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What is a Test Plan?

Need a test plan for an information management project and want practical suggestions to ensure rapid project delivery?

A plan is a communications tool, which clearly sets testing expectations for all team members.

Think of it as a mini-project plan whichTest Plan documents test objectives, roles and responsibilities, test deliverables, test tasks, defect reporting requirements, entrance criteria, that should be met before formal testing commences; and the exit criteria that must be met before testing can be considered complete.

It helps new team members quickly see who is involved with the testing and helps minimize project delays due to miscommunication.
Why is it important?

Suppose you have just had a new house built. Everything looks good to you and you move in. Come winter, your water freezes, your electrical service short-circuits when you turn on the Christmas tree lights and try to cook the turkey at the same time, and snow blows thru cracks in the window frames.

This probably will never occur because we have building codes, regulations and inspections to ensure that construction meets standard.

What about information management standards?

The information management framework established project deliverable standards and best practices. The quality assurance plan ensures that design and development meets standards.

However, how do we know everything works? We need to validate that the solution matches specification and meets requirements. This is where a good test plan helps.

What is included in a test plan?

A test plan should include the following:
  • Test objectives, should summarize project objectives, test objectives, scope and roles and responsibilities;
  • Test strategy, should refer to the requirements acceptance criteria, that were developed as part of the requirements definition phase, and the test environments that will be used;
  • Test plan, should list the scope of each test, including entrance criteria, how test cases will be prepared, what test data will be used, what test scripts are required, who will execute test scripts,  how defects will be managed, how test results will be managed, and test exit criteria;
  • Test data strategy, should list the overall approach for creating test data. Try not to use large volumes of data for unit, system, integration, regression and quality assurance testing. 
You can adequately complete these tests with a sub-set of data. Failure to do this will add significantly to the test period  and will not add additional benefit.

The extra time it takes to create a complete set of test data early in the project will be paid back many times by reducing the time to back-up/restore data during testing;
  • Test deliverables should specify what will be produced;
  • Resource plan should list all project roles and responsibilities, level of effort, and other test resource requirements;
  • Training considerations, should list any training that might be required so the test team can complete testing; and
  • Test schedule, should identify a test schedule that clearly defines when all testing is expected to occur—This schedule may be included in the project schedule.

What types of testing are included in a test plan?
  • Unit testing should focus on testing individual modules to ensure that they perform to specification, handle all exceptions as expected, and produce the appropriate alerts to satisfy error handling;
  • Integration testing should focus on testing a set of components  to ensure that it performs to specification;
  • QA testing should  focus on testing a set of components to ensure that they meets requirements; and
  • User acceptance testing (UAT) should focus on testing a set of requirements to ensure that they meet user expectations.
What information management technical testing is required? 
  • System and volume tests to confirm that the system is operating correctly and can handle the required data volumes;
  • Reconciliation tests to manually confirm the validity of data;
  • Regression testing to ensure that the new software does not cause problems with existing software;
  • Performance testing to ensure that data can be loaded in the available “load window”;
  • Security testing;
  • Load manager testing;
  • Warehouse manager testing; and
  • Infrastructure and operations component testing.

A test plan is a communications tool, which clearly sets testing expectations for all team members. It is important to complete the plan early in the project and manage it carefully to ensure on time, within budget project delivery.

It is also important to recognize that the technical team should perform much of the technical testing.

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