Assuring a Quality Test Plan

07 Aug Assuring a Quality Test Plan

Intro

Creating a welder bros plan is an important part of the software development process, a well written plan will benefit developers, the user acceptance testers, and any other Quality Assurance personnel. A test plan is a document that contains a series of test cases, these test cases are followed by developers, quality assurance testers and user acceptance testers to verify that the site or software is performing correctly during different stages of development.

A test case will often start with an identifying use case number, a short description of the purpose of the test, the part of the section or site that this test pertains to, any previous conditions that must be met or preparations that must be made, and what type of user will be able to complete the test. It might look something like this:

Use Case References the use cases provided in the User Requirements document
Test Purpose The goal of this test case, verifies the functionality of a certain task or process
Component/Module Which section of the site/software this test takes place in (account management, survey creation, edit homepage, map settings)
Initial Conditions/Preparation Anything that must happen before this test can take place (successful login of the user, survey completed, patient screened)
Actors The types of users who are able to complete this task (administrators, researchers, end users)

 

The next part of a test case will be a listing of the required actions for the test, the expected results of each action, and a section to check off whether it passed or failed this test.

The amount of actions you should have for each test depends on the audience you are writing for, which will be covered below.

Though it can be a long and involved process creating a test plan for a large project, I have a few tips that will help you get it right the first time.

Write to your audience

When writing a test plan you should always be aware of who the reader will be. Are the only people to use this plan going to be developers of the site? Then feel free to use more technical jargon. Is this document going to be sent to users who have little computer experience to do User Acceptance Testing? In this case you might want to have shorter steps with easy to understand words. Writing for your intended audience will keep the tone of your document consistent and will speed up the testing process by being easier to follow.

Include quality screenshots

Just because you know who your audience is and how you want to phrase instructions doesn’t mean the reader will immediatly understand what you are trying to say. Sometimes it is quicker and easier for someone to look at a screenshot to get a general idea of what to do and then read the instruction for a more detailed description of the task. For example, if you have an instruction that says “Choose any option from the dropdown list, this will open the corresponding Information Panel.” it might seem simple and easy to follow to you, but if the page is cluttered it could be hard to find the “corresponding Information Panel”. Having a screenshot of what is supposed to open will allow the tester to know what they are looking for before they even complete the instruction. Highlighting elements in a screenshot can also improve the quality and ease of use, even though you know what you’re looking for when looking at a screenshot, the end user might not. Here is an example screenshot showing you how to find the listing of developer blog posts on our site:

Notice how because I’ve quickly highlighted the 2 parts you need to click on there isn’t even a need for a text instruction.

Refer to previous sections

If there is an action in the testing process that must be repeated multiple tmes it is often better to write a detailed and easy to follow description of it once, then in the next tests, post a simplified version with a note referring the user to the detailed description. Not only will this require you to type less it will also reduce the size of the document (file size and page count). In order for this to be implemented well you must make sure to follow a consistent section numbering system.

If a task is integral to the rest of a section consider putting it right at the beginning to make it easy to find, having a step 3.1 Creating a New Asset will be easy to refer to later in section 3 when they need to make a new asset for each test because 3.1 will be right at the start of the section. If you had step 3.2.4 Creating a New Asset it would take a longer for the user to find that section later if they needed to refer to it.

Another benefit to making use of Refer to Previous Section is if anyone needs to make any revisions to the document later, say a new section of the software is added or a major part is changed. If you have clear references to commonly used tests then the next person who is modifying the document will not have to re-write the basic steps, they will see your references and will be able to follow the same style.

Use the Automatic Table of Contents feature

Assuming you are using Microsoft Word to write your test plan, you should be using a combination of the Automatic Table of Contents feature and headings. The Automatic Table of Contents, when updated, will automatically find all of your headings and will populate the table with names, section numbers, and page numbers. As long as you keep a consistent style of headings and section numbers, you will have an easy to follow table of contents that will let you navigate the soft copy of the document very quickly. To find the Automatic Table of Contents feature in Word click on the “References” tab, then the “Table of Contents” button.

Choose any of the automatic tables for ease of use, or manual if you want more control. Next when entering a new section make sure you have the “Home” tab of Word selected and choose the appropriate heading style from the style window.

When you want to update your table just click anywhere on the table and an “Update Table” button will appear at the top left, clicking this will automatically populate the table.

After clicking the update table button you just have to confirm whether you want to update the whole table or only the page numbers.

While these tips do not guarantee you will have a perfect testplan, they should help you improve the quality and speed of your writing.

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