The Importance of a Test Plan

Earlier in my career when I spent most of my time as a business end user of CRM software, I wondered why it was important to have a Test plan. Our project had a Project plan and we were already familiar with writing test cases so what was all the hype about documenting a Testing plan? I recall thinking; can’t we just stop wasting our time and just move into the Testing phase?


Many years later, I hear the same comments from my clients. Most business users often see the Test plan as just another document the IT department is requiring them to create. I understand their concerns and frustrations. What I have come to realize, is that usually the Test plans developed are lacking the information needed to make them a useful document.


A good Testing plan usually has the follows components:


• Defines the overall objectives and Testing approach for the project


• Lists the reviewers and signing approvers of the Testing plan


• Defines the business processes that will be tested


• List the Systems and/or Integrations that need to be tested


• Defines the number of groups of business requirements by key area to be tested


• Identifies the success criteria for entry and exit during each Testing phase


• Identifies the Testing environments that will be required for testing


• Describes the usage of Testing tools (if applicable)


• Delineates the Testing phases including the timeline and approach


• Establishes the resource roles and responsibilities during testing


• Records assumptions and identifies dependencies and risks


Without going into too much detail on each component, you can start to see that if a Testing plan contains all of the above parts, it becomes very clear to everyone on the team what it is going to take to get ready for testing and what it is going to take to get out of the Testing phase. Managers can start using the plan to balance resources. IT can ensure the environments are ready to go.


You know what happens when the team gets together to start the development of the Testing plan? It gets people thinking and talking. Business users and IT alike can agree that issues following an implementation are far more disruptive than spending the time to adequately test. The Test plan is the road map for the testing work that needs to be completed during the project life-cycle to ensure a successful implementation.


A well-developed Test plan gets your company to think about the requirements, to prepare for what is needed from a resource perspective and to lists the risks involved. It gets your team to communicate to ensure success!


I would be interested in hearing about your company’s process for developing Testing plans. Has it been well received by the business users? What challenges has it brought? What benefits have you seen?


Stay tuned for my next blog article on developing good Test cases.


Carrie Skuban has over 15 years of experience and is a Senior Manager with MidDel Consulting. MidDel Consulting is a System Integrator and Professional Services firm specializing in services supporting the business systems for Front, Back and Mid-Office. MidDel has been in business for over 16 years, and our consultants, on average, bring over 25 years of senior level energy industry knowledge to our projects. We have deep relationships with our clients, often working with them for more than a decade. For more information, email us or call 952-500-9275.