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What Is a Software Testing Life Cycle

April 17, 2019
#SoftwareDevelopment #QA

The software testing life cycle is a cornerstone of any software project. Let’s take a closer look at how and why it is performed.

The process of software development isn’t complete without testing. You can be the most talented, knowledgeable, and experienced coder and you would still need quality assurance. It helps you make sure the program runs exactly like intended and eliminate all bugs and errors.

Depending on your software development life cycle (SDLC) model, it happens at different stages. For example, the waterfall model has only one testing stage after the code is written while more Agile models have them throughout the whole development process.

If you ever wondered why any software product release is sometimes postponed testing is the reason in the vast majority of cases. Long periods of debugging and error correction for the program often practically negate the benefits of iterative development. However, they result in a well-functioning end product.

The software testing life cycle is a crucial part of Digital Skynet’s SDLC. The QA is always synchronized with the development as a whole and is accounted for in the time estimates. Testing design and development can be as challenging and time-consuming as building a software product itself. If you do not perform thorough tests during the first software releases, many problems will be found in the later stages of the process.

As a standard practice, a typical software testing life cycle includes the six following phases:

  • Requirement Analysis
  • Test Planning
  • Test Case Development
  • Environment Setup
  • Test Execution
  • Test Cycle Closure

Now, let’s look at each STLC stage in more detail.


Requirement Analysis


The first stage defines the rest of the software testing process. A clear understanding of the requirements is essential. Uncertain goals can snowball into problems in the later stages of testing, of development as a whole and even in general product usage after the release.
During this phase, the QA-team analyzes the requirements of the client. This phase helps to determine the scope of testing. The QA-team can communicate with the client if some requirements are not testable or are incorrect.

Test Planning


Based on the requirement analysis, the QA-team then proceeds to plan out the structure of the software testing process. This is similar to the estimation stage of SDLC in the way that it establishes the roadmap for the following work. The testing strategy is also approved during this stage.
The following list illustrates the steps that need to be completed at this stage. Notable that it’s not uncommon for companies to modify it according to their workflow. In general, the testing plan includes the following:

  • Definition of test requirements
  • Risk assessment
  • Definition of resources
  • Creating schedules/sequences
  • Developing a test plan

Test Case Development


When the test plan is ready, the QA-team initiates the development of test case scenarios. They also prepare test automation scripts, if required. A test case includes specific input, preconditions, a set of execution steps and the expected result. The goal of a test case is to find possible bugs and defects and covers most of the usage scenarios of the system.
The more test cases there are, the more thorough and effective the STLC will be. After writing down all the scenarios the QA-team approves them and prepares for the next step. Naturally, if the QA-engineer is familiar with the system, the cases are also more extensive and in-depth.

Environment Setup


The test environment consists of elements that support test execution with configured software, hardware, and the network. The configuration must mimic the production environment in order to uncover any environment/configuration related issues. To do that you need to analyze and prepare the environment and a list of software and hardware requirements for setup.
It’s also important to test the behavior of the program on different platforms. This is especially relevant if the project is supposed to be cross-platform. The way the project behaves on desktop as compared to mobile or on a different OS, for example, should be equally bug-free. Consider which legacy platforms will your project support. You must account for all potential usage conditions of your product. That is why a proper testing environment should consist of just a copy of the production environment.
What is notable is that this stage can be done in parallel with the test case development since it doesn’t involve the QA-team. It is the responsibility of the developers to set up a proper environment with the guidance of project managers and sometimes even clients themselves.


Test Execution


This is a process of running the pre-approved test case scenarios and comparing the expected results with the actual ones.

The process of test execution often includes the following elements:

  • System integration testing — involves testing all software elements as a complete system. It is the prerequisite of user acceptance testing;
  • User acceptance testing — checks whether or not the requirements of the client are met and the project behaves like intended;
  • Bug reporting — logging and documenting the detail of all encountered bugs for future reference and fixing;
  • Defect management — while bugs are the result of errors in the code, defects are the deviations from requirements and they also should be logged. Defects can happen even if there are no errors in the code itself. Sometimes they are not even considered to be defects by some team members and you need to establish where they should be fixed or not;
  • Re-testing — after the bugs are fixed and the defects are eliminated there needs to be a test to make sure the errors were corrected and the program is functional;
  • Regression testing — this type of testing is done whenever the program is changed. It covers parts of the code that were successfully tested before to make sure they still operate as intended.

The entry criteria of this phase are the completion of the test plan and the test case development phase with the environment ready. The exit criteria require the successful validation of all test cases. All bugs should be fixed or deferred, and the test case execution and bug summary report should be ready. These reports can help developers avoid similar bugs in the future.


Test Cycle Closure


Test cycle closure is the analysis of all the received results. It involves the creation of a document that gives a summary of all the tests conducted during the entire software development life cycle. It also gives a detailed analysis of all the bugs removed and errors found.

At the end of this phase, the testing is formally concluded. The QA-team then provides a detailed analysis in the described document and the project manager presents these test metrics in a report to the client. After that, the job of the QA-team is either done or another cycle of software testing begins for the next iteration of the project.

Rounding Things Up


As you can see, the software testing life cycle is a vital part of any software development project. Now that you have an insight into how it’s done, you understand exactly what you are paying the QA-team to do. Depending on the type of your project, a bug-free software can not only result in pleasant user experience but also establish a good reputation for your brand and even save money for your business. After all, it’s the job of the quality assurance team to ensure the top-notch quality of the end result.

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