Developing an Effective Test Strategy

A test strategy document is a test outline document that explains the testing approach of the software development cycle. It is created by the test managers to inform clients, project managers, testers, and developers about some key issues and decisions of the testing process. This includes the testing objective, methods of testing new functions, total time and resources required for the project, and the testing environment. It is a strategy plan for defining testing approach, what you want to accomplish and how you are going to achieve it.

It helps in evading all unclear and uncertain requirements and creating a basic structure for the testing project. Test strategy is one of the most important documents for QA team. Writing it effectively is a skill every tester should achieve in their career.

Effective Test Strategy: The insufficient testing and QA can lead organizations down a dangerous path which can lead to wasted time, money, and effort. Unfortunately, many organizations are not pulling out the right benefit through the test strategy document. It is a simple and straight-forward process, still a lot of projects miss out in creating the effective strategy document or copying it from other projects without understanding the purpose. The Quality team of some organizations throw-out various templates, jargons and complex calculations, which makes this process more undesirable.

The purpose of writing a test strategy is to plot the strategic plan on how test efforts will be distributed across the project. This is usually done at the beginning of Project Development Life Cycle where high-level system architecture and processes are being identified and then tracked throughout the project lifecycle.

Every project is different from another and hence, their needs as well. The choice of test approaches or test strategy is one of the most powerful factors in the success of the testing project. Instead of making it jumbled up, it is better to understand various components of the strategy document and how to plot them. There are various factors which needs to be considered before creating the test strategy document, few of them are:

  • Project Risks: Risk management is very important during the testing phase. Hence, consider the risks and the level of the risk. Understanding and analyzing risks before the beginning of the project is essential to overcome the project delays in the later stages.
  • Skills: It is also important to analyze the current skills, the testers possess knowledge in your team. In case, there are some skills which the testers lack, the training for the same can be planned for effective implementation.
  • Objectives: The objective of the testing has to be clear before starting the project. The focus has to be implemented in the same manner as the objective of the testing activity.
  • Business: Business considerations and business continuity are often important. If you can use a legacy system as a model for a new system, you can use a model-based strategy and can save time, effort and cost.

Writing a Test Strategy

When writing a test strategy, the following aspects should be considered:

  • Testing objectives
  • Testing guidelines
  • Testing approach
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Levels of testing
  • Test requirements
  • Test deliverable
  • Entry and exit criteria
  • Defect management
  • What test reports will be provided
  • Test environment information and migration procedures
  • Test Constraints
  • Test Risk including project and product risks

The templates for the test strategy would be available everywhere. Just don’t follow the templates without understanding the purpose of the same. Every project has its own requirements and constraints. Hence, it is important to focus on the things that work perfectly for the project. Do not copy any organization or any standard blindly.

Tips for Creating an Enterprise Test Strategy

With all these challenges in place, there is a better way to roll out a successful and effective Test Strategy document. Here are few tips which can be considered as the “steps to success” to help in developing a fail-proof strategy:

  • Form your team and treat it as a regular client-facing project

Treat the teams and vendors as stakeholders, and allow them to review the document at various stages. You can also work with outside consultants or test specialists to help in identifying the gaps, as well as provide standards and best practices, but ownership of the strategy should remain with the enterprise itself.

  • Follow a workshop approach with Stakeholders

Including a workshop with senior leadership to identify the challenges and define these criteria can be an ideal tip. The workshop would ensure that the stakeholders have agreed upon the common applicability of objectives. The takeaways from the workshop could be used by the team to outline the measurement criteria for training and adoption/compliance within the organization.

  • Allow for Customizations

Standardization of the documentation is desirable, but not at the expense of team individuality, productivity and innovation – so ensure that the mandatory elements are included at a minimum, along with customized features that address your enterprise’s specific requirements. The customization as per the project helps in improving the process.

Developing a good test strategy plan and committing to follow it, will definitely improve testing process and quality of the software. The process may differ from project to project and Organization to Organization. It may be a good idea to create a template at organization-level but allow customization to the templates to give the flexibility. Understand the requirements before implementing the template, which can help in easy configuration.

Sharon Christine
Sharon Christine

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