How do you plan and conduct software testing?
It’s tempting to skip the boring documentation process and take action right away, but you’d better not.
Quality assurance (QA) and development teams need to know how to write test documentation to have full control of their software testing projects. But if you never did it before, a variety of document types and examples must overwhelm you at the beginning.
We’re here to give you a helping hand and introduce you to must-have components of any testing documentation and share six templates QA engineers and developers alike can use to successfully plan and execute software tests.
When you need test documentation
The short answer is “whenever you put your software application under test.” But if you need a more reasonable explanation of why and when you should bother to create testing documentation, here you go:
When you want to standardize the process
We can’t stress enough the importance of process standardization in every aspect of your business — and the development and testing processes are no exception.
By developing test documentation, you create standard operation procedures (SOPs) to be followed every time a QA engineer or developer performs software testing. These documents will outline essential steps in the quality assurance process and ensure more effective communication between QA and developers.
When you want to keep track of your testing activities
Software test documentation allows you to stay on top of the testing process and know exactly what activities have led you to the results you’ve got. In other words, it makes your test traceable.
When being able to trace every test activity, a QA engineer can easily write test reports that help a product team improve software functionality and address issues if needed.
When you want to improve transparency with a client
If you work on a client project, documenting the testing process increases transparency between the development team and the customer.
Proper documentation allows you to maintain honest communication about the project’s status and avoid unpleasant surprises. It also helps to keep your QA and development teams more accountable to your clients.
When you want to bring new developers up to speed fast
Creating standard test documentation helps to bring new developers up to speed faster by providing a reference point for them to understand the system they are working on. It outlines the objectives, scope, approach and focus of a software testing effort, allowing new developers to quickly gain an understanding of the system and its requirements.
It reduces the time it takes for new developers to become familiar with the system, thus increasing the overall efficiency of the development team.
When you want to increase testing efficiency
Poor quality assurance is among the top reasons for startup failure. Creating test documentation can become your first step to creating a more efficient QA process and building a product users love.
Software test documentation provides a reference point for testers. It can be used to ensure that all testing activities are properly documented and shared with other team members. In addition, it helps to identify areas where additional testing may be necessary, as well as to provide guidance on the best way to approach a given test.
Types of test documentation
Here are eight must-have components of testing documentation:
- Test scenarios.
- Test case.
- Test plan.
- Requirement traceability matrix (RTM)
- Test strategy.
- Test data.
- Bug report.
- Test execution report.
Test scenarios are descriptions of the steps a tester needs to take to verify the functionality of a system. They are used to identify the different paths a user might take when using a system and to ensure that each path is tested.
A test case is a set of conditions or variables under which a system should be tested. It is used to ensure that the software meets its specified requirements and behaves as expected.
A test plan is a document that outlines the objectives, scope, approach and focus of a software testing effort. It is used to identify the resources, test environment, test schedule and testing activities that will be used to ensure that software is of good quality.
Requirement traceability matrix (RTM)
An RTM is a document that maps requirements to test cases. It helps to ensure that all requirements are tested and that any changes in requirements are tracked.
A test strategy, or test policy, is a document that outlines the overall approach to testing a system. It is used to define the objectives of a test effort and the techniques that will be used to achieve those objectives.
Test data is the data that is used to test a system. It can include both valid and invalid data, and is used to ensure that the system behaves as expected.
A bug report is a document that describes a bug found in a system. It is used to track and document the progress of fixing the bug.
Test execution report
A test execution report is a document that summarises the results of a software test. It is usually presented in a tabular format and contains information such as the number of test cases run, the number of test cases passed or failed, the time taken to complete the tests and any other relevant information.
6 Test documentation templates
You don’t have to start from scratch when building your own testing documentation. These six templates will serve as a great starting point.
Some of our templates are built with Scribe, documentation software for productive teams. Scribe can follow your testing activities and present step-by-step processes that you can include in your testing documentation as a visual aid.
You can embed the resulting processes in Scribe Pages and customize your test documents the way you want.
1. Test strategy template
This test strategy template is a comprehensive document that covers almost every aspect of your testing documentation.
This document outlines the test policy for [Company Name]. This policy establishes the framework for how testing should be conducted in order to ensure that the software meets its specified requirements and behaves as expected.
This policy applies to all software developed and tested by [Company Name], including both new and existing software.
3. Test Strategy
The test strategy should incorporate the following elements:
- Test objectives: Outline the objectives of the test effort and the techniques that will be used to achieve those objectives.
- Test environment: Identify the resources, test environment, test schedule and testing activities that will be used to ensure that the software is of good quality.
- Test cases: Define the conditions and variables under which the system should be tested.
- Test data: Create valid and invalid data to test the system.
- Test scripts: Develop a set of instructions that a tester must follow in order to execute a test.
- Requirement traceability matrix: Create a document that maps requirements to test cases.
- Bug report: Document any issues found in the system.
4. Test Process
The following process should be followed when conducting a software test:
- Planning: Outline the objectives and scope of the test effort.
- Execution: Execute the tests according to the test plan and test scripts.
- Analysis: Analyze the results of the tests and document any issues found.
- Reporting: Create a test report summarizing the results of the tests and any issues found.
All software developed and tested by [Company Name] should adhere to this testing policy. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.
This policy is subject to change and may be reviewed and revised at any time.
7. Date of Implementation
This policy will be effective as of [date].
2. Test scenario template
This test document outlines the specific steps a tester needs to take to verify the functionality of a system.
You need a test scenario template to ensure that the tests are performed in a consistent and repeatable manner.
This document outlines the test scenario for [Software Name]. It is used to identify the different paths a user might take when using the software and to ensure that each path is tested.
2. Test scenario ID
[Assign unique IDs to each test scenario.]
3. Test scenario
[Describe each step of the test process in detail.]
4. Expected result
[Describe the expected result of the test scenario.]
5. Acceptance criteria
[List the criteria that must be met for the test scenario to be considered successful.]
6. Date of implementation
This test scenario will be effective as of [date].
3. Test case template
While the test scenario focuses on evaluating end-to-end functionality, the test case assesses specific features of the application in isolation.
1. Test case ID
[Each test case in a test scenario should be assigned a unique ID. To distinguish between different IDs, create and follow a consistent naming convention.]
2. Test case description
[Specify what exactly you’re testing at this stage of the test scenario.]
[If there are any conditions to be met before running the test, specify them here.]
4. Test steps
[Write down all the test steps.]
5. Test data
[Gather and document all the data needed to perform the test successfully.]
6. Expected result
[Explain what outcomes you expect to achieve with the test.]
7. Post condition
[Define what should happen if the test is successful.]
8. Actual result
[Document the result the system shows after you’ve performed the test.]
[This is the test verdict. If the result meets your expectations, the status is Passed. If not, you should mark it as Failed.]
4. Traceability matrix template
The creation of a Traceability Matrix isn’t the primary deliverable for QA teams – but you shouldn’t ignore it.
The document connects the dots between the user requirements proposed by the client to the application being tested. In short, it’s a high-level document that maps test cases to user requirements to ensure the maximum test coverage for every required feature.
[Brief product or feature description.]
[The date of document creation.]
[Specific project requirement.]
[More information on how to meet the requirement.]
5. Requested by
[The name of a person who requested the feature.]
6. Business need
[Justification of the requirement.]
[Test case ID.]
8. Test case
[The name of the relevant test case.]
[Mark if the test is successful or not.]
5. Defect report template
A defect report is created when a problem is identified during the software testing process. It is the responsibility of the testers to document the details of the defect, including the steps taken to reproduce the defect, the expected result and the actual result.
The defect report may also include any screenshots or videos that may be relevant in order to accurately diagnose the issue.
1. Defect ID
[The name identifying the defect.]
[The day the defect was detected.]
[Details about the defect.]
4. Steps to reproduce
[Steps to take to spot the defect.]
5. Expected result
[How the program should have responded to the test.]
6. Actual result
[How it actually responds.]
7. Screenshot/Video of the defect (if applicable)
[It’s good to record a screencast to display the defect in action.]
[How seriously the defect affects the product’s functionality.]
[How urgent it is to address the defect.]
[Choose between Open, Assigned, In Progress or Closed.]
6. Test execution report template
You’ll need to write a test execution report to document the results of software testing. It is typically filled out after each test cycle and used to track the progress of the tests, identify any issues and provide feedback on the overall process.
1. Project name
[The name of the entire test project.]
[Who is responsible for the test.]
[When the test has been run.]
4. Test cycle description
[A sequence of specific activities conducted during the testing process.]
5. Test cases executed
[What test cases have been run during the test.]
6. Test result summary
[Summary of the overall status of the project.]
7. Test issues/Defects found
[Issues detected while performing the test.]
8. Test coverage
[How much of your application has been tested.]
[What you’re going to do next.]
How to write your own test documents for software testing
When you get down to preparing for another software test, follow this checklist:
1. Identify the goals and objectives of the test documentation: Outline the purpose of the test documentation and the objectives it should achieve.
2. Analyze the current system and the test requirements: Analyze the system to identify any areas that need to be tested and any requirements that need to be addressed.
3. Develop a test strategy: Define the objectives of the test effort and the techniques that will be used to achieve those objectives.
4. Identify the resources needed to complete the tests: Identify the personnel, equipment and other resources that are needed to complete the tests.
5. Develop the test cases: Define the conditions and variables under which the system should be tested.
6. Create the test data: Create valid and invalid data to test the system.
7. Create the test scripts: Develop a set of instructions that a tester must follow in order to execute a test.
8. Create the requirement traceability matrix: Create a document that maps requirements to test cases.
9. Create the bug report: Document any issues found in the system.
10. Summarize the results with the test execution report: Document your actual test process and all your findings.
Time to build your testing documentation
Writing software testing documentation helps you keep track of your testing activities and resolve issues faster. Keep your testing documents concise and up-to-date, and you’ll improve the efficiency of your software testing.