A Framework for QA Test Planning

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When you’re launching a new product, QA (quality assurance) is super important. Whether you’re outsourcing to a QA team or handling checks internally, you need to create a QA test plan. This will ensure that nothing is missed during the quality assurance process. 

If you’re new to QA test planning, this article will answer all of your questions and provide a framework for QA test planning. 

What is QA?

QA is the process of validating that a product meets quality standards. It ensures that the product has no defects or malfunctions by testing it against agreed-upon specifications. It also helps identify any issues with usability early on in the development cycle. This business process transforms a product from the conceptual stage to the market-ready stage.

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What is a QA test plan?

A QA test plan is a document that outlines the steps required to perform the necessary QA testing. It also lists who in your organization will be responsible for each task, which topics are being tested and when it should be completed. 

QA tests fall into various categories:

Exploratory Testing - exploratory testing is more about following your gut and testing whatever you may think of at the time.

Functional Testing - functional testing focuses on the features within a product and making sure they meet requirements

Localization Testing - localization testing verifies that a product works as intended with different languages, currency and time zones.

Performance Testing - performance testing measures how fast a product performs and identifies any bottlenecks in the system.

Security Testing - security testing ensures that your application is secure and doesn’t pose risk to personal information or private data.

Why do you need a test plan?

What happens if you don't do QA? Well, then you potentially end up with a product that nobody wants to use, and you’re probably not going to make any money. A test plan will help identify potential problems early on, which saves time and money in the long run.

Testing your product is preventative maintenance that ensures you launch a high-quality product and don’t end up with tons of costly bugs. When creating a test plan, think about what your company or product is going to be testing. You should also assign responsibilities and determine the necessary tools, scheduling tips, software, people and processes to make the test plan effective. 

How to create the perfect QA test plan

In order to create the perfect test process, you need to focus on implementing processes. This section will provide a framework for creating a QA test plan.

Step 1. Analyze the product

When creating a QA test plan, you need to break down your product into smaller components. This will allow you to identify the best testing process based on the type of product being created:

  • Identify all features of your product
  • Determine how many test cases are needed for each feature
  • List out everything that has to be tested

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Step 2. Analyze the target audience

Another factor that should be considered when creating a QA test plan is your target audience. You need to make sure that you are putting the customer first. This will also ensure that the user is kept in mind during the testing process.

Step 3. Design a strategy

Gather all of the test cases and design a QA testing strategy - this helps you identify not only what needs to be tested, but also when it should be tested for optimal results.

Defining the scope of testing - you need to define the scope of the testing before you get started. This includes deciding what needs to be tested, who will do the testing and when it should be completed.

Identifying types of testing - once you’ve identified the scope,  it's time to determine what types of testing need to be performed. This includes understanding how much testing is needed, as well as the security and privacy risk for your product.

Designing the test approach - after you’ve defined the scope, tested for types of testing and identified the risks involved, it's time to create your test approach.

Step 4. Define the objectives

The next step is to figure out what the objectives of your QA testing are. This includes identifying who is responsible for testing, deciding what will be tested when it should be completed and how the results will be measured. You also need to determine which features need to be tested and how these will be broken down (such as primary vs. secondary objectives). You should consider using SMART objectives for your QA test. 

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Step 5. Determine the criteria of the test

For each feature of your product, you need to determine what criteria need to be met for the test to be successful. These criteria can be broken down into two main subcategories.

Suspension criteria - suspension criteria are conditions that would require the testing to be temporarily stopped.

Exit criteria - exit criteria are conditions that constitute a successful test. When an exit criterion is met, the test can move on to the next stage.

Step 6. Plan resources

Now that you have a strategy and test plan in place, it's time to determine what resources need to be used to get the job done. This includes:

People - figuring out how many people are needed in the team tasks management of the testing.

Time - how much time is required for QA testing.

Tools - if any testing and task management tools will be used during the test process.

Budget - you’ll need to consider the size of your QA testing budget.

Step 7. Plan the test environment

The next step is to design and plan the QA testing environment. This includes everything from where the tests will be performed to how it should be done and who will do it. Here's a basic to-do list:

  • Identify a specific location where testing will occur.
  • Define the types of devices needed for testing.
  • Assign people to different parts of the QA test plan.

Step 8. Schedule and estimation

This step is all about getting your plan ready to go. This includes scheduling the tests for when they need to be performed and how long it should take to complete them.

Step 9. Determine the test deliverables

Last but not least, the deliverables need to be determined. This is where you convey your findings after testing is complete. The goal is to develop a QA test plan that works for your environment and goals. A solid strategy needs to be in place in order to ensure optimal results.

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Required test components and documents

Before you start implementing your QA test plan, you will need to create certain components and documents.

Test plan ID - a test plan ID is required to help distinguish one QA plan from another.

Test summary - provide a brief overview of what was tested and whether any issues were encountered

Test items - all features and functions that were tested.

Schedule - includes when tests are to start and stop, who is responsible, where it will occur, and more.

List of features to be tested - this item is a list of features that will need to be tested. Automating Excel will help you organize this list.  

List of features not to be tested - this item is a list of features that will not be tested.

Approach - how the testing will be done.

Pass and fail criteria - this item will describe the criteria that must be met in order for a test to be considered successful.

Suspension and resumption requirements - this item is a list of conditions that would require the testing to be suspended and/or resumed.

Test deliverables - this is a list of all deliverables that are required once testing is complete.

Testing tasks - a list of all tasks that are required to perform QA testing.

Environmental needs - a list of all items needed to successfully complete QA testing.

Estimate - a planned estimate of time and cost.

Schedule - a list of all milestones and deadlines that need to be met.

Tools and resources - this will detail any tools that will be used for testing.

Staffing and training needs - This will include who is needed, what they will do, and how much time it will take.  

Responsibilities - a list of all resources, timelines, and deliverables needed for QA testing.

Risks - includes any high-impact risks that need to be taken into account.

Assumptions and dependencies - this will include an assumption of what is required to complete the QA test plan.

Metrics and KPIs - includes all items that will need to be tracked.

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In conclusion

A QA test plan is an essential part of the product development cycle. It ensures that a product is ready to be released to a targeted audience. Plus, it ensures that all of the important features are working properly. By automating business processes, you can streamline the QA testing process. This article should have provided you with all of the information you need to create a solid QA test plan.

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