As a general rule of thumb you will need about six months of planning and preparation time before test execution starts, particularly if your team needs to write test scripts and scenarios from scratch, but this is dependant on the size of the implementation and the prework required. Ideally a test manager would join the implementation during Blueprint phase so s/he can join the functional and development workstreams on their site visits and design workshops; this is important for several reasons:
- understanding business processes as they are being designed can help identify core test scenarios
- meeting the key business process experts on their site helps to build rapport with the site teams that is required when requesting testers
- understanding business flows early helps to identify key external test requirements
Unfortunately though the test manager usually joins near the end of blueprint when the business process documentation is already near completion.
So what will you be doing for those six months of planning and preparation? The Test Management Plan provides outputs to many other processes, and those processes in turn provide inputs and confirmations to the test management plan, so the majority of this time will be spent Directing and Managing the Test Project Work by managing and updating the plan itself and associated inputs/outputs and ensuring that tasks and deliverables are assigned and completed. Key deliverables into and out of the management plan can be split between:
- Planning: inclusion of baselined test schedule milestones as per the key anchor project management plan, and key milestones from other plans, such as WRICEF deliverables from the development team, data load plans to meet test phases, environment setup or client copy, security/authorisation deliverables; the overall Master Test Strategy and/or phase Test Plan detailing the scope of testing (including scope exclusions), test environment and data setup, test approach/methodology and deliverables, high level list of tasks and corresponding responsibility matrix, test tools for capturing test results and defects, reporting, test team resourcing, testing training requirements, risk and issues assessment, definitions used, considerations of other parallel projects, and any other information relevant to the test project.
- Preparation: Execution of the detailed test project plan to achieve the test milestones:
- test scripts and scenarios devised and written
- testers identified and onboarded, with test strategy communicated to them
- Basis, data and security teams aligned for environment readiness
- test data identified and requirements communicated to the test and data teams
- external parties (3PLs, EDI customers/middleware, banks) aligned with test dates and prepared
- training and test execution support for testers arranged
- logistics and procurement for testers (travel & accommodation, test lab, workstations, site security) arranged
- communication plan and reporting packs prepared, and communications sent regularly to stakeholders to ensure progress on tasks
- identification of risks and issues and updating the corresponding register
- setup of test tool, including defect process management, and training of testers in tool use where necessary
All of the planning and preparation leads directly into the test execution phase, and from there into the test phase closure report and post-test execution activities.