What Is a Release Test Plan?

First of all, what is release testing? Release testing refers to a number of different coding methods and test strategies that provide assurance to teams that a software release candidate is eligible for users. Its primary goal is to identify and eradicate faults and problems in a software release so that it may be distributed to consumers.

A release test plan refers to a document that specifies the testing method, the objectives, the resources that are required, timetable, and success factors for a certain software update or piece of software. The primary purpose of a release test plan is to identify faults, mistakes, and any other gaps that may cause the product to behave incorrectly or give a poor user experience. In layman’s words, a release test strategy ensures that your product does what it’s intended to do and does it when it’s supposed to do it.

Key Components of a Test Plan

When drafting a test plan, please take note of the following key components that should be included:

Introduction. This element of the test plan should provide an overview of the entire document. The sub-components of the introduction include the scope of testing (which talks about the objectives of the testing project), the milestones, and the deliverables.Resources. This part should list all the physical and non-physical resources that will be used throughout the testing phase, such as the hardware requirements, the environmental details for the test, the testing tools that need to be used, the team members for the test along with their responsibilities, and the skillset or training that is required.Test Strategy. This part of the test plan defines the testing strategy that is to be followed throughout the test. This part also includes the different types of testing that will be conducted, the entry and exit criteria of the testing, the suspension and resumption criteria, and the system acceptance criteria.Test Planning. This section of the test plan lists the three parts of the test planning, which is the test schedule (which documents the detailed test plan along with a work breakdown structure), the test design (which is used to document the procedure for preparing test cases along with explaining its various fields), and the test execution (which details the process that will be followed for testing)Bug Tracking Process. This section outlines the procedure for recording issues discovered throughout multiple testing cycles, as well as the methodology for following these bugs to resolution. This section would also include information about the bug tracking tools utilized for defect logging and tracking, the bug reporting procedure and details, and the bug life-cycle.NFR Testing. This section defines the plans for the non-functional testing phase, the subsequent tools that need to be used, and the overall goals for the performance testing.Risk ManagementThis section of the test plan documents the risks that come with the testing phase and their subsequent mitigation plans. It is critical that priority and the impact to the risks documented must be properly assigned.Reporting and Communication Plan. This section provides the testing phase’s reporting and communication plan. When composing this part, it is critical to identify essential contact persons from both on-site and off-shore teams, as well as the personnel that serves as client representatives.Measurement Plan. This section contains a list of the indicators which will be used to monitor the progress of the testing phase. In addition, an assessment of whether or not the objectives of this phase have been accomplished is given.Assumptions and Dependencies. In this element of the test plan, the assumptions and dependencies that are associated with conducting this phase of the test plan as well as the risks that may exist that can impact any assumptions are listed here.Appendix. The final important element of the test plan, this section includes reference documents and sample templates (if needed) as well as any expansions to any abbreviations that are present.

Different Methods/Types of Release Testing

Listed below are the different methods that can be employed during the release testing phase of a particular software release candidate:

Unit Testing. Unit tests are pieces of testing code that test new code by utilizing simulated data and circumstances designed to evaluate the majority of code routes. The purpose of unit testing is to check a minimal software unit and guarantee that all the important code paths function properly. Unit tests provide fast feedback to developers while they are building code, whether it is for bug testing or new feature testing.End-to-End Testing. An end-to-end test examines slices of the full system and it also refers to special testing code designed for testing a specific software feature that spans numerous levels of a software architecture throughout the usual software development process. In end-to-end testing, members of the development team produce specialized code and test scripts that put vast slices of the technology stack to the test. End-to-end test suites serve as the foundation of system testing. This type of release testing is more comprehensive than unit testing because it encompasses a portion of the complete technology stack utilized for development.Smoke Testing. In software terms, smoke testing entails ensuring that the release candidate is reliable and that all main components are operational. The testing team verifies that the user interface, the service layer, the databases, and any other main components of the software release candidate start and function properly during smoke testing. It is also known as beta testing or stability testing. Overall, the purpose of smoke testing is to guarantee that a release candidate is ready to be tested.Regression Testing. Regression testing is a form of release testing that examines any current functionality of the software release candidate to ensure that it continues to function as intended by users. As the software product grows, the testing team develops and evolves a collection of regression test cases and regression test scripts that are always executed throughout each release test. This is known as a regression test plan which is carried out throughout every release testing phase.Load Testing. Development teams and quality assurance engineers can replicate several concurrent users utilizing the system using various methodologies and tools. During this phase of testing, the development or DevOps team checks system records and other indicators for faults and exceptions. Load testing is frequently used in conjunction with performance testing, as the development and testing team watches system logs and other performance metrics.Acceptance Testing. Acceptance testing is considered to be a much more formal type of testing. It must be carried out anytime a new software version is supplied to a client for installation on their own computers. In a typical software-as-a-service architecture, the software development team does acceptance testing as part of the standard release testing routine, and no formal acceptance testing is required.Automated tests are pieces of code created expressly for the aim of testing a feature or repairing any issues that are found. Any software release should begin with testing even though the software is still being produced. As a result, even before a suitable software release candidate is produced, new features and bug patches should be evaluated to verify they function properly. The term “automated testing” refers to the unique testing code that runs every time the code standard is produced when new code is committed to the code baseline.

Steps Required to Create a Release Test Plan

Before any type of software ends up in the hands of the end-user or the general public, it must be tested rigorously a number of times. This is done to ensure that it does the things as intended and when it’s intended to do so. To make sure that this process is effective, a release test plan is needed. With that being said, here are the steps on how to make one:

  • 1. Analysis

    This is the first step that needs to be done when creating a test plan. But even before this step, vast understanding is recommended prior to creating this document and proceeding to this step. Ways to obtain a proper understanding of software before even testing it can include communicating with its respective designer/developer in order to understand how the software works, or by performing a thorough walkthrough of the product. Overall, an analysis of the product will give you an adequate context in further developing your test plan.

  • 2. Design

    After performing a thorough product analysis, this step then follows. The scope of your release testing should be determined by a variety of variables other than the product or feature itself. It can also include the test budget and timetable, as well as client requirements as a reference, etc. The most important aspects of your test plan are determining what to analyze and describing your test technique. Don’t try to speed through it. It is important to take the time to truly comprehend your goals and priorities, and then measure them against the testing resources you have available.

  • 3. Objectives and Criteria

    After putting emphasis on the design and scope in the previous step, this step will then follow. In this part of the procedure, You’ll have to recognize when the test is finished when you create each new test you’ll run. This includes setting the pass and fail standards for each individual exam, as well as some of the previously specified criteria such as exit and suspension criteria. To do this, you must first identify the specific system metrics that you are monitoring and then decide what success means on each one. Examples of metrics that can be looked at include the response time of the software, the load time of the software, the average amount of time it needs to accomplish a request, and the software release candidate’s memory utilization.

  • 4. Test Environment

    After establishing the objectives and the subsequent criteria of the test, now is the time to plan for the test environment. In this step, you need to keep in mind that this is the time when being detail-oriented would matter greatly since the outcomes of your test plan would be influenced by both the feature you’re testing and the environment in which you’re testing it. Additionally, when planning for the test environment of the software release candidate, you must decide the hardware, software, operating system, and device combinations you will evaluate as part of the scope.

  • 5. Execute and Track Progress

    After everything is planned and ready, you may now proceed to this step. This is the step where the created release test plan is put into action. Keep in mind that whenever the release test plan is in place, you must follow a very precise procedure. The testing procedure is comparable to the Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC). The STLC is also similar to the Software Development Life Cycle in that it follows each phase of testing, which often includes stages such as a requirements/design review, a test planning phase, a test designing phase, a test environment setup, a test execution phase, and a test reporting phase.


How does communication affect a release testing procedure?

The cornerstone of successful software testing is open and regular communication, which should be maintained in every testing team. Nowadays, testers frequently operate in full isolation and seldom communicate with other team members. Such communication (or lack thereof) frequently results in testers spending more time sending and receiving emails, attending meetings, accepting phone calls, and delivering status updates. It also has an influence on common knowledge throughout the whole team and leads to a lack of awareness of risks and challenges that might hinder the project.

When is a good time for software testing to be stopped?

The answer depends on how complex the software release candidate is. With today’s software applications getting increasingly complicated, it’s tough to know when to end testing. However, there are several common indications that might assist you in determining when testing must be halted. When all test cases have been finished, test budgets have been spent, the beta/alpha phase has concluded, bug rates have dropped, and deadlines have passed, it is time to cease testing the software release candidate.

How can an unstable test environment affect the entire release test process?

Unstable surroundings have a tendency to interrupt the whole release process. They cause disputes and scheduling delays because they are poorly managed; in the long term, they can have an influence on the quality, availability, and performance of test environments, as well as time-to-market timeframes and costs. To solve concerns with unstable environments, it is very important to start standardizing test environment requirements even if it’s still early on in the release testing lifecycle.

As stated throughout this article, release testing is composed of multiple methods/types rather than being a single direct testing method. And to add to that, an ideal release testing approach should place emphasis on speed, stability, and user experience. In order to make a release testing method efficient in relation to the software/application being tested, a release test plan must be created. In this article, different samples of such plans are readily available for you to acquire and use as a guide.