Why You Need Test Planning

on Wednesday, 18 May 2016. Posted in Healthcare Deployment, Project Management

Why You Need Test Planning for Every Project - No Matter the Size


Kathy Drake

Implementation Specialist and Test Lead

goPMO, Inc.

Test planning is how a team makes sure requirements have been met in a satisfactory manner for software, products, and systems.  In addition to verifying what the project team delivered is indeed what was expected, test planning is also used to ensure the quality of the end objective is at a level acceptable to stakeholders. 

Too often test planning doesn’t have a primary focus in the project, and will consist of a single line in the plan for ‘testing’.  The risk in not treating test planning as a key component of the project critical path becomes apparent when we look closely at the two questions test planning addresses:

  • Did we deliver what we are suppose to?
  • Is what we delivered good enough?

Did we deliver what we are suppose to?

When the build (i.e., design and development) is complete there can be a rush to move directly to production or to market without looking closely at this question, which can lead to many assumptions about the end result.  Test planning allows the team to minimize assumptions and risk by thinking strategically about how to address this question.  Teams that review test plans with a critical eye have the opportunity to weigh in on the test coverage, approach, the test levels, testing priorities, as well as the resources and schedule.  Experienced test plan reviewers will expect to see traceability to ensure functional and non-functional requirements and designs are with the test scope.

Is what we delivered good enough?

Test planning ensures expected quality goals are met, and that the end objective is a ‘good’ product (with ‘good’ being defined by the stakeholders).  Testing verifies requirements have been met, but testing to a defined quality ensures the product will meet stakeholder and customer satisfaction thresholds.  For example, a team tasked with building a car can deliver a vehicle that moves from point A to point B, but the quality defined for the product determines whether the car breaks down when driven for the first time.  Test planning includes consideration for quality objectives that stakeholders and potential customers value, which may include budget, speed-to-market, reliability, performance, efficiency, security, maintainability, usability, and more.

Since test planning brings teams and stakeholders together in agreement of the objective as well as the quality of the objective, it is important to remember these key points:

  • Test planning is so much more than ‘testing’.
  • Test planning is an important task on the project work plan.
  • Test planning reduces assumptions and risks about the end-product.
  • Test planning ensures acceptable quality thresholds.
  • Test planning brings teams and stakeholders to agreement for end product expectations.
  • Test planning involves the entire team, not just the testers.