Any given test plan and its contents vary widely depending on to who is doing the testing and what template is used. Test plans can be found anywhere on the web. They can be generic in nature or specific to a particular industry and have specific sections that are critical for regulatory or risk reasons. A test plan can also be seen as a strategy, while in some cases strategy is never considered. Sometimes test cases are included in a test plan.

We consider a test plan to be a document that outlines a path for the testing but excludes the test cases (which we like to keep in a database). The test plan often includes the following (not a comprehensive list):

  1. Introduction
  2. Test Approach
  3. Assumptions and Dependencies
  4. Risks and the Risk Plan
  5. Schedule and Resources
  6. Glossary

The Incredible Shrinking Test Plan

We’ve seen where one client invested a lot of time creating a test plan template for use within their organization. The template with various sections indicated what the contents of that section should include, however, if the section was irrelevant,  a statement as to why it was inapplicable was to be noted. Under no condition was any section to be deleted. Unfortunately, one group misunderstood the importance of keeping ALL data and deleted any section they felt was unnecessary. They innacurately used the previous plan version as the template for the next one and so on. So every time a section was deleted it was lost forever. We used to refer to those plans as the The Incredible Shrinking Test Plan, it just got smaller and smaller.

    1. Do you write test plans?
    2. If you use a template, do you have trouble filling it out?
    3. Do you get test plans reviewed by the relevant stakeholders?
    4. Are they approved at any point?
    5. What is your experience in how well they test what you need to test?

And most importantly: Do you ever review them after the project is over and see how well you adhered to the initial outline?

Next Week: Assessments – How