Jānis Blaus
Jānis Blaus
08 November, 2018

How to Craft a Software Testing Strategy

Attempting to deploy an untested software is courting catastrophic disaster for your company. But if your software team claims that it's undergone sufficient testing and yet you're facing a barrage of complaints, you may have neglected an important step in software testing. Chances are, there was no software testing strategy defined, written and executed.

What Is A Test Strategy

A test strategy outlines in details how the testing of software is to be conducted. Instead of scratching the surface, a test strategy dives into details and address issues like who shall be responsible for testing, what are the tools to be used, and how the application shall be tested. Creating a test strategy is usually the combined efforts of the project manager, business analysts and other stakeholders in the project. The approach is put into written form in a test strategy document. It is one of the most important documents during a software development lifecycle.

Why Crafting A Testing Strategy Is Important

At Netcore, crafting a software testing strategy is one of the first items on our list before the first line of code was written. We’ve noticed many software deployments gone awry just because a proper testing strategy was not in place. A detailed testing strategy helps to guide the tester involved in a systematic manner. It covers every aspect that has been deliberated and agreed by the team and minimizes problems that will ensue during post-deployment. By executing software testing according to the outlined strategy, valuable test data are acquired and can be utilized for future improvisation. All the stakeholders are assured of the software performance within the test environment. Ultimately, having a testing strategy prevents software to be released just for the sake of meeting the deadline.

How To Craft A Software Testing Strategy

If you’ve never written a software testing document, it may seem slightly overwhelming. Getting a template is helpful to put you on the right track. With that said, testing strategies may differ between companies, and you’ll have to make adjustments that reflect your software and business requirements. Generally, here are the key elements that you’ll need for a testing strategy.

1. Scope and Overview

The first section contains a brief overview of the entire test procedure and outlining the goals expected by the end of the process. It also involves spelling out the various key persons involved in reviewing, approving and utilizing the test strategy document.

2. Test Approach

The test approach requires a more detailed write up that relates to the software itself. Here are some elements that are usually included:

  • Test Types - The project manager will need to establish the type of test that needs be carried out by the tester. Depending on the software requirements and complexity, this could involve regression, security, usability, performance, and load testing.
  • Roles & Responsibilities - The list of testing activities are usually too huge to be handled by a single tester. It takes a team to ensure successful testing and the roles and responsibilities of each key tester and developer need to be specified.
  • Testing Environments - Before the software can be tested, a controlled environment is required to be set up to ensure accurate testing results. This section specifies the test environments needed and the procedure in setting them up. It usually involves system requirements such as the processors, memory spaces, and hard disk spaces. The steps to create test data that are used in testing is also specified in this section.
  • Test Levels - A software may undergo various levels of testing before they are released as a final product. The document needs to list out all the testings required, such as unit testing, integration test, and user acceptance test.

3. Testing Tools

Software testing tools are usually used to coordinate and automate the testing process. Tools like qLink, Practitest and Zephyr are common amongst software testers. Regardless of which tools that will be used during the test process, it is important to state them down in the document. Prior to testing, the testers would need to establish the entry and exit criteria, which means the fulfilling conditions where the software testing begins and ends. Besides that, every single iteration in the test needs to be well documented. Key test metrics need to be established to track the test progress accurately.

4. Test Deliverables

You should never take the words of your tester for granted when it comes to software testing. Not because he or she is unreliable, but having every single instruction, parameters and results recorded is a practice that safeguards the interests of all parties. When you’re crafting the software testing document, clearly list out the deliverables that will be produced as the testing commences. Here are some of the common documents that are required during a test cycle.

  • Test Plan - A high-level document that entails the overall project plan which may also touch on the test strategy.
  • Test Scripts - These are sets of instructions of how the software is tested, the parameters involved and the expected outcome during testing.
  • Test Data - A set of pre-created data that are used during the testing.
  • Defect Report - An important document that highlights every bugs or issue encountered during the testing. It should contain detailed information that helps developers to reproduce the bugs for remedial action.
  • Test Status Report - This provides an insight into the testing activities, bugs encountered and the overall progress of the testing.
  • Release note - At Netcore, we provide release notes for our clients so that they are kept in the loop on the versions and bug fixes that have been done.

You may also include other relevant documents which may add value to the testing process.

5. Defect Management

Any testing efforts are futile if you do not have a proper defect management procedure. It is common that bugs and other technical issues are encountered during rigorous rounds of testing. Testers need to document the problems encountered in detail to facilitate remedial action by the developers. Information like the nature of the defects, the environment and test data that results in them and the steps to replicate the errors help in solving the issues. This is where defect management tools like Bugzilla, Mantis, and Trac may be useful and should be listed in the testing strategy document.

6. Risk Analysis

When complicated software is being developed, there are probabilities that things could go wrong in various aspects. Multiple units or modules that interact with each other may be susceptible to latent issues undetected by developers. A multi-framework environment could compound this problem. Besides mitigating technical risks, the testing document should also provide for possibilities that the software may not meet the business requirements and customers expectations. Having the risks spelled out, and suggestions of solutions help in the overall testing process.

7. Review and Approval

Software testing is a process that involves various personnel in the software team and other stakeholders. The final draft of the software testing strategy document should be signed off by those who are directly involved in the process once every detail are agreed.

Final Thoughts

The software testing strategy document is equally important with the application being developed. We’ve encountered many cases where this document was omitted during the process, and the result was never pretty. You’ll need an experienced project manager to craft a software testing strategy that covers every critical aspect of the testing process. Alternatively, you can engage our team at Netcore to help you out with the document.

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