Software Test Plans: A Complete Guide with Templates


Running software tests without a proper software testing plan is a recipe for disaster.

Without a test plan, it can be challenging to streamline the testing approach and ensure all product areas are tested adequately. That means it’s harder to ensure any product issues are identified and fixed before the software goes live.

And, without thoroughly testing the software, the end users will end up battling bugs. You don’t want that.

Fortunately, creating a software test plan does not have to be complicated. In fact, using a template can help make the testing activity a lot easier and ensure that all the vital information is included.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  1. What is a test plan?
  2. Why do you need software test plans?
  3. What should be included in software test plans?
  4. Software test plan templates

So, here’s a complete guide on software test plans with two templates for you at the end.

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What Is a Test Plan?

Just like a software design document outlines how the software will be designed, a test plan document outlines the strategy that will be used to test a software application. 

software test case

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The test plan document usually identifies which software features will be tested, what testing will be performed, who will be responsible for each type of testing, and when the testing will be completed.

It also identifies the environment in which the testing will take place, the resources that will be required, and any risks that could impact the success of the testing. 

Why Do You Need Software Test Plans?

You need software test plan documents because: 

1. They ensure the testing process is efficient and effective: 

Software test plans ensure that the testing process is efficient and effective by identifying which software features need to be tested and what types of testing need to be performed. 

They identify all the critical details that must be considered while testing a software application. This makes sure that nothing important is left untested.

2. They act as a means of communication 

Software test plans act as a means of communication between the different stakeholders — such as the test manager, test lead, and other testers. 

The test plans ensure everyone is on the same page concerning the objectives of the testing effort and the approach that will be taken.

Software test plans also help track the progress of the testing. That is because they contain information on when each type of testing is to be completed. 

3. They let you track the progress of the testing 

This ensures that the testing is on track and that all the testing objectives are met promptly.

What Should Be Included in Software Test Plans?

Several things must be included in a software test plan template to ensure your team gets the most out of it. These include:

1. Test Identification Planner

A test identification planner uniquely identifies a software test plan. It usually contains the following details: 

  • Some form of a unique company-generated number to identify the test plan
  • The title of the software application to be tested. For example, “Master plan for display driver TP_3A2.0”
  • The version number of the software application to be tested
  • The date on which the testing will commence
  • Author details like name, contact number, and email

This information is generally placed at the top of the test plan as a heading. It allows anyone reading the document to quickly and easily identify what the document is, who wrote it, and when.

2. Use Case Documents

These documents are a description of how a user interacts with the software. They also outline how the software should respond to each specific user action.

Example of software test plans

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Including use case documents in your test plan enables your test team to create test cases and ensure that all the relevant functionality is tested.

3. Project Scope (Testing Scope)

The scope of testing defines the boundaries of the project. It outlines what is to be included in the project and what is not to be included.

This is important because it ensures that everyone involved in the project — such as testers and developers — is aware of what needs to be done and what does not need to be done (out of scope).

Defining the project scope has always helped keep our team aligned and focused. It helps our developers know exactly what needs to be tested, whether it’s functional or non-functional components of the software.

The project scope also shows the testers how the items listed will be tested.

4. Test Environment

This is where we specify the hardware and software environment in which the testing will take place. For example, if the software is to be tested on Windows 10, we’ll mention that information in the test plan under the test environment section.

Some other environmental variables you should specify in your test plan are:

  • Level of security
  • The network configuration that will be used
  • The test data
  • Network bandwidth
  • Firewall and CPU capacity

Specifying the test environment is critical for quality assurance. You want your testers to test the software in the right environment to ensure the final test results are accurate. 

Therefore, beyond specifying the necessary and desired test environment, take the necessary steps to ensure the environment is available to your testers. You should also provide any tools that may be required to create the ideal test environment.

5. Access Check for Environments

This ensures that the testers have the necessary permissions and access rights to the environment in which they will be testing. 

For example, if the software is to be tested on a live server, then the testers must have the necessary permissions. Otherwise, they will not be able to carry out the testing.

So, in addition to listing the environments needed for testing, it might be helpful to include who has access to each environment. 

6. Features to Be Tested

Your test plan should include a list of all the features that need to be tested. 

We recommend asking yourself the following questions when creating this list:

  • What are the objectives of the testing?
  • What needs to be tested to achieve these objectives?
  • What are the risks associated with not testing certain features?

This is important so that the testers know what needs to be tested and can plan accordingly.

7. Methodology to Follow

The test methodology is the approach that will be taken during the testing. There are several testing methodologies, each with unique advantages and disadvantages. 

The methodology you choose will depend on several factors, such as the type of the project, the timeline, and the resources available.

Examples of software testing methodologies are Agile, Waterfall, and V-model (verification and validation).

8. Criteria Determination

This refers to a set of criteria that will be used to determine whether the testing has been successful. 

Here is what we usually look for at this stage:

  • All critical test cases passed.
  • There are no bugs.
  • Test case pass rate is more than 95%

This helps to ensure that the testing is carried out effectively and that the software meets all the necessary requirements.

9. Abort Testing Criteria

This is a set of suspension criteria that will be used to determine when to abort the testing. 

For example, the test may be suspended if a significant scope change affects the critical path.

Alongside the abort testing criteria, you’ll need to add the testing resumption criteria in your software test plan templates. This will describe when you’ll resume the testing after a suspension. 

For example, if you suspended the test due to a bug, the test may resume once the software development team provides the latest drop with the bug fix.

10. Test Artifacts to Be Submitted

Test artifacts, also called test deliverables, are the reports and documents created or provided through the testing cycle. The artifacts typically fall into three categories; Reports, Bug Write-Ups or Test Cases, and Documents.

Moreover, each deliverable has unique dependencies. There is usually also a progression from one deliverable to the next. 

Examples of test artifacts include:

  • Test scripts
  • Test executions results
  • Issue logs
  • Test reports
  • Bug report
  • Incident logging report

These documents are shared with the team in charge of testing, the client, and other stakeholders associated with the project to keep them updated about the progress. 

11. Testing Schedule

As the name indicates, this part outlines the details of the testing schedule. This includes testing phases with estimated start and end dates, along with who’s responsible for each phase/step. 

The testing schedule is generally created at the beginning of the project. However, we encourage test managers to update the testing schedules as needed as the project progresses. 

The schedule helps to ensure that the testing is carried out in a timely and efficient manner.

Software Test Plan Templates

Now that you know what should be included in a software test plan, here are two templates you can use so you don’t miss out on anything important. 

Template #1: 

(Your company name and logo) 

Project Name: 

Prepared By: (Name of the key people from the testing team)

Revision History: (Description of any changes made, version number, who made the changes, and date when the changes were made) 

(Table of Contents)

1. Overview

  1. General description of the project
  2. In Scope
    • What will be tested (major testing tasks)
    • The plan for testing (how the testing will be conducted)
    • What resources are needed

2. Testing

  1. Methodology to be followed during the testing
  2. Description of the methodology
  3. Platform Testing
    • Specify the platform your software will be tested for
  4. Regression Testing
    • Identify if regression testing is needed
  5. Other Testing Types
    • Security testing
    • Connectivity testing
    • Disaster recovery testing
    • Integration testing
    • Unit testing
    • User acceptance testing
    • Automation testing
    • Stress testing

3. Testing Strategy

  1. What kind of approach is taken
  2. Who is responsible for each test

4. Test Schedule

  1. Dates of execution
  2. Prioritization of functions to be tested

5. Facility and resources needed

  1. Resources and skills
  2. Test environment
    • Operating system
    • Version of the operating system
    • Hardware configurations
    • Software dependencies
    • Network configuration
  3. Any special access needed
  4. Data set for testing

6. Tools

  1. Define what tools are needed for testing

7. Test Metrics

  1. Define what metrics need to be recorded and the reasons to record them

8. Control Measures

  1. Define any control measures for the testing environment

9. Roles and responsibilities

  1. Roles and responsibilities of the people associated with each testing phase

10. Criteria Determination:

  1. List of criteria to be used to determine the success of the testing
  2. List of criteria to be used to determine when to abort the testing
  3. Resumption criteria to determine when to resume testing once paused

11. Use Case Documents/resources:

  1. Use case name and ID number
  2. Description of the use case
  3. Preconditions for the use case
  4. Successful execution scenario of the use case
  5. Alternate execution scenarios of the use case
  6. Exit criteria for the use case

12. Administration

  1. Approvals
  2. Training

13. References

 14. Point of contact

  1. Emails & phone numbers

Template #2: 

(Project Name) 

Software under test:

Software version: 

  1. Introduction
  2. Test identifier
  3. Unique ID

3. Details of the test plan

  1. The combinations of features that need to be tested
  2. Expected results
  3. Actual results

4. Test artifacts/deliverable documents

  1. Bug report
  2. Test log
  3. Test data
  4. Design
  5. Test summary

 5. Methodology

  1. Description of the software testing activities
  2. List of features that are to be tested and that are not to be tested

 6. Necessary Environmental needs

  1. Hardware
  2. Software
  3. Security
  4. Testing tools

7. Staff responsibilities

  1. Roles and responsibilities
  2. Training needs (if any)

 8. Identified Risks and Constraints 

  1. Specify any anticipated risks or constraints on testing, like test-item availability and testing-resource availability, and plans for mitigating them
  2. Contingency plans

9. Approvals

  1. Signatures of relevant authorities
  2. Dates of approvals

10. Change Log

  1. Record any changes made with a detailed description of every change and the date it was made

In Closing

Software test plans are detailed documents that outline the approach to testing a piece of software. They are created at the beginning of the project and updated as the project progresses. The test plan helps to ensure that the testing is carried out in a timely and efficient manner.

To help you create an effective software test plan, we’ve shown you the details you’ll need to add to your plan. You’ve also seen two software test plan templates that you could use for inspiration.

Therefore, with this handy guide at your disposal, you should be able to write comprehensive test plans.

Next Steps

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