Master the Skill of Making a Test Strategy Document
A strategic plan describing your testing approach, the goals you hope to reach, and the methods you plan to utilize to achieve these goals.
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This paperwork removes any uncertainty or unclear requirement declarations with a clear plan to reach the testing goals. The Test Strategy document is invaluable for the Quality Assurance team.
What You Will Learn:
- Creating a Test Strategy Document
- Test Strategy
- What Does a Test Strategy Entail?
- Comparing Test Strategy and Test Plan
- Process to Develop an Effective Test Strategy Document
- Common Sections of a Test Strategy Document
- Effective Tips to Write a Test Strategy Document
- Closing Thoughts
Creating a Test Strategy Document
The Test Strategy
Cultivating an efficient Test Strategy is a critical competency that every tester should master in their career. It sparks your innovative thinking, allowing you to detect many unnoticed requisites. Reflective, organized test planning helps the team define the testing scope and coverage.
Test Managers gain clarity about the project at any given moment. By establishing a vigorous test strategy, the probability of neglecting any testing task is substantially reduced.
Performing tests without a well-thought-out plan rarely delivers the expected results. I am aware of teams that construct strategy documents but rarely utilize them during test execution. The Test Strategy scheme should be communicated amongst the entire team to ensure consistency in approach and shared responsibility.
With demanding deadlines, testing tasks cannot simply be eliminated due to time pressures. They must be evaluated via a formal process before being dismissed.
What Does a Test Strategy Entail?
A Test Strategy defines “how will you test the application?” It illustrates the exact process or strategy you will implement during the application testing phase.
I’ve seen lots of organizations that rigidly abide by the Test Strategy framework. Nonetheless, even without an official template, you can prepare a straightforward yet effective Test Strategy document.
Comparing Test Strategy and Test Plan
Over time, I have noticed considerable confusion about these two types of documents. We will start with their basic definitions. Generally, the order of creation does not matter. The strategy is a key component of the test planning document. According to the IEEE Standard 829-2008, the Strategy plan is a subcomponent of the test plan.
Each company has its own standards and processes for managing these documents. Some of them include strategy details within the test plan itself (here is a great example). Others involve a strategy section in the test plan while assigning detailed strategy content to different documents.
The test plan highlights the project scope and the focus of the tests. It mostly concerns test coverage, features that will be tested, features that won’t be tested, estimation, scheduling, and resource management.
On the other hand, the test strategy offers guidance for the test approach geared towards achieving outlined test goals. It includes test purposes, approaches, test environments, automation plans and tools, risk analysis, and a contingency plan.
To summarize, the Test Plan depicts what you hope to achieve, while the Test Strategy serves as the action plan to realize that vision!
I hope these explanations clear up any confusion. James Bach explores the topic further here.
Process to Develop an Effective Test Strategy Document
Instead of blindly following templates, understand what best fits your project. Every client has unique needs, and you should adhere to practices that fulfill your requirements. Refrain from unthinkingly replicating a different organization or standard. Always confirm that the approach benefits you and your processes.
Below, you will find a sample strategy template that outlines the parts to be covered in this plan, accompanied by a few examples to illustrate sensible content for each part.
Test Strategy within the Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC):
Common Sections of a Test Strategy Document
Step #1: Determining Scope and Providing an Overview
Offer a summary of the project and specify the targeted audience for this document. Include specifics like who will review and approve the document. Outline the testing tasks and the phases to be undertaken, along with schedule alignment with the overall project schedule defined in the test plan.
Step #2: Establishing a Test Approach
Detail the testing procedure, the testing stages, and each team member’s roles and responsibilities.
For each type of test outlined in the Test Plan (For Instance, Unit, Integration, System, Regression, Installation/Uninstallation, Usability, Load, Performance, and Security testing), specify the reasons for conducting them, along with details such as when to start, test ownership, responsibilities, testing approach, and automation strategy and tools, if applicable.
Test execution involves several tasks, such as logging new issues, defect triaging, defect assignments, re-testing, regression testing, and finally test sign-off. You must outline the exact steps to be followed for each activity. You can use the same process successfully used in previous test cycles.
A visual flowchart that displays all these activities, including the number of testers and their assigned roles, can greatly aid in quickly understanding the team’s roles and responsibilities.
For instance, in the defect management cycle, define the process for logging new defects and where to log them, the required defect status, defect triaging responsibility, and defect assignment post-triaging, among other pertinent details.
Also, outline the change management process, including submitting change requests, templates to be used, and the handling procedures for such requests.
Step #3: Setting Up a Test Environment
Test environment setup should encompass information about the number of settings and the necessary setup for each. For instance, one environment for the functional test team and another for the UAT team.
Specify the number of users supported in each environment, different user access roles, and software and hardware requirements, such as operating systems, memory, free disk space, and number of systems, amongst others.
Test data requirements are equally critical. Offer explicit instructions on how to create test data, either by generating data or using production data with masked fields for privacy reasons.
Outline the strategy for test data backup and restoration. Code problems may create issues in the test environment’s database. I remember confronting serious problems in one project due to a lack of a clearly defined database backup strategy, which resulted in a complete data loss due to code problems.
The backup and restoration process should detail who will perform backups, when backups will occur, what to include in the backup, when and by whom the database will be restored, and the steps to follow for data masking during database restoration.
Step #4: Selecting Testing Tools
Indicate the test management and automation tools required for test execution. For performance, load, and security testing, outline the testing approach and the necessary tools. State whether the tools are open source or commercial, and plan accordingly considering the number of supported users.
Step #5: Implementing Release Control
As mentioned in our UAT article, unanticipated release cycles can lead to different software versions being present in the test and UAT environments. A release management plan, complete with a version history, ensures all modifications are tested within that release.
For instance, develop a build management process that addresses questions such as where new builds should be made available, their deployment destinations, when to acquire a new build, where to find the production build, who will authorize or refuse the production release, etc.
Step #6: Conducting a Risk Analysis
Enumerate all potential risks along with a solid plan to mitigate them and a backup plan in case any of these risks manifest.
Step #7: Seeking Reviews and Approvals
Once all activities are detailed in the Test Strategy plan, they should be reviewed and approved by all relevant parties involved; project management, the business team, the development team, and the system administration (or environment management) team.
A summary of the review changes should be documented at the start of the document, including the name of the approver, the date, and any remarks. Moreover, as a living document, it should be continuously reviewed and updated to incorporate enhancements in the testing process.
Effective Tips to Write a Test Strategy Document
- Include the project background in the test strategy document. Answer why stakeholders want this project in the document’s initial paragraph. This will aid in comprehending and prioritizing factors more efficiently.
- List all essential features you plan to test. If certain features won’t be part of this release, list them under “Features not to be tested.”
- Communicate the test approach for your project. Clearly state what types of testing will be conducted like Functional testing, UI testing, Integration testing, Load/Stress testing, Security testing, etc.
- Answer questions like how you will carry out functional testing, whether it’ll be manual or automated, and whether you will execute all the test cases from your test management tool.
- Indicate the bug tracking tool you will use and describe the process to be followed when a new bug is detected.
- Define your test entry and exit criteria.
- Set how you will monitor the progress of your testing. Identify the metrics that will be utilized to keep track of test completion.
- Clearly set the roles and responsibilities of each team member.
- List the documents that will be created during and after the testing phase.
- Identify the risks associated with test completion.
A Test Strategy isn’t just a document. It is the climax of all QA activities in the software testing life cycle. Reference this document regularly during the test execution process and adhere to the plan until the software is released.
As the project nears its release date, it can be tempting to reduce testing activities by neglecting aspects defined in the test strategy document. However, it is always wise to discuss with your team whether omitting any specific activity will allow for a release without the potential risks of major post-release issues.
Most agile teams limit the creation of strategy documents, as their focus is mainly on test execution rather than paperwork.
Nonetheless, having a simple test strategy plan is always beneficial for clearly outlining and handling the project’s associated risks. Agile teams can document high-level activities to ensure that test execution is completed on a timely basis and without complications.
I am sure that by creating a robust Test Strategy plan and committing to its implementation, you will greatly improve the testing process and the quality of the software. I hope this article inspires you to prepare a Test Strategy plan for your project!
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