Test planning, it’s that task testers are often asked to perform at short notice and frequently without enough information. It’s something that sounds like it should be easy, but all too often turns into something more challenging. As testers, we also find that we sometimes become accountable based on a test plan that was formed in a hurry without enough information to begin with. Is there anything we can do to avoid this?
The following are some pointers and things to consider to help identify the things that might go wrong and the things we would like to do.
One of the key lessons I’ve learnt is that whilst the bulk of planning may occur early on in a project, or even before it officially commences the reality is that all plans change and often quite quickly. The “task” of test planning is something that is likely to evolve during a project and will take on multiple forms and shapes.
There are several “rules” that we should endeavour to adhere too:
Rule 1 – Identify what type of planning needs to be accomplished for the given project/piece of work.
Rule 2 – Identify the target audience of the plan.
Rule 3 – Don’t over plan. Early in a project you will not need to account for what people will be doing by the half hour in several weeks/months’ time.
Rule 4 – Don’t create an unrealistic or unachievable plan. Plans should be there to succeed, not fail.
Rule 5 – Accept that any plan will change and that it is only a guide and starting position.
Who is the plan for?
You may need to have multiple plans depending on their intended use and audience. A plan for yourself to figure what needs to be done, may not be the same as the plan that a project manager may require to then assess the feasibility of a project. Or indeed a plan to communicate to other team members what they should be working on.
Thus, it is of upmost importance to understand who you are targeting with any plan that you create.
Which flavour of plan?
There are two main ways to plan:
1. A scope you want to achieve. So, you are therefore planning on how to achieve this scope and figure out how long it will take.
2. A deadline, i.e. there is a hard stop duration or date. And you are planning to say what can and can’t be done in that time frame for a given effort.
Of course, what will usually happen is, you will be asked to make everything fit into an impossible timescale; “test as much as you can in the shortest time possible”. This however is just setting yourself and the project up for failure and should be avoided at all costs.
To read the full how-to guide for test planning, click below.