International Project Management Day




Project Test Plan


Quick Summary
Screenshot Testing without a plan leads to chaos in the test phase. This plan outline walks you through the process from initial test planning to documentation and project implementation, with detailed annotations and suggestions for test types you may want to consider.


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What this is

The goal of test planning is to determine which tasks must occur to assess a software project's quality by validating its requirements. The test plan document is the key strategic document for a software project's testing phase. The test plan describes the entire test process from initial test planning and design through project implementation. It describes the overall test strategy and related tasks, which roles perform each testing-related task, and the timing of those items.

The test plan document is both administrative and operational. Though the plan is created early during a software project, it is considered an evolving document that provides value even during the maintenance phase of the software.


Why it's useful

Creating a formal test plan document allows the testing team to have a well thought out, proactive approach to the software quality control process. It provides a mechanism for ensuring appropriate coverage of the system's requirements. Testing without a plan leads to chaos in the test phase.

Early development of the test plan is helpful because it should lead to decisions regarding the test team's participation where their contributions are important, such as requirements work. The test plan outlines and describes the tools, resources, and environment needed by the test team, and this early identification of support tools allows the project management team to plan for related costs, etc. It also facilitates communication between the test lead and members of the test team, and between the test team and other project teams, customers, and management groups.

Finally, the test plan document allows the testing and management teams to gauge the success of the testing effort, by including specific, measurable goals.


How to use it

  1. Create a draft of the test plan during the initial planning phase of the project. Usually, this draft will be prepared by the test lead.
  2. Share the initial draft with the test team for feedback and incorporate their suggestions into the final draft.
  3. Provide a copy of the test plan to the project manager and other project leads for approval. Approvals for each version should be noted in the table on the last page of the document.
  4. Modify the document as needed throughout the project. Changes to the test strategy should be shared with the test team, as well as other impacted roles, and updates approved.
About the Author

Sinikka L. Waugh, PMP, is the founder and head coach of the project management coaching firm Your Clear Next Step, L.L.C. Sinikka is an actively practicing project management consultant, known for consistently helping teams find innovative ways to leverage effective project strategies across multiple disciplines and technologies. With over 10 years in project roles (primarily program manager, project manager, and business analyst) Sinikka has successfully applied project and leadership expertise to improve project performance in a wide variety of industries, including publishing, education, product fulfillment and distribution, insurance, event and travel management, human resources, and financial services. As a coach, Sinikka's down-to-earth, "try this now" approach blends with her passion for helping others improve. Her energetic and engaging style helps make both the art and science of project management accessible to those she works with.

Sinikka holds a BA from Central College, an MA from the University of Iowa, and is a certified Project Management Professional through the Project Management Institute.


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