A solid test plan is an enabler for a successful test trajectory.
But preparing a solid (master) test plan is not a piece of cake. Too often, resulting from various sets of review rounds, you end up with a corpulent document, which tries to cover and anticipate all possibilities and unexpected matters. But during the test project it becomes obvious that many did forget to review the plan and afterwards it does appear that many things did not turn out as well as planned.
At the Dutch Railways (NS) the test managers found a solution to that. In order to be able to positively contribute to performing their task, they needed a brief, easily accessible and clearly insightful document. They furthermore needed a plan which could be updated and edited as if it was a live document. Do not wait until the plan is completely finished, but discuss NOW what is important at this point in time. This means that you DISCUSS things with the stakeholders. And while doing that you can have a lot of benefits of the images, tables, overviews, etc. instead of dealing with endless chunks of formal text.
Powerpoint offers possibilities for this. Ever since test plans are registered in Powerpoint format these same test plans have become a practical guide for test managers and all others involved, instead of the proverbial pain the neck it used to be. Incidentally, in the case of specific test trajectories, the advantages of a ‘classical’ MTP still remain as such, so sometimes test managers still opt to write a more classical test plan.
The relevant segments as the TMap Suite describes are included within the NS-Powerpoint test plan. Clear and insightful diagrams, figures, images and lists provide the reader with quick insight. And at a later stage this structure also helps in finding and retrieving relevant segments much faster.
Segments which most certainly would be covered:
- Product risk matrix including the main focus areas
- Overview of the relevant test levels and their scope
- Test units and overview of the test basis
- Overview of the test object and the test environments
- Testware management
An example of an NS Powerpoint test plan can, as of now, be seen on TMap.net. Since NS is a Netherlands company the example is in the Dutch language.
Bart Broekman, one of the designers of the Powerpoint test plan says: “I took this plan along each and every day so I would have the possibility, while in conversation with each stakeholder, to explain and adjust things right then and there”.
Paul Custers, domain manager with the Test Competence Center adds to this: “We notice that our stakeholders truly appreciate the simplicity of the Powerpoint MTP, and this really benefits communication!”
Rik Marselis is a management consultant in testing for Sogeti