Monday, 31 January 2011

Test plan and test strategy


In this post we will discuss:
  • Difference between Test Plan and Test Strategy (by both theoretically as per IEEE829 and practically, i.e. what actually happens in testing projects) in brief and simple manner.
  • Do we really need Test Plan documents?
Theory Says –
Test Plan - “A software project test plan is a document that describes the objectives, scope, approach, and focus of a software testing effort”
The purpose of the Master Test Plan, as stated by the IEEE Std 829 is to provide an overall test planning and test management document for multiple levels of test (either within one project or across multiple projects).
You can see the IEEE standard test plan is here.
Test Strategy – Test Strategy or Test Approach is a set of guide lines that describes test design. Test strategy says - How testing is going to be performed? What will be the test architecture?
Test Strategy can be at two levels – Company/Organization Level and Project Level. For e,g, If company is product based, then there can be a general test strategy for testing their software products. Same strategy can be implemented (with/without  some modifications) at project level whenever a new project comes.
Might be these are OK for beginners, but actually this is not enough.
Well, James Bach introduces following definitions in his blog (in green)–
  • Test Plan: the set of ideas that guide a test project
  • Test Strategy: the set of ideas that guide test design
  • Test Logistics: the set of ideas that guide the application of resources to fulfil a test strategy
I find these ideas to be a useful jumping off point. Here are some implications:
  • The test plan is the sum of test strategy and test logistics.
  • The test plan document does not necessarily contain a test plan. This is because many test plan documents are created by people who are following templates without understanding them, or writing things to please their bosses, without knowing how to fulfil their promises, or simply because it once was a genuine test plan but now is obsolete.
  • Conversely, a genuine test plan is not necessarily documented. This is because new ideas may occur to you each day that change how you test.In my career, I have mostly operated without written test plans.
Conclusion:
Test Strategy and Test Plan Relation
Is Test Plan document is required for testing?
Test Plan covers – What needs to be tested, How testing is going to be performed? Resources needed for testing, Timelines and Risk associated.
For efficient and effective test planning we don’t really need IEEE-829 template for test plan. Planning can be done without test plan document also. Identify your test Approach (strategy) and go with your testing. Many test plans are being created just for the sake of processes.
Note – We are not against Test Plan documents. Use test plan documents if they really contains some useful information.

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