Hierarchy of test documentation
As quality assurance makes or breaks business endeavours, it is no wonder that there are different layers to test documentation. QA testing strategy is not at the top of the pyramid, and it’s not something that testers directly interface with either.
The test documentation hierarchy is the following:
- Test policy is the high-level overview that covers the company’s primary goals and principles of testing. It focuses on the business value of QA without diving into any details. Test policy doesn’t undergo changes often, but that is not a problem as it is other levels of test documentation that deal with practical matters
- Test strategy by definition covers at least several projects. It covers enough ground to be a practical guide, e.g. scope of testing, test levels and test types, addressed risks and even methodology for actual tests. Preparing a test strategy is also a great insurance for your new projects, as your staff will have something to work off before going low-level. Test strategy may also have some distilled testing objectives, even more so if there is no test policy in place
- Test plan describes how you as a company can achieve the goals outlined in your test policy and test strategy. This is a per project or even per sprint low-level overview that includes test schedule, the tech stack used for QA (including an on-premise or web-based test case management tool), and project/sprint-specific risks. You can learn more about the overlap between test plan and test strategies in our earlier article.
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How to write test strategy document
When you create strategies for testing, it is important to remember about the business side of things. This is why the QA lead is usually the right person for the job. Here is how it would go:
- Consult test policy to see company-wide QA and business principles
- Meet project stakeholders to discuss project’s workflows, potential risks, and developer expertise in early testing
- Create a test strategy draft (more on that in a test strategy sample below)
- Invite stakeholders for a review and amendments
- Share the strategy with the QA team to discuss concerns and potential changes
- Adopt the strategy
Types of testing strategy
There is a variety of testing strategies, and the choice is not as binary as picking a manual vs automation testing strategy. Here are some examples:
- Methodical strategy deals with pre-requisites like ISO standards
- Consultative strategy involves key stakeholders to help you identify potential risks
- Analytical strategy implies creating tests based on requirements before features were implemented
- Reactive strategy concerns testing after the product was already launched in production
- Regression-averse strategy covers regression risks for updates to both newly developed and in-production software
- Model-based strategy uses a model that simplifies real-life performance of entire software or a system to speed up test execution
Example of a good test strategy
As the company providing testing tool for agile software development since 2013, here is what a good test strategy would include:
- Test scope
- Test levels
- Testing tools
- Entry and exit criteria
- Change management
- Environment (e.g. dev, test, prod)
- Compatibility requirements
This list is not exhaustive: we’ve listed the main components that a testing strategy should have. Adding anything extra (such as specifying deliverables) depends on the state of your test documentation and QA maturity. We will be following up on this article with a full-fledged sample test strategy.
Tips to develop successful QA test strategy
- Have a look at test strategy templates available on the internet. They may give you some inspiration even if the described project comes from a completely different industry
- Consult other stakeholders to make sure that the test strategy aligns with the business goals
- Ensure that your test strategy slots well into the test hierarchy. Don’t go too high-level if you have a test policy to lean on. Don’t go too low-level if you know there is a test plan coming as well.
- Find the right QA tools. This is a key part of implementing a test strategy: you need a reliable test management solution with integrations to handle all other QA tools
Testing strategy is arguably the most crucial piece of the test documentation hierarchy. It connects business objectives with the practicalities of quality assurance to drive company-based and project-based testing efforts. A good testing strategy requires an experienced QA lead and good communication with other stakeholders to tailor the best practices to your project.
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