Breaking Down the Software Testing Life Cycle

Jun 13, 2022 | Test Automation Insights

automated testing tools

The software testing life cycle includes six key phases. Understanding each phase can help you determine ways to streamline your software testing process.

What Is the Software Testing Life Cycle?

The software testing life cycle is a systematic way in which software is tested to ensure that certain expectations and criteria are met. These tests are carried out periodically over time to allow for methodological assessment and testing. Once this is completed, you can determine whether the item or software product is suitable for release. 

This testing is performed for the following purposes: 

  • To determine whether certain requirements have been met
  • To check if there are any defects in the product
  • To create a strategy to make the developed software verifiable 

Phases of the Software Testing Process

There are six different phases of software testing in every software testing life cycle:

  1. Requirement analysis
  2. Test planning
  3. Test case development
  4. Test environment setup
  5. Test execution
  6. Test cycle closure

To continue to the next phase, certain criteria have to be met. Certain entry criteria need to be fulfilled before testing can begin, while certain exit criteria expectations have to be met before testing can be concluded. 

A number of these phases can be concluded simultaneously; however, this is not the case for all. There are stages where the previous phase needs to be completed before continuing the testing experience. This is one of the most important ways to ensure quality control with products before you’re able to certify them. 

Requirement Analysis to Determine Testable Features

To begin the process, in the requirement analysis phase, the testing team analyzes what factors are testable and whether there are any testable requirements available. The QA team liaises with multiple stakeholders to understand what those particular requirements are. 

If at any point the team identifies requirements that are not testable, they use this phase to communicate and determine a strategy to make the testing feasible. Testers study the functional and non-functional requirements, which assists in identifying and selecting testable requirements. 

Activities performed in this phase are: 

  • Identifying the necessary tests that need to be performed
  • Collecting information about testing and its importance
  • Preparing a Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) (exit criteria)
  • Determining the environment in which testing needs to be carried out
  • Automation feasibility analysis (if needed) (exit criteria)

Examples of Testable Requirements

For a particular requirement to be testable, it has to be on par with three main factors. Testable requirements need to be:

  1. Clear
  2. Measurable 
  3. Concise

For example, the business owner of an online shop comes to you with the requirement “fast and user-friendly search for available inventory.” Although the words “fast” and “user-friendly” leave little room for ambiguity, “available inventory” could be defined in more detail. 

Thus, testable requirements should not include the following: 

  • Unnecessary text
  • Implementation details (i.e.. font, font size, placement)
  • Vagueness — specs should be detailed and to the point

Function and Non-Functional Requirements

Functional requirements explain how the system works when it is being tested under certain conditions. For example, the software has a search feature that allows the user to explore different invoices if they wish to credit an already issued invoice, or the system needs to be able to send a verification email when a new account has been created on the platform. 

Non-functional requirements explain how the product should work — they are not directly related to its functionality. For example, the software’s page should load within three seconds or should be able to handle a certain number of users at any given time. 

Testing Planning Phase: How Are You Going to Test

During this phase, the senior QA works to determine a strategy for the test plan, in addition to a breakdown of risks, expenses, and an estimated timeline. This strategy primarily provides information for: 

Activities performed in this phase include: 

  • Preparation of the test plan document
  • Strategy for the different types of testing
  • Selection of testing tools
  • An estimated cost analysis
  • Resource planning and determining roles and responsibilities
  • Training requirements

Case Development to Determine Test Cases

Following the completion of the test plan, the case development phase is where test cases are developed. For particular test cases and scripts, this phase incorporates:

  • Creation
  • Verification
  • Revision

Test cases are important because they illustrate the procedures, test inputs, and conditions in which testing needs to be conducted and the expected results. 

Test cases must be transparent, efficient, and adaptable. Following the creation of all test cases, the coverage should be 100%. 

Activities performed in this phase are: 

  • Create test cases and automation scripts (if required) 
  • Revise the test cases and scripts
  • Format the test data (provided that the test environment is available) 

Testing Environment Is Set Up

Throughout this phase, testing environments are formulated. The setup test environment determines the conditions in which a particular product will be tested and what software will be used to carry out the testing. It is a crucial phase in the software testing life cycle and can be conducted simultaneously with the case development phase. 

Ranorex specializes in testing and has a large variety of testing tools that aid in completing this phase as accurately and as smoothly as possible. 

Once the testing environments have been set up and are in place, the testing team does a smoke test to make sure the testing environment is working efficiently and accurately. 

Activities performed in this phase include: 

  • Understanding the necessary architecture, test environment setup, and preparing the required software and hardware requirement list 
  • Setting up the test environment and testing data 
  • Performing the smoke test

Actual Testing Is Executed

This phase is conducted by the testers who created and prepared the software build, which was based on the particular test plans and cases that were prepared. During this phase, the testers will assess the appropriate features in the particular environment using these test cases. 

This incorporates: 

  • Execution of the test script
  • Maintenance of the test script
  • Bug reporting

If bug reporting does occur, it is then sent back to the development team for further revision and correction, which will be followed by retesting. If not, the expected test results will be compared to the actual results, which will then be relayed back to the development team.  

Activities performed in this phase are: 

  • Recording test results, identifying defects, and logging them
  • Mapping defects to test cases in RTM
  • Retesting the product
  • Following the defects in closure

Cycle Closure Phase to Determine Outcomes

This is the final phase in the software testing life cycle. This is where the testers will draw up a closure report about the results, which will summarize: 

  • The testing process (i.e., objectives met, timeline, total expenses, test coverage, and bugs found)
  • A comparison between the expected results and actual results

The testers will also draw up defect reports. Following this, the testing team members will come together to analyze and discuss strategies used and what should be implemented in the future. 

The activities performed in this phase are: 

  • Analyzing cycle completion and strategies
  • Creating a report for test metrics
  • Recording what was taken away from the project
  • Preparing a report for test closure
  • Qualitative and quantitative reporting needs to be included
  • Identifying the defect distribution according to type and severity by performing a test result analysis

How Can You Determine Your Software Project Success?

To ensure your software project is a success, you need to understand the very things that could cause it to fail. 

  1. Make sure you are designing and developing the software for the intended user. Understanding what they need is pivotal in making sure the project becomes a success.
  2. Make sure you have clear goals, objectives, and requirements. By having clear specifications before beginning the software testing life cycle, you will not waste time on unnecessary factors that may delay or sidetrack the process. 
  3. Have a risk management strategy in place. More often than not, something will go wrong. By implementing a risk strategy and having action plans, you will know what to do when/if this occurs. 

Testing Strategies to Consider

A test strategy is the type of technique and methodology you will use to execute your testing appropriately. It’s important to consider the different types of testing strategies and what they offer. 

  1. Analytical strategy: This is known as risk- or requirements-based testing and is pivotal in your testing process. 
  2. Methodological strategy: This is where the testing team creates a standard of quality through lists or a set of conditions.  
  3. Reactive strategy: Tests are only created only after the software in question has been delivered. This aids in finding defects in the actual system.

How You Can Streamline Your Software Testing Process

  • Having a plan is one of the best ways to streamline your software testing process. It creates direction and provides a guideline for those who are involved in the project. 
  • Additionally, make sure your testers are looking at the changes made in the code and asking questions, especially if they don’t understand something. This aids in making sure the test plan is accurate or determining if it needs to be reworked.  
  • Perform your regression testing first, if it is included in the testing plan. This will help identify any broken links in the process earlier on, saving time and money.  

Ranorex examines your software product and provides you with the necessary feedback to help you build streamlined testing cycles. Additionally, we will provide you with software reports and help you understand what automation tools you need to perform these tasks efficiently. 

For more advice on expanding test coverage, delivering appropriate and fast feedback, and preventing repetition during testing, learn more through our Software Test Automation Solution Buyer’s Guide.


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