Friday, February 19, 2010

Test Plan Motivation

I sometimes have occasion to look back at our older test plans. Usually I'm digging through it looking to see if we tested something consistently with a newer test plan, how we might have missed a defect that leaked, refreshing my memory on performance for that release, etc.

Generally this look brings up other questions about what was going on in that release. Why did we skip performance testing that time? Why did we do extra tests around Active Directory integration? It's fairly easy to remember that for the last release or two, but it gets a lot harder the further back you go.

Our test plan should say why.

This would be a lot easier if we simply put the reasoning down in the test plan. There is an intent in a test plan, a set of circumstances that motivates you to look at a product in some ways and not in others. You'll forget that if you don't write it down.

Test plan motivations (or intents) can be very simple things:
  • "Point release with tightly controlled changes, so only doing a smoke test in other areas."
  • "Performance tests will not be performed because the new hardware to do it won't be in before release."
  • "Many recent customer complaints about Active Directory ease of integration, so additional focus there."
Just write down why you're doing the test plan the way you are. In a year, when you don't remember the motives behind the plan, it will be very useful to be able to look it up.


  1. Absolutely and as a consultant, this is something I've learned the hard way. Depending on the project (funding, timelines, etc...) the client often only wants certain types of testing performed. I try to analyze everything from the code to the architecture and document every area that could be tested and document why.

    This gives them a better picture of what's going on and then they can decide the risk/cost justifaction for each. Then, as I review them with the client, I document why they aren't tested. Sadly test plans and test strategies are often blown through due to time crunches or sheer laziness.

    Great points for anyone new to the testing world (and a great reminder for those who aren't so new).

  2. Nice idea catherine, its a valuable tip for me.
    but i just have one question for you , can you give me a contents outline that should be the part of good test plan,(according to your point of view).

    I will appreciate your feedback.

    Keep writting .