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Stages of a complete test cycle

People who are involved in the business of software testing know many parts of the testing process, but there are few people who have covered all the stages involved from the time of getting the project requirements, to the last stages of testing. Here is a timeline of the steps involved in this process:

• Requirements Phase: Get the requirements, along with the functional design, the internal design specifications
• Resourcing estimation: Obtain budget and schedule requirements
• Get into details of the project-related personnel and their responsibilities and the reporting requirements
• Work out the required processes (such as release processes, change processes, etc.). Defining such processes can typically take a lot of time.
• Identify application’s higher-risk aspects, set priorities, and determine scope and limitations of tests
• Test methods: This is the time to plan and determine test approaches and methods – unit, integration, functional, system, load, usability tests, etc., the whole breakup of the types of tests to be done
• Determine test environment requirements (hardware, software, communications, etc.). These are critical to determine because the testing success depends on getting a good approximation of the test environment
• Determine testware requirements (record/playback tools, coverage analyzers, test tracking, problem/bug tracking, etc.). In many cases, a complete coverage of these tools is not done.
• Determine test input data requirements. This can be a fairly intensive task, and needs to be thought through carefully.
• People assignment: This is stage where for the project, task identification, those responsible for tasks, and labor requirements all need to be calculated.
• Find out schedule estimates, timelines, milestones. Absolutely critical, since these determine the overall testing schedule along with resource needs.
• Determine input equivalence classes, boundary value analyses, error classes
• Prepare test plan document and have needed reviews/approvals. A test plan document encapsulates the entire testing proposal and needs to be properly reviewed for completeness.
• Once the test plan is done and accepted, the next step is to write test cases
• Have needed reviews/inspections/approvals of test cases. This may include reviews by the development team as well.
• Prepare test environment and testware, obtain needed user manuals/reference documents/configuration guides/installation guides, set up test tracking processes, set up logging and archiving processes, set up or obtain test input data
• Obtain and install software releases. If a daily build is available, the smoke testing regime for build acceptance needs to be brought in.
• Perform tests. The actual phase where you start to see the results of all the previous efforts.
• Evaluate and report results
• Track problems/bugs and fixes. This phase can take up a substantial portion of the overall project time.
• Retest as needed, including regression testing
• Maintain and update test plans, test cases, test environment, and testware through life cycle

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