A test plan documents the strategy that will be used to verify and ensure that a product or system meets its design specifications and other requirements. A test plan is usually prepared by or with significant input from test engineers.
Depending on the product and the responsibility of the organization to which the test plan applies, a test plan may include a strategy for one or more of the following:
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Design Verification or Compliance test – to be performed during the development or approval stages of the product, typically on a small sample of units.
Manufacturing or Production test – to be performed during preparation or assembly of the product in an ongoing manner for purposes of performance verification and quality control.
Acceptance or Commissioning test – to be performed at the time of delivery or installation of the product.
Service and Repair test – to be performed as required over the service life of the product.
Regression test – to be performed on an existing operational product, to verify that existing functionality was not negatively affected when other aspects of the environment were changed (e.g., upgrading the platform on which an existing application runs).
A complex system may have a high level test plan to address the overall requirements and supporting test plans to address the design details of subsystems and components.
Test plan document formats can be as varied as the products and organizations to which they apply. There are three major elements that should be described in the test plan: Test Coverage, Test Methods, and Test Responsibilities. These are also used in a formal test strategy.
Test coverage in the test plan states what requirements will be verified during what stages of the product life. Test coverage is derived from design specifications and other requirements, such as safety standards or regulatory codes, where each requirement or specification of the design ideally will have one or more corresponding means of verification.