International Project Management Day




System Test Plan


Quick Summary
Annotated document outline for a System Test Plan. Describes how the team will internally verify that the system as a whole functions as planned under a variety of use conditions, before performing any external customer beta or acceptance testing. Also includes System Test Report outline for documenting and communicating results.


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What this is

An annotated document outline for a System Test Plan and an outline for a System Test Report. As part of a project's full testing approach, the System Test Plan provides a detailed description of the internal testing to be performed on a full system once it has completed integration testing. The goal is to internally verify that the system as a whole functions as planned under a variety of use conditions, before performing any external customer beta or acceptance testing.


Why it's useful

Thorough system test planning ensures that:

  • The system will be exercised functionally as a whole to confirm that all features work as planned from a customer viewpoint.
  • The system will be exercised from a real-world perspective, as much as is possible in the lab, testing for performance under load, handling of real-world error conditions, and so forth.
  • Issues will be identified and corrected before putting the system into the hands of customers.

The test plan identifies the testing to be performed, clarifies the criteria for testing readiness and test completion, and covers related tasks and deliverables needed to support testing. It helps the team be truly ready to execute thorough system tests and find and correct issues, before moving on to external customer beta or acceptance testing - where the impact of any remaining defects will be much higher.


How to use it

  1. Draft a version of the System Test Plan while development is underway. This timing will give the team lead time for obtaining the sometimes-significant amount of equipment needed to achieve realistic-enough functional and load testing in the lab.
  2. Review the test plan with cross-functional team members to ensure that all testing aspects are covered. Include development and test group members, team members (e.g. manufacturing or IT) responsible for providing test infrastructure, and team members who are close to the customer requirements and environment. The latter will be able to help review the plan for how well it covers conditions likely to be encountered at typical customers. Some of those conditions may not be testable in the lab, and instead relegated to a beta test activity at customers. Either way, the customer viewpoint will be brought to system test planning to help ensure that the testing is as on target and thorough as possible for the intended customer environments.
  3. Update the test plan as the system test phase nears and hold another review.
  4. Use the plan as the guiding document as testers start to write detailed test cases. Review the cases for each type of testing against this plan to ensure that the intent of the testing has been met with a comprehensive set of cases.
  5. When testing is due to start, use the plan to ensure that all elements are in place and that entry criteria for testing have been met.
  6. As testing gets underway, manage the test team against the schedule dates in the plan.
  7. As testing nears closure, reference the document to ensure that completion criteria have been met.
  8. Use the System Test Report format to summarize testing results and confirm that the system test effort has accomplished its goals.

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Related Templates
Project Test Plan
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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