Monday, 7 October 2013

Developing and Documenting a Software Testing Strategy

Developing and Documenting a Software


The software industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade and the industry is definitely poised to control its growth trajectory even if at a lower rate as a result of the global crisis. In the face of limited resources availability, just developing newer software is not sufficient; software developers need to focus on quality, while companies need to invest significantly in developing their own Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) parameters in line with global standards. Software development companies also need to focus on developing a strategy to test any newly developed software to reduce bugs and coding errors, which often creep into software. Here I will discuss the best practices for documenting such a software development strategy.

Scope and Overview

This is the starting section of the software documentation and provides information about the scope of the strategy document. This section clearly mentions the purpose the strategy document while providing key information about the type of software and devices, which will be utilized to perform the testing. Additionally, this section also contains information about the various steps and precautions, which would be taken by the organization as part of its strategy for testing new software.

Test Approach

The test approach section is dedicated to providing details of the testing methodology, which will be followed. Key information available in this section would also include the level of testing as well as the responsibilities and role of each person in the testing process. In case of each test type mentioned in this section, additional information required would include the parameters to be followed for regression, load, performance testing etc. The list of available parameters is quite extensive and depends on the purpose of the software developed as well as the resources at the disposal of the testing.

Test Environment

This is a very important aspect of the strategy as test conditions should ideally mimic the actual operating conditions of the software, while allowing the tester to vary specific conditions to determine performance issues that could affect overall performance. Key features of the environment would include number of users as well as hardware parameters such as memory, free disk space etc. This section of the document should also include information about backup and restore processes, which may be utilized for the software.

Testing Tools

This section of the testing strategy document is dedicated to defining test management and automation criteria for the specific type of software. In case of load, performance testing the document must provide a list of required tools as well as test approach information. Ideally, the document should also clearly state the commercial or open source nature of the tool, while providing information about the user support available while using the tool.

Release Control and Risk Analysis

Being the first in the market does not always guarantee success, that's what many have learnt the hard way. This section of the document allows you to define and refine the release strategy of new software so that benefits are maximized while bugs are minimized in the post development phase. Additionally, the company can also provide information about all real and perceived risk to the market success of their software. The risk analysis would help in maintaining a record of all contingency plans devised in case the risk factor happens in real life.

Review and Approvals

This section of the software strategy document allows companies to define and state their procedures for reviewing the results of the testing, followed by the quantification of minimum qualifying criteria for new software. This section helps the testing team to easily differentiate between software that is ready for approval as opposed to software which requires reworking. These are some of the best practices for creating such a strategy document, which can provide a competitive advantage to the software development company and help it maximize the benefits from its testing resources.

Author: Abhishek Chakravarti
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