What is Quality Assurance Test Planning?
Communication is key in every stage of software development, but it becomes especially important during quality assurance. To make sure the conversation flows without any obstacles, you should know the basics of quality assurance test planning.
A quality assurance test plan may not sound exciting but it’s essential for creating good quality products. You do know when you have high-quality products in your hand – why not get to know more about how it reaches this level of quality? Knowing how a QA test plan looks will help you in communicating with your QA team, and later on with your customers. That’s right! In the end, QA is all about listening to your target group and providing them with the best possible solutions.
Here we’re going to have a closer look at what is QA test planning, what is a QA plan, how to write one, and what are some good practices in QA as a whole.
What is the QA (Quality Assurance) test planning and QA test plan?
QA test planning is a series of procedures that help you establish an effective QA testing process. A test plan is a detailed document that describes the test strategy, objectives, timeline, estimation, success criteria, and resources required to perform testing and bring the best results. The test plan determines the resources needed to validate the quality of the digital product that undergoes testing. Every feature of software that is being developed is a subject of testing.
The main goal of a QA test plan is to discover defects before the software is released to the users. Finding and fixing bugs errors shows that software meets the initial requirements and that it does the job it’s meant to do. That affects the user experience and customer satisfaction. Testing helps the development team be sure that the product or service lives up to the performance standards outlined at the beginning of the software development process. It’s also an important factor in presentations for stakeholders.
QA test plan example: what should be inside?
As stated in the paragraph above, every feature of software undergoes testing. That’s especially relevant in the agile development environment that has been favored by software houses for the past decade.
A few things have to be taken into consideration to create a well-balanced test plan document:
Here you should answer what exactly is going to be tested. You define criteria and scope that work as a roadmap for everyone involved in the QA process. Be specific: include also the features that will not be tested and what types of tests are going to take place. Thanks to this, your team will be always on the same page.
Describe your testing strategy by explaining how are you going to carry out the tests. Establish rules the test will follow and how many different configurations or environments are you going to test. If there are any special requirements, they should be mentioned here.
When do you know the test has been successful? By deciding what are the pass/fail criteria for each test. You need to be ready for a few different scenarios, including when a feature is considered to have passed the test and it’s ok to stop testing, when to pause testing, what kind of documentation follows a paused test, and how do you go about resuming a paused test.
Try to predict the potential obstacles and risks and include them in the test plan along with the assumptions, meaning what do you expect is going to happen.
Finally, list what are your test deliverables: what information you’re going to collect, how you’re going to report them, and how should the development team continue with the feature after testing.
Therefore, a test plan document should contain the following:
- a brief introduction to the project
- features that will be tested
- features that will not be tested
- pass or fail criteria
- testing types
- test environment
- roles and responsibilities
Documentation management is essential to a good QA flow so pay attention to it from the very beginning. It will save you a lot of frustration that usually comes with that one very important document that was left on the desk and suddenly disappeared.
The list above contains just the basics of what to include in a test plan. It’s a good foundation for your test plan templates, tailored to your QA process.
4 steps to build a QA test plan for your project
Every QA test plan should be structured as a step-by-step process that is easy to follow. How to make sure it serves its purpose? Think about the aspects mentioned below.
1. Analyze what you’re testing
No matter how many tests you conduct, they won’t serve their purpose if you don’t have a clear understanding of what the product or feature is. Talk to the entire team to better understand the scope and the objectives. If possible, ask the UX/UI designer to walk you through the user flow so you can put yourself in the shoes of the end-user. This will give you a better perspective on what to look for when you establish assumptions and objectives, which translates into a more accurate introduction.
2. Decide on strategies
The scope of the QA test is customer-centric. You need to think about what the users will want the most from the digital product. Then you can decide on resources, budget, and timeline.
Here’s where you should decide what types of testing you’re to use. The most common testing approaches include:
- API testing
- integration testing
- system testing
- load and stress testing
Understanding the goals and needs of the project is what makes a good testing process, so don’t rush this part.
3. Define the pass/fail criteria
As silly as it may sound, you and the rest of the team need to know when a test is done when it is passed, and when it is failed. That is why you need specific criteria for each of these scenarios. You can measure response time and set the perfect time, check how many requests can be handled per second, how much memory is needed to process the request, and so on.
4. Track the progress
QA test has certain stages that are needed to be followed. Based on what we’ve covered so far, we can divide them like this:
- establishing and analyzing requirements
- test planning
- test design
- test environment setup
- test performance
Once again, these are not set in stone. Make room for innovation – you never know where it could take you.
Why do you need a QA test plan?
Developing software is always easier when there’s a plan the team can follow. That is the primary purpose of QA test planning. Some other benefits include:
- understanding of how testing will be conducted
- setting clear goals and expectations the QA team wants to achieve
- having control over the testing process
- more accurate estimations
- better communication with the rest of the team
- guidance for new team members
A carefully designed QA test plan quickly becomes a staple in the software development process. It’s also the perfect way to create benchmarks for future projects.
In place of summary
You might be tempted to skip the testing phase of your project under the false assumption that it will save you time and money. Resist the temptation! The cost of fixing a bug after deployment is much, much higher than fixing it during the testing phase. What’s even worse is the bad word of mouth that could prevent your potential users from giving your product a chance. Save yourself the headache and put effort into QA test planning – your future self will thank you for that.