Monday, April 13, 2009

What is a Test Plan?

Software Test Plan

A test plan documents the strategy that will be used to verify and ensure that a product or system meets its design specifications and other requirements. A test plan is usually prepared by or with significant input from Test Engineers. (Wikipedia)

The plans are to be prepared by experienced people only. In all test plans, the ETVX {Entry-Task-Validation-Exit} criteria are to be mentioned. Entry means the entry point to that phase. For example, for unit testing, the coding must be complete and then only one can start unit testing. Task is the activity that is performed. Validation is the way in which the progress and correctness and compliance are verified for that phase. Exit tells the completion criteria of that phase, after the validation is done. For example, the exit criterion for unit testing is all unit test cases must pass.

According to IEEE 829, the most common standard for software test plans:


A description of the purpose of the application under test.

Features to be tested

A list of the features in the software that will be tested. It is a catalog of all of the test cases (including a test case number and title) that will be conducted, as well as all of the base states.

Features not to be tested

A list of any areas of the software that will be excluded from the test, as well as any test cases those were written but will not be run.


A description of the strategies that will be used to perform the test.

Suspension criteria and resumption requirements

Suspension criteria are the conditions that, if satisfied, require that the test be halted. Resumption requirements are the conditions that are required in order to restart a suspended test.

Environmental Needs

A complete description of the test environment or environments. This should include a description of hardware, networking, databases, software, operating systems, and any other attribute of the environment that could affect the test.


An estimated schedule for performing the test. This should include milestones with specific dates.

Acceptance criteria

Any objective quality standards that the software must meet, in order to be considered ready for release. This may include things like stakeholder sign-off and consensus, requirements that the software must have been tested under certain environments, minimum defect counts at various priority and severity levels, minimum test coverage numbers, etc.

Roles and responsibilities

A list of the specific roles that will be required for people in the organization, in order to carry out the test. This list can indicate specific people who will be testing the software and what they are responsible for.

Also See:
Purpose of Test Plan
Software Test Plan Templates