined steps and checks designed to identify bugs and defects to make sure your software works as intended. It outlines everything you need to test a piece of software or new functionality. Think of it as a step-by-step guide.

Creating a test plan can sometimes be overlooked due to time constraints (or other reasons). However, it’s important to spend time evaluating your testing approach to make sure you find and fix as many bugs as possible.

The earlier you start planning testing and the more people involved in the process, the better. Don’t wait until you’ve finished development before creating your test plan!

You need to make sure you have enough resources, in terms of time, people, and technology, and you may need to coordinate people from different teams and departments to make sure your testing is collaborative and effective.

Your test plan will document the test strategy and will outline:

  1. The objective of the testing effort
  2. The testing approach
  3. The features or functionality to be tested
  4. Scheduling and resources

Although a test strategy and test plan seem similar, a test strategy sets the general standard for testing activities. Whereas a test plan defines the specific details of the process. You can read more about the differences between a test strategy and test plan in this blog post.

What's included in a test plan?

Now that you know what a test plan is, we can look at how you create a test plan.

Don’t forget, your test plan is designed to find bugs and improve the quality of your software.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 829 Standard Policy identifies 16 steps to follow when creating a test plan.  

Qucate is designed for developers, QA managers, and software testers, and we expect you’re familiar with aspects of the software development and testing process. Therefore, we’ve simplified the process by grouping certain items as illustrated below.

How to create a test plan - The IEEE 829 Standard for how to create a test plan, and how these transfer to Qucate when creating test plan templates.

Qucate allows you to create reusable test plan templates which include a predefined set of test runs. This may include a developer or unit test run, a peer test run, a regression test run, and a release test run, and can be designed to suit your testing process.

How to create a test plan - Qucate dashboard showing how you can create test plan templates including pre-defined test runs.

Qucate also allows you to create reusable test run templates for specific products or areas of functionality.

How to create a test plan - Test run template example in Qucate when you learn how to create a test plan.

Test templates reduce setup and planning time and make sure you take a consistent approach to testing.

How to create a test plan

Now you understand how to create a test plan, it’s time to start the process!

It’s important for you to have a step-by-step process to make sure you don’t miss anything.

1. Understand the product or feature

Make sure you have a deep understanding of the product or feature before you start testing.

At Koderly, this means reading the requirements document or specification, reviewing the case notes, and speaking to the team. You should have in-depth knowledge of the product before you continue with the next step.

2. Design the test strategy

You need to agree on the scope of your test plan, understand exactly what needs testing and how you will know if a test has passed or failed. Think about the customer’s expectations, the budget and timeline, and the specification.

For complex software solutions, it’s common to complete multiple rounds of testing and bug fixes, so make sure you build this into your plan!

Think about the test runs you need to include in your test plan and use test run templates where appropriate. Depending on the nature of the changes, your testing approach may include:

Unit testing

A unit is the smallest testable component of an application, such as a field or button. Unit testing validates that each software component works or behaves as expected.

Peer testing

Peer testing is carried out by a colleague (or peer). This colleague will usually be a developer or a dedicated tester. If the changes aren’t working as expected, the developer will need to fix any issues and restart the testing process.

Functional testing

Functional testing establishes whether software performs as a user would reasonably expect.

API testing

The API links all of the systems needed for your software to function correctly. It is usually tested after software development to ensure that everything is working as intended. API testing is similar to Unit testing, in that it is tested at code level.

Integration testing

Integration testing makes sure that software components or functions interact as expected. This is particularly important when working with third-party APIs and may relate to capturing data or processing a payment.

Performance testing

Performance testing is used to evaluate how the system performs under expected workloads and is designed to make sure your system can cope during busy periods.

Stress testing

Stress testing pushes your software to its limits and establishes the hypothetical breaking point.

Regression testing

Regression testing involves running software tests to ensure previously developed core functionality still works as expected after recent changes. If the program doesn’t run correctly, it will have regressed and will need fixing.

3. Setup the test environment

You need to understand (and document) the hardware, software, and operating system you need to test your software, and set this up in advance to save time.

You may also need to set up and configure the software and obtain an up-to-date copy of the database for testing.

4. Execute your test plan and track progress

You’re now ready to test your software and track your progress, by following the Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC). 

How to create a test plan - Image showing the different stages of the software testing lifecycle.

And there you have it, everything you need to know before you create a test plan.

If you’re looking for a test management platform, Qucate will allow you to create fully audited test plans for compliance, visibility, and transparency, whilst improving quality and testing coverage. Head to our Qucate page for more information, or feel free to contact us.

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