Detailed Test Planning

At the heart of your test project is your Test Strategy, the Preparation Plan to deliver that strategy, and the resulting Test Plan. In line with PMI PMBOK principles this can consist of multiple plans (approaches) and baselines that, together, form the overall strategic view and detailed planning for your test project. We usually start with a plan for the preparation of your test phase(s) (well, that’s not strictly true, you’ll usually start with the test charter – the high level detail of what you are responsible for – and a “plan for a plan” – who will be preparing your plan, what tools they will use, etc). The documents within the Strategy and the detail and method of delivery will be different for each project and each and will depend mainly on the audience of your plan – drawing up a detailed 80-page document that nobody will read will be a waste of time, both yours and your readers, but equally doing a few powerpoint slides for a 12-month multi-test-phase campaign will make your stakeholders very nervous. Essentially you will need to identify your stakeholders and their communication needs and tailor the communication of your Strategy and Plans to their requirements. The delivery of the detailed strategy could be in a Word document, Powerpoint presentation, Mindmap, or any other method, but it’s also probable that you will need to create more than one version to match your stakeholder communication strategy; for example, a detailed document for your main project sponsors and management, and separate high-level presentations for business managers or third parties that focus on their specific involvement.

For the purposes of this walkthrough, though, we’ll assume that we’re tasked with creating a detailed Test Strategy, Planning and Preparation Plan, and Test Plan for a generic UAT test phase of a large multi-national SAP implementation project, and given the focus of this site as “test management as a sub-project” we will be focusing on the Planning and Preparation Plan and using Microsoft Project as our planning tool. It’s important to note the difference between the Test Strategy, the Planning and Preparation Plan, and the Test Plan:

  • The Test Strategy comprises the various strategies and approaches to testing within the context of your project. It includes the test charter (what you are responsible for and the key headline milestones), and the strategies how you will test – what the high-level scope is and isn’t, where you will source testers from, where the testing will take place, how the testing will be completed, etc
  • The Planning and Preparation Plan is the detailed plan that sets out the milestones, deliverables, and detailed activities required to achieve the Test Strategy and to plan and prepare for test execution.
  • Whereas the strategy tells you how the test deliverables will be gained, and the preparation plan details the activities and timeline required to gain those deliverables, the Test Plan includes the deliverable results of the combined Strategy and the Preparation Plan – the detailed test execution schedule (including identified testers), the test client, the support team, the detailed scope

To give an example to highlight the difference, let’s look at the test client (the SAP system that we will be performing the testing in). The Test Strategy might say “The test client will be set up by the Basis team as a copy of the golden Data client”; the Preparation Plan will detail out all of the activities, sequencing, and dates required in order for the client to be prepared and delivered for testing; the Test Plan will combine those outputs and say “EQ0-100 (SID-client) will be the primary ECC test client and is planned to be available for smoke testing on 01/10/2016”.

The logical flow for the creation of the preparation plan follows the PMI knowledge areas, and we’ve roughly separated the plan into Scope, Time, HR, Communications, and Procurement. In PMI terminology this might result in the Project Schedule; however, using the term “schedule” for the planning and preparation phase tends to confuse people, who generally think of the test schedule as the document(s) that drive the flow of testing during the test execution phase. Think of these as two separate detailed plans; one for Planning and Preparation, and the other for Execution. This part of the site focuses on the former.

In practice the knowledge areas are not a waterfall sequence; throughout the process of developing and maintaining the plan we will be adding, deleting and modifying all elements of the plan at varying times. For the initial cut of the plan it is sometimes easier to identify as many elements of one group as possible before moving on to the next, but we won’t restrict ourselves to identifying all deliverables before breaking them down into tasks and activities, or defining all activities before starting on sequencing or duration.

As this is a “template” plan we’re really only looking at two of the PMBOK processes, Create WBS and Define Activities. For each WBS element I’ve split out the activities separately into logical groups:

  1. Create Initial WBS
  2. Define Activities – Preparation Plan
  3. Define Activities – Test Strategy
  4. Define Activities – Scenarios, Checklists, and Charters
  5. Define Activities – Data
  6. Define Activities – Execution Schedule
  7. Define Activities – Human Resources
  8. Define Activities – Communication
  9. Define Activities – Procurement
  10. Define Activities – Readiness
  11. Define Activities – Test Execution
  12. Define Activities – Close Project or Phase


Next Page - Create Initial WBS