Contrary to popular belief, Software Testing is not a just a single activity.
It consists of series of activities carried out methodologically to help certify your software product.
These activities (stages) constitute the Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC).
Diagram - Different stages in Software Test Life Cycle
Each of these stages have a definite Entry and Exit criteria; , Activities & Deliverables associated with it.
What is Entry and Exit Criteria?
Entry Criteria:Entry Criteria gives the prerequisite items that must be completed before testing can begin.
Exit Criteria: Exit Criteria defines the items that must be completed before testing can be concluded
You have Entry and Exit Criteria for all levels in the Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC)
In an Ideal world you will not enter the next stage until the exit criteria for the previous stage is met. But practically this is not always possible. So for this tutorial , we will focus of activities and deliverables for the different stages in STLC life cycle. Lets look into them in detail.
During this phase, test team studies the requirements from a testing point of view to identify the testable requirements.
The QA team may interact with various stakeholders (Client, Business Analyst, Technical Leads, System Architects etc) to understand the requirements in detail.
Requirements could be either Functional (defining what the software must do) or Non Functional (defining system performance /security availability )
.Automation feasibility for the given testing project is also done in this stage. Activities
- Identify types of tests to be performed.
- Gather details about testing priorities and focus.
- Prepare Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM).
- Identify test environment details where testing is supposed to be carried out.
- Automation feasibility analysis (if required).
- Automation feasibility report. (if applicable)
This phase is also called Test Strategy phase. Typically , in this stage, a Senior QA manager will determine effort and cost estimates for the project and would prepare and finalize the Test Plan. Activities
- Preparation of test plan/strategy document for various types of testing
- Test tool selection
- Test effort estimation
- Resource planning and determining roles and responsibilities.
- Training requirement
This phase involves creation, verification and rework of test cases & test scripts. Test data , is identified/created and is reviewed and then reworked as well. Activities
- Create test cases, automation scripts (if applicable)
- Review and baseline test cases and scripts
- Create test data (If Test Environment is available)
- Test cases/scripts
- Test data
Test environment decides the software and hardware conditions under which a work product is tested. Test environment set-up is one of the critical aspects of testing process and can be done in parallel with Test Case Development Stage. Test team may not be involved in this activity if the customer/development team provides the test environment in which case the test team is required to do a readiness check (smoke testing) of the given environment. Activities
- Understand the required architecture, environment set-up and prepare hardware and software requirement list for the Test Environment.
- Setup test Environment and test data
- Perform smoke test on the build
- Environment ready with test data set up
- Smoke Test Results.
During this phase test team will carry out the testing based on the test plans and the test cases prepared. Bugs will be reported back to the development team for correction and retesting will be performed. Activities
- Execute tests as per plan
- Document test results, and log defects for failed cases
- Map defects to test cases in RTM
- Retest the defect fixes
- Track the defects to closure
- Completed RTM with execution status
- Test cases updated with results
- Defect reports
Testing team will meet , discuss and analyze testing artifacts to identify strategies that have to be implemented in future, taking lessons from the current test cycle. The idea is to remove the process bottlenecks for future test cycles and share best practices for any similar projects in future. Activities
- Evaluate cycle completion criteria based on Time,Test coverage,Cost,Software,Critical Business Objectives , Quality
- Prepare test metrics based on the above parameters.
- Document the learning out of the project
- Prepare Test closure report
- Qualitative and quantitative reporting of quality of the work product to the customer.
- Test result analysis to find out the defect distribution by type and severity.
- Test Closure report
- Test metrics
Finally, summary of STLC Phases along with Entry and Exit Criteria
| Requirement Analysis || Requirements Document available (both functional and non functional) |
Acceptance criteria defined.
Application architectural document available.
| Analyse business functionality to know the business modules and module specific functionalities. |
Identify all transactions in the modules.
Identify all the user profiles.
Gather user interface/authentication, geographic spread requirements.
Identify types of tests to be performed.
Gather details about testing priorities and focus.
Prepare Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM).
Identify test environment details where testing is supposed to be carried out.
Automation feasibility analysis (if required).
| Signed off RTM |
Test automation feasibility report signed off by the client
| RTM |
Automation feasibility report (if applicable)
| Test Planning || Requirements Documents |
Requirement Traceability matrix.
Test automation feasibility document.
| Analyze various testing approaches available |
Finalize on the best suited approach
Preparation of test plan/strategy document for various types of testing
Test tool selection
Test effort estimation
Resource planning and determining roles and responsibilities.
| Approved test plan/strategy document. |
Effort estimation document signed off.
| Test plan/strategy document. |
Effort estimation document.
| Test case development || Requirements Documents |
RTM and test plan
Automation analysis report
| Create test cases, automation scripts (where applicable) |
Review and baseline test cases and scripts
Create test data
| Reviewed and signed test Cases/scripts |
Reviewed and signed test data
| Test cases/scripts |
| Test Environment setup || System Design and architecture documents are available |
Environment set-up plan is available
| Understand the required architecture, environment set-up |
Prepare hardware and software requirement list
Finalize connectivity requirements
Prepare environment setup checklist
Setup test Environment and test data
Perform smoke test on the build
Accept/reject the build depending on smoke test result
| Environment setup is working as per the plan and checklist |
Test data setup is complete
Smoke test is successful
| Environment ready with test data set up |
Smoke Test Results.
| Test Execution || Baselined RTM, Test Plan , Test case/scripts are available |
Test environment is ready
Test data set up is done
Unit/Integration test report for the build to be tested is available
| Execute tests as per plan |
Document test results, and log defects for failed cases
Update test plans/test cases, if necessary
Map defects to test cases in RTM
Retest the defect fixes
Regression testing of application
Track the defects to closure
| All tests planned are executed |
Defects logged and tracked to closure
| Completed RTM with execution status |
Test cases updated with results
| Test Cycle closure || Testing has been completed |
Test results are available
Defect logs are available
| Evaluate cycle completion criteria based on - Time, Test coverage , Cost , Software Quality , Critical Business Objectives |
Prepare test metrics based on the above parameters.
Document the learning out of the project
Prepare Test closure report
Qualitative and quantitative reporting of quality of the work product to the customer.
Test result analysis to find out the defect distribution by type and severity
| Test Closure report signed off by client || Test Closure report |