How to create a test plan for software testing: components, types, and template

Nadezhda Yushkevich
Updated on
Jun 21, 2024
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We have already explored how to create a test strategy and a software testing checklist. Today, we delve into all the details about the test plan. What is the role of this document? How do we create a test plan? What are the key components of a test plan? Discover more in the article.

Test plan: definition and details

A test plan is a document that outlines the approach, scope, resources, and schedule for testing a software application or system. It serves as a roadmap for the testing process, detailing test objectives, and methodologies to be employed during testing. Additionally, a test plan defines the roles and responsibilities of the testing team, identifies the test environment and tools needed, and outlines the criteria for test execution, evaluation, and reporting. Overall, a test plan ensures that testing activities are organized, structured, and aligned with project requirements and objectives.

The goals of a test plan include outlining the testing scope, approach, and necessary resources. It aims to establish clear test objectives and deliverables, allocate test tasks and responsibilities, specify the test environment and configuration, and define the test schedule to ensure efficient and effective testing. Additionally, a comprehensive test plan fosters collaboration among team members and promotes transparent communication throughout the testing process, facilitating project completion and consistency.

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Test plan components

The components of a test plan typically include:

  • Introduction that provides an overview of the purpose, objectives, and scope of the test plan.
  • Testing objectives that clearly define the goals and objectives of the testing effort, outlining what needs to be tested and why.
  • Testing scope that specifies the boundaries and extent of the testing, including what features or functionalities will be tested and what will be excluded.
  • Testing approach that describes the overall strategy and methodologies that will be used for testing, such as manual testing, automated testing, or a combination of both.
  • Testing environment that identifies the hardware, software, tools, and infrastructure required for testing, including any specific configurations or dependencies.
  • Testing schedule that outlines the timeline and milestones for the testing activities, including start and end dates, test execution phases, and key deliverables.
  • Testing deliverables: lists the documents, reports, and artifacts that will be produced during testing, such as test cases, test scripts, defect reports, and test summary reports.
  • Roles and responsibilities that define the roles and responsibilities of the testing team members, including testers, test leads, developers, and stakeholders.
  • Risks and assumptions that identify potential risks, assumptions, and constraints that may impact the testing process and outline mitigation strategies.
  • Approvals and sign-offs that specify the process for obtaining approvals and sign-offs from stakeholders, ensuring that the test plan is reviewed and accepted before testing begins.
  • Appendices that include any additional information or supporting documentation relevant to the test plan, such as glossaries, references, or templates.

Three types of a test plan

One of the key aspects of any testing plan type is defining the scope of the testing effort. This involves clearly delineating what will be tested, what will not be tested, and any constraints or assumptions that apply. By establishing the scope upfront, the testing plan helps to ensure that the testing activities remain focused and targeted, thereby maximizing efficiency and effectiveness.

Another component of any type of testing plan is the testing approach. This section describes the overall strategy and methodologies that will be employed for testing. It outlines the testing techniques, processes, and tools that will be used to achieve the testing objectives. By documenting the testing approach, the testing plan provides a common understanding of how testing will be conducted and ensures consistency across the testing team.

Any type of testing type also addresses the logistics of testing, including the test environment, schedule, and resource allocation. It identifies the hardware, software, tools, and infrastructure required for testing and specifies the setup, configurations, and dependencies necessary to conduct testing effectively. Additionally, the testing plan outlines the timeline and milestones for the testing activities, ensuring that testing progresses in a timely manner and aligns with project deadlines.

Master test plan (also known as System test plan)

The master test plan is a document that outlines the overarching testing strategy and approach for a project or product. It acts as a guiding framework, providing a roadmap for all testing activities throughout the project lifecycle. The primary objective of the MTP is to ensure that the testing process is well-organized, structured, and aligned with the project's goals and objectives.

Phase test plan

The phase test plan is a specialized document tailored to address a specific phase within the broader testing strategy of a project or product. Unlike comprehensive test plans that encompass the entire testing lifecycle, the PTP focuses on the testing activities associated with a particular phase, such as unit testing, integration testing, or user acceptance testing.

Specific test plan

The specific test plan is a specialized document designed for various testing categories, such as performance, security, and load testing, with a specific focus on the non-functional aspects of the system or application under test. Unlike general test plans that encompass all testing activities, the STP concentrates solely on evaluating the system's performance, security, or other non-functional attributes.

How to create a test plan

Determining the ideal length of a test plan is a common concern when preparing to create one for a software project. However, there is no definitive answer to this query. Extensive and intricate applications demand comprehensive testing details, potentially resulting in lengthy documentation. Nevertheless, lengthy documents can be daunting to review, leading to skimming or overlooking crucial information. A shorter length increases the likelihood of thorough review and comprehension.

Now, see our guide on how to create a test plan. To download the template, follow this link.

Step #0. Synchronize with testing strategy

A test strategy is an organizational-level document that outlines how testing will be approached and accomplished within the organization. It describes factors such as scope, formats, processes, tools, and reporting. Therefore, before starting to create a test plan, explore your organization's testing strategy and base your test plan on it. This will help you to draft your test plan quickly. With this foundation, you will only need to detail and clarify certain points in the next steps.

In this step, identify the testing types you will need as well as what will be tested manually and what should be automated. Determine the scope of automated tests. For instance, usually, smoke, exploratory, and usability tests are executed manually; unit, regression, and integration tests are run under automation.

Next, it’s important to pay attention to risks that may occur during testing. So document them before creating a test plan. A list of possible risks includes:

  • Disruption of deadlines
  • Lack of budget
  • Changes in the business environment
  • Changes in requirements

Additionally, engaging with the testing strategy involves clarifying your future test logistics. Test logistics cover the who, what, where, when, and how of testing. It ensures all necessary human and system resources are available. For instance, identifying available testers and support personnel is crucial. Additionally, planning for alternative resources or incorporating buffer time can help ensure project completion.

A testing strategy also includes test criteria. Test criteria set the standard for all testing activities, encompassing suspension criteria, which determine when tests should be halted, and exit criteria, which define the end of a test phase. For example, to proceed to the next phase, a predetermined percentage of critical test cases must pass, ensuring readiness for customer release. Pay attention to this section to set test criteria for your test plan.

Step #1. Define the release scope

Before drafting a comprehensive test plan, conduct a thorough analysis of the product. This includes gaining a deep understanding of the product's functionalities, operations, and the intended user base. Such analysis enables the identification of critical areas requiring testing and the most suitable testing approaches. With a clear comprehension of the product, potential problem areas can be pinpointed. This information facilitates the development of a well-structured testing plan aimed at ensuring the product's quality and reliability.

Step #2. Schedule timelines

Release deadlines are important for determining testing timelines and routines. Here are some guidelines to assist you in setting these deadlines:

  • Collaborate with project stakeholders to gain insight into the current release timeline.
  • Analyze past release schedules to gauge historical patterns and trends.
  • Consider external factors: determine if the release needs to align with external events or conferences, and incorporate these variables into your release date estimation.
  • Account for development timelines: understand the development team's schedule for completing tasks, enabling you to adjust the testing schedule accordingly.
  • Incorporate buffer time: unexpected delays are common, so allocate additional time for unforeseen events to ensure adherence to your plan.
  • Regularly review and update the schedule to verify that the testing timetable remains achievable.

Step #3. Define test objectives

A test objective serves as the purpose behind designing and executing a test, ultimately guiding and defining the scope of testing activities. General test objectives encompass tasks such as identifying and reporting defects, testing new features, and achieving a certain level of test coverage. Specific types of testing entail distinct objectives:

  • Functional testing aims to ensure software functionality, validating user workflows, data processing, and input/output parameters.
  • Performance testing assesses software efficiency and load handling capacity, examining reaction time, throughput, and scalability.
  • Security testing focuses on uncovering program security flaws, verifying authentication, authorization features, and identifying potential threats.
  • Usability testing concentrates on user experience and ease of use, validating accessibility, user flow, and addressing user-related issues.

To measure testing effectiveness, various metrics are employed to assess release quality, testing progress, and overall product quality. These metrics offer visibility into the testing process and aid in decision-making regarding release readiness. Common metric formulas include:

  • Defect Density: Defect count divided by the size of the release (lines of code).
  • Test Coverage: Percentage of requirements mapped to test cases relative to total requirements.
  • Defect Detection Efficiency: Percentage of defects detected during a phase relative to the total number of defects.
  • Time to Market: Duration from idea conception to product launch.

Step #4. Determine test deliverables

Test deliverables are the outcomes of testing that serve to monitor testing progress. These deliverables should align with the project's and client's requirements, be identified early in the process for inclusion in the test plan, and be scheduled accordingly. Various test deliverables are relevant at different stages of the software development lifecycle. Here are key deliverables to consider before, during, and after testing.

Before testing:

Test plan document with the scope, objectives, and approach of the testing effort.

Test suite with test cases detailing how to execute tests, including input data, expected outcomes, and pass/fail criteria.

Test design and environment specifications with the hardware and software configurations for testing.

During testing:

Test logs with records of the results of each test case, including any issues encountered and their resolutions.

Defect report with the lists of testing issues categorized by severity, priority, and reproducibility.

Test data with data selected or created to meet the execution preconditions and input content required for test case execution.

Test summary report with an overview of the number of tests executed, passed, failed, and any open defects.

After testing:

Test completion report with summary of the testing scope, product quality, and lessons learned.

User acceptance test report with any issues encountered during user acceptance testing.

Release notes with the detailed content of the release, including new features, enhancements, and fixes.

Zebrunner Test Case Management offers test plan functionality. With this feature, you can simplify your work with test cases by organizing them into test plans. You can gather tests into test runs, configure settings such as OS and browser, execute them, and view statistics on the results.

Step #5. Plan test environment and test data

Preparing the test environment is crucial for ensuring accurate and effective testing. This environment encompasses hardware, software, and network configurations tailored for software testing. Follow these steps to establish the test environment:

  • Determine hardware and software requirements. Choose the devices and software needed for testing, including operating systems, browsers, databases, and testing tools.
  • Install required software. Once hardware and software requirements are identified, install the necessary tools in the test environment. This may involve setting up a separate server to host the application and installing database management systems or other essential tools.
  • Configure the network. Ensure consistency in firewall protocols, IP addresses, DNS settings, and other network configurations between the test and production environments.
  • Generate test data. Prepare test materials for application testing. Test data can be manually created using production environment data, retrieved from existing production environments and databases, or generated using automated Data Generation Tools.
  • Access builds. Ensure testers have access to the builds they will be testing. This may involve setting up a file-sharing or version control system to provide testers with the latest builds.
  • Verify the test environment. Once set up, validate that the test environment meets all requirements and specifications.


A test plan is a document that describes the approach, scope, resources, and schedule for testing a software application or system. It serves as the roadmap for the testing process. Modern test case management tools provide an opportunity to create a test plan, allowing testers to delegate a part of routine work to the tool, which simplifies the process significantly. However, a testing plan as a document is still needed due to the necessity to understand how the testing process will proceed.

About the author

Nadezhda Yushkevich

Content Writer and Tech Journalist

With 11 years of work experience in journalism, media management, PR, and content marketing, she has specialized in IT and startup areas for the last five years. Interested in practices, trends, and approaches in the field of quality assurance.