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Test process

Testing concepts, strategies, techniques, and measures need to be integrated into a defined and controlled process which is run by people. The test process supports testing activities and provides guidance to testing teams, from test planning to test output evaluation, in such a way as to provide justified assurance that the test objectives will be met cost-effectively.

Practical considerations

Attitudes/egoless programming

A very important component of successful testing is a collaborative attitude towards testing and quality assurance activities. Managers have a key role in fostering a generally favorable reception towards failure discovery during development and maintenance; for instance, by preventing a mindset of code ownership among programmers, so that they will not feel responsible for failures revealed by their code.

Test guides

The testing phases could be guided by various aims, for example: in risk-based testing, which uses the product risks to prioritize and focus the test strategy; or in scenario-based testing, in which test cases are defined based on specified software scenarios.

Test process management (ieee1074-97, ieee12207.0-96:s5.3.9)

Test activities conducted at different levels must be organized, together with people, tools, policies, and measurements, into a well-defined process which is an integral part of the life cycle. In IEEE/EIA Standard 12207.0, testing is not described as a stand-alone process, but principles for testing activities are included along with both the five primary life cycle processes and the supporting process. In IEEE Std 1074, testing is grouped with other evaluation activities as integral to the entire life cycle.

Test documentation and work products (ieee829-98)

Documentation is an integral part of the formalization of the test process. The IEEE Standard for Software Test Documentation (IEEE829-98) provides a good description of test documents and of their relationship with one another and with the testing process. Test documents may include, among others, Test Plan, Test Design Specification, Test Procedure Specification, Test Case Specification, Test Log, and Test Incident or Problem Report. The software under test is documented as the Test Item. Test documentation should be produced and continually updated, to the same level of quality as other types of documentation in software engineering.

Internal vs. independent test team

Formalization of the test process may involve formalizing the test team organization as well. The test team can be composed of internal members (that is, on the project team, involved or not in software construction), of external members, in the hope of bringing in an unbiased, independent perspective, or, finally, of both internal and external members. Considerations of costs, schedule, maturity levels of the involved organizations, and criticality of the application may determine the decision.

Cost/effort estimation and other process measures (ieee982.1-88)

Several measures related to the resources spent on testing, as well as to the relative fault-finding effectiveness of the various test phases, are used by managers to control and improve the test process. These test measures may cover such aspects as number of test cases specified, number of test cases executed, number of test cases passed, and number of test cases failed, among others.

Questions & Answers

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