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How QA Lead benefits from a Test Plan in terms of processes? I am interested in specifics. What practical usage QA Lead has from a test plan? Currently, I have only seen that it is required for the customer in terms of reporting but I am having a hard time seeing the practical benefits towards the actual testing. Types of testing and approach to testing in my opinion can be conveyed verbally and it is unlikely that a qualified tester will discover some new information on how he should test from a test plan.

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  • Even historically, the idea was never to give new information to tester but to develop and share an implementation plan for & with the stakeholders to achieve the agreed upon testing goals. Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 13:52
  • Written test plans for executing manual tests are largely pre-agile artifacts being produced by the same but now "agile" organizations. The quotes are imported. See Agile manifesto. Software over comprehensive documentation. Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 14:41

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This will likely change according to a context. You might find it unnecessary to even have such a document, because your organisation perhaps works in Agile where we generally prefer working software over comprehensive documents. Also the teams in an Agile environment tend to be small (seven plus minus two is a number that's usually mentioned as ideal), which it then easier and in many instances sufficient to use verbal communication.

I can, however, imagine some other environment where there's more need for formality, which then implies having such documents. Typically we can talk about:

  • projects where we're expected to create such documents because of law and regulations, something like critical safety industries come to mind, even though I have never worked in such an environment, so I don't speak from my own experience here
  • projects that involve many people who do not work in Agile
  • when a client asks for such a document, so it's a part of the solution the client pays for

it is unlikely that a qualified tester will discover some new information

Perhaps it's not about getting new information, but having a framework I can look into and see if I'm on the right track. A section of a test plan with a few bullet points can give you more ideas about what you might have forgotten. Having said that, perhaps it can be used more like a thought generation tool than an exact script of activities to do (since you likely know yourself how to test and use your skills to help the project).

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I agree that test plans typically do not benefit QA Leads, they only serve the customer if the product uses mature tech stacks and processes. That's just not how it works when those things change.

Suppose your test team was testing RESTful APIs using the Postman GUI client on JSON. Then you adopt Kafka with its new data structure (avro) and need an avro compatible GUI client if you want the test team to test the same way. You find out that you can't use the GUI client. You then have this awkward situation where you can't access the code at different layers if all you know is using RESTful APIs. You can't test a huge chunk of what Kafka offers. You need a plan on how to manage these risks. You could make testers use the CLI to get the data, but that's slow. You could get a test harness made to speed it up. Who's going to make and maintain it? And these problems are only for manual testing.

The test plan can answer these risks. You also get a history of how effective your mitigations are. Databases only give you the ability to rollback state to before the release. That mitigation may work in test but it's slow in prod. You need to test the mitigations. Can you roll back to a state that's not a mess? Can you replay the changes in state anytime during the outage? (These are questions I've asked myself in Kafka).

Can we test earlier on our local machines? You might not have a test environment ready and the environments are never the same anyway. But now, tech's got environment provisioning, automated deployment, playbooks, that can make environments come up configured in source control which work on any host. You get to test much earlier, finding the environment dependencies like which version of the .NET runtime to have on the target environment and what other dependencies need to be there that weren't considered during design. You could have tests running in a build pipeline before you even get a machine for the TEST environment.

Tech is changing. Ways of getting things done need to change too. As a QA Lead, the Test Plan is be the snapshot of what was the best thinking at that time. A year from now your plan should be different. Your team's got different skills and they've grown. And you, QA Lead, get to serve your team by getting it what it needs.

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  • A great answer but the term 'test plan' usually refers to a specific plan for a test of a specific feature. What you have described here has great detail but seems more suited to describing test planning at a much higher, architectural level Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 14:39
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    +1 for the perspective of test plan as snapshot of thinking at that time. Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 23:44
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Strategy is vision, plan is its implementation.

I think in today's agile world, test plan does not have any relevance as testing is more integrated and dependent with dev activities as done in small sprints.

Although I think test strategy still has relevance as its more about guiding principles(in given context) than actual implementation like test plan.

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As a software qa company, benefits of test plan to QA Lead is with respect to the overall processes those are being followed for the application along with the high level testing details and scope of testing in the application as well. Moreover, in case any new engineer joins in the team, than he/she can refer to the document and have a high level idea of what application is, what tools and languages are used, testing coverage, scope for future etc.

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A Test Plan is a crucial document in software testing that outlines the approach, objectives, scope, and resources required for testing a software application. As a Software QA Company, the QA Lead can derive several benefits from a well-structured Test Plan in terms of optimizing processes and ensuring effective testing.

Here's how a QA Lead benefits from a Test Plan:

Clear Guidelines: A Test Plan provides clear guidelines and directions for the testing team, ensuring that everyone understands the testing objectives, scope, and tasks. This clarity helps in aligning efforts and reduces confusion among team members.

Scope Definition: The Test Plan defines the scope of testing, including what features or functionalities are in-scope and out-of-scope. This helps the QA Lead manage client or stakeholder expectations and prevents scope creep, ensuring that testing efforts remain focused.

Resource Allocation: The Test Plan outlines the resources needed for testing, including personnel, hardware, software, and tools. This allows the QA Lead to allocate resources effectively, ensuring that the testing team has everything they need to carry out their tasks efficiently.

Risk Assessment: A well-prepared Test Plan includes a risk assessment section, which identifies potential risks and their impact on the testing process. The QA Lead can use this information to prioritize testing efforts, allocate time for risk mitigation strategies, and communicate these risks to stakeholders.

Test Strategy: The Test Plan outlines the overall testing strategy, including the types of testing (e.g., functional, performance, security) to be performed. This helps the QA Lead design appropriate testing approaches, select suitable testing methodologies, and coordinate different testing activities.

Test Coverage: The Test Plan defines the coverage criteria for testing, indicating what aspects of the application will be tested. This allows the QA Lead to ensure comprehensive testing and identify any gaps in coverage that need to be addressed.

Test Schedule: The Test Plan includes a timeline or schedule for testing activities. The QA Lead can use this schedule to track progress, ensure that testing milestones are met, and manage the testing process efficiently.

Communication: A well-documented Test Plan serves as a communication tool for the testing team, developers, project managers, and stakeholders. It outlines the testing approach and expectations, facilitating smooth communication and collaboration among all parties involved.

Quality Control: The Test Plan defines the criteria for evaluating the quality of the software. This allows the QA Lead to establish quality standards, monitor the testing process, and ensure that the final product meets the desired quality levels.

Basis for Reporting: The Test Plan provides a baseline for reporting testing progress and results. The QA Lead can use this document to generate meaningful reports, track defects, and provide updates to project stakeholders.

Continuous Improvement: By reviewing and updating the Test Plan based on lessons learned from previous projects, the QA Lead can promote continuous improvement in the testing process. This helps refine testing strategies, optimize resource allocation, and enhance overall testing efficiency.

In essence, a Test Plan serves as a roadmap for the entire testing process, and as a Software QA Company, the QA Lead can leverage it to streamline processes, allocate resources effectively, and ensure that testing efforts are aligned with project goals and quality standards.

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