Test plans pt. 3: The process of using test plans

By | June 23, 2015

This is the third in a series of articles on the topic of test plans and test case management. You will find the second article of the series, Benefits of using test plans, on Lean Testing’s blog.

While many crowdsourcing websites now recommend exploratory testing as a way of understanding how a typical user would use the product, we believe that test plans should play an important part in the testing process as well. Here is what we recommend for your testing process (Of course this is in a perfect world. We recommend that you allot as much time to testing as possible, but if your timetable is short, you should adapt the testing process to make the most of the time you have).

Test plans

Source: http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/

First phase: Creating a test plan

In order to create a great test plan, it is important to assign the task to someone who’s been involved in the project. The person creating it can be anyone (tester, developer, architect, etc…), as long as his/her knowledge of the project is optimal. The more he/she knows about the project, the more thorough the test plan will be.

Second phase: full test plan

Test plans are crucial for the first cycle of testing, as they cover all functionalities of the software. This is a necessary first step, since it will act as the base for all future testing and development. From these initial tests, testers and developers can go back and understand what went wrong, where it went wrong, what needs to be fixed right away and where testers should focus their efforts moving forward.

50/50 testing

If you have more than one tester at your disposal, the next step should be 50/50 testing. By this, we mean that you should assign 50% of your testers to exploratory testing, and 50% to test plan-based testing. Exploratory testing will help you find random “out of the box” bugs that your experts probably did not think about when creating the test plan. As for continuing the test plan testing, it will help you keep a log of where you stand, your progress, and what still needs to be done.

Switch roles

At some point in the testing process, it is important to switch roles between exploratory testers and test plan testers, to ensure that you keep testers on their toes and to make sure they don’t get too comfortable with the project. Exploratory testers are only useful for so long before they start to develop tunnel vision and lose their outside the box creative thinking. This will also prevent the QA team from getting bored of your project: A happy tester is a good tester!

Shortened test plan

At the end of your testing process, you should revert back to a small/shortened test plan to verify that all important aspects of the product are accounted for. Test plans are a perfect solution for last minute checks, as they ensure that everything has been tested one last time, and you are completely aware of the state of the product that you are launching.

Last sanity check

The very last check just before launch. The shortened test plan can be used for this last check, but testers should only log major or critical bugs. The point of this is to make sure that the product’s functionality is as great as it can be. Other, less severe bugs can be fixed through later updates.

Thanks to your good QA practices, your launch will be successful and you will have built a product you can be proud of!

For more information on creating test plans, please stay tuned for the next article in this series: How to Write a Test Plan.

Category: Quality assurance testing
Eric Bissonnette

About Eric Bissonnette

Éric has been a professional software tester for 14 years, working in video games, web and mobile software. He is passionate about software quality and he always aims at improving QA processes. An avid hockey fan, you can catch up with him at most Montreal Canadiens games. Even if he is a “Habs” fan, he insists in mentioning that Jaromir Jagr remains his favorite player! Eric’s catch phrase: “Always remain curious, you can never stop learning.”