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Software Testing Life Cycle – A Beginner’s Guide


Software Testing Life Cycle refers to 6 phases of the software testing process. Learn about each phase of STLC in-depth in our article. Source: – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Software Testing Life Cycle – A Beginner’s Guide

Software Testing Life Cycle A Beginners Guide
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Testing is a fundamental part of any production
process. No matter what the product is, it is
always tested for quality and defects before it
reaches the customers so that they receive a
fully-functioning quality product. The same
applies to software products as well. In the
world of software, the testing process is
formally called Software Testing Life Cycle
(STLC)! For example, in a car manufacturing
facility the production process consists of
numerous steps including engineering, assembly,
paint job, interior installations, etc. But
before a car is shipped to a showroom to be sold
to customers, it always passes through a rigorous
testing procedure. This ensures that the final
product meets the required quality and safety
standards. Now think if the business is a
software development firm and the product being
produced is a customised piece of software. The
same concept of quality assurance applies here as
well! A software product is always tested and
goes through a software testing life cycle before
it is deployed to be used by the clients or end
users. So if you are wondering how exactly is a
software product tested, you need to understand
what a software testing life cycle is and what
steps are part of a successful software testing
What Is Software Testing Life Cycle?
Software testing life cycle is a multi-step
testing procedure that is carried out to certify
a software product. It defines a series of phases
that are performed by software engineers to test
that the software is free of bugs and
faults. You might already know that when
developing a software, it goes through phases of
a software development life cycle (SDLC). So how
is software development life cycle
(SDLC) different from software testing life cycle
STLC Vs. SDLC How Do They Differ?
The distinction between SDLC and STLC is actually
very simple! SDLC outlines the steps of the
overall software development process, all the way
from gathering requirements to deployment and
maintenance of the software. Testing is a step in
SDLC that is performed before deployment. It is
also commonly referred to as Quality
Assurance. STLC on the other hand, is a series
of steps performed within the testing phase. It
outlines sequential phases and activities that
are performed while testing a software
product. Now that you are clear
about what is STLC and how it differs from SDLC,
lets understand what are the different phases in
STLC Phases
  • With the advancement of software technology, the
    testing process has also become more complex.
    Today a software product goes through multiple
    STLC phases before it is deployed and used.
    Various types of tests are conducted to identify
    not just the bugs but any minor glitches so that
    the clients are completely satisfied with the
    performance and quality of your products.
  • STLC models usually consists of 6 phases of
    testing beginning from requirement analysis to
    test cycle closure. The phases of STLC take place
    in the following order
  • Requirement Analysis
  • Test Planning
  • Test case development
  • Test Environment setup
  • Test Execution
  • Test Cycle closure

All software testing phases are important because
they make sure that testing is carried out in a
systematic manner and is documented to avoid any
gaps. All STLC phases basically include a list of
activities that need to be performed, and has a
set entry and exit criteria.
What Is Entry And Exit Criteria?
Entry Criteria These are all the prerequisites
that need to be completed before the phase of the
testing life cycle can be initiated. Exit
Criteria These are the requirements that need to
be met before the phase of testing cycle can be
concluded. In the sections that follow we will
take a closer look at what the entry and exit
criteria for each phase of STLC testing are, and
what activities are performed within it.
Requirement Analysis
As the name suggests, a requirement analysis
phase involves gathering information about the
software requirements, and the purpose why the
software is being built. It is very important to
be familiar with the requirements of the software
product in terms of its functionalities,
specifications, and design. Reviewing these
requirements allows the Quality Assurance (QA)
team to know exactly what needs to be
tested. This is the first step of a Software
Development Life Cycle as well. The documents
prepared at that stage, such as Functional
Specification Document, Software Requirement
Specification Document, and Application Design
Document usually serve as a requisite for this
phase. Using these documents, QA team reviews
all the requirements and they consult project
managers, clients, subject matter experts and
other relevant people regarding any questions and
queries they might have. This step ensures that
they have a sound knowledge about the product
that needs to be tested. Using the information
gathered they should define the focus and
priorities of the testing process. The test
environment details should also be evaluated at
this stage. Moreover, it should also be defined
if automated testing will be required or not.
Automated testing is a process where a software
product is tested using automation tools that run
predefined test cases. It needs to be decided in
this phase whether testing will be carried out
manually or using such automation.
Test Planning
After the requirement analysis is completed the
QA team proceeds to the test planning phase. It
is a fundamental stage of a testing development
life cycle. A test plan document is made during
this stage that outlines the test strategy. You
can think of this document as a blueprint of the
entire testing process, the steps involved within
it, the tools required and every other detail
that will be important for testing of the
software product. You can think of a test plan
document as a business plan. A key step
performed at this stage is that the risks and
costs of the testing process are estimated. A
team effort estimation document is prepared that
measures the testing process in terms of hours
required to complete it. Using this, a timeline
for the process is created which becomes a part
of the test plan document. The table below
summarizes the requirements, activities and
deliverables of the test planning phase.
Following activities will be performed in this phase QA team will determine the objectives and coverage of the test project.  Prepare a list of the types of testing that will be carried out. There are multiple types of testing that are performed including ? Unit Testing ? System Testing ? Integration Testing ? User Acceptance Testing (UAT)  Select testing tools that are required to conduct software testing. For example, every software testing life cycle requires at least one of the following tools ? A bug reporting tool ? Test management tool ? Test automation tool (if required)  Break down the testing process into steps and describe each step.  Define the test environment required.  Prepare a test schedule highlighting the timeline for the entire testing process and each step.  If the testing process involves automation testing then the steps, requirements and details of automation testing will also be compiled at this stage.  Define control procedures and the risks of the STLC methodology
Phase Requirement
To begin the test planning stage, the following documents should be available Requirement Specifications Document  Automation feasibility report (if applicable)  List of testable requirements
A detailed test plan document. You can find the test plan template here.Test effort estimation document this document highlights the software testing life cycle in terms of hours required to complete it.
Test Case Development
  • Test case are detailed test scenarios that are
    executed to check every functionality of the
    software product. Imagine if you have to test an
    email app developed for mobile phones for every
    functionality of the app, there will be a
    different test scenario. For example, to test
    that the login function of the app performs
    perfectly, emails are being transmitted from the
    sender to the recipient, formatting is proper,
    and hundreds of other test cases will be written
    in order to ensure that all aspects of the
    application are tested. Lets take a closer look
    at this example.
  • When a user tries to login to the app, they will
    perform the following steps
  • Launch the email app on their phone
  • Enter their Email address
  • Enter their Password
  • Click the login/submit button.
  • This scenario can result in a number of test
    cases, for example
  • Test Case 1 Test result when correct email
    address and password is entered
  • Test Case 2 Test result when incorrect email
    address and password is entered
  • Test Case 3 Test result when correct email
    address and incorrect password is entered
  • Test Case 4 Test result when incorrect email
    address and correct password is entered
  • Test Case 5 Test result when email and
    password are left blank
  • For a thorough testing process, multiple detailed
    test cases will be written for each functionality
    so any error or bug can be identified and fixed.

Phase Requirement
 Automation Feasibility and Requirement documents are required to start the test case development phase.
 Define the test scenarios and write test cases for each scenario If automation testing is applicable, prepare test automation scripts  Acquire test data needed to execute test cases.
 A list of all the possible test cases including smoke test cases Test data  Test automation scripts
When test cases are developed, the software
testing stages proceeds to the step of Test
Environment setup.
Test Environment Setup
Out of all the STLC phases, this is a
particularly important phase of the entire
software testing life cycle. It is important to
ensure that the environment in which the software
is being tested closely matches the environment
in which the application will be used after
deployment. For example, a banking application
which will run on clients server is to be
tested, then for a successful testing process it
is important to test the application in an
environment which replicates the environment in
which it will be used. Environment consists of
software and hardware that are required for the
application to function. Environment usually
comprises of servers, systems, database,
operating systems etc. A key step of this phase
is what is referred to as smoke testing. Smoke
test cases are positive test cases that are run
to see if the software meets the build acceptance
criteria. This basically means that they are
executed to check that the software product is
built stable enough to be tested. Since it is a
non-exhaustive test, it only tests the main
functionalities of a software product. For
example, a smoke test for an online banking
application would check if the login function of
the app is working, if the interface is loading,
if each clickable option on the homepage is
working etc. Once it is established that the
basic features are working only then a more
exhaustive testing of the entire product can be
completed in the next phase.
Phase Requirement
Before beginning this phase the following should be available Test Data  Test Plan  Smoke Test cases
Following are the steps that need to be performed at this stage Prepare a list of software required for the testing process.  Prepare a list of hardware required for the testing process.  Setup test environment.  Once it is set up, execute the smoke test cases to ensure the built product and environment is stable enough to proceed with the test execution phase.
 A fully-prepared test environment to proceed with the next phase Result of smoke test cases
Test Execution
This step is the main crux of the entire STLC
process. This is the stage where all the test
cases that were developed are executed. There are
two ways to of execution manual and
automatic. In manual testing, a Q/A engineer
manually performs the test cases and records the
results. While for automated testing, test
scripts are developed that are automatically run
in an automated testing tool to check the results
of each test case. There are 3 possible results
of test case execution Passed, Failed, or
Blocked. Passed A test case is passed when it
is executed and the result is as per the required
output. For example, in our login functionality
example, when a correct email address and
password is entered and the user is successfully
logged in, it shows that the test case is passed.
Or in other words, no bug is identified. Failed 
If an incorrect email and password was entered
and the user was still able to log in, instead of
being shown an error, it shows that the test case
failed. Blocked A blocked test case is when a
case execution fails due to some internal or
external defects in the application. For any
test cases that are failed or blocked, they are
reported back to the development team who fix the
bug. Once it is fixed, it is retested to ensure
that the functionality performs perfectly.
Phase Requirement
For the Test Execution stage of a software testing life cycle, you require the following Test Plan  List of test cases  Test data
 Execute the test cases as planned and record the result status. For every bug reported in the testing process assign a bug ID  Communicate the identified failed or blocked cases and retest once the defects are fixed.  Prepare a detailed test execution report summarizing the results of test cases.
 Test case execution report document
Test Cycle Closure
Test Cycle closure, as the name indicates, is the
concluding stage of the software testing cycles.
When the test execution stage is completed, as
defined earlier, a closure report is
prepared. Closure report is a document which
evaluates the entire process and all the phases
of software testing. It evaluates the process on
the basis of objectives, time, cost, coverage, 
and number of defects and bugs identified. Testin
g is a process that can go on for multiple
cycles, but to make sure that it is concluded an
exit criteria is decided between the clients and
the software engineers. Usually, this criteria
can be something like when the 90 of the testing
is bug free, or when there are less than 10 bugs
reported, etc. When a STLC process meets the
exit criteria, it is concluded by preparing a
closure report. Often after this, the product is
sent for User Acceptance Testing (UAT) where the
software is tested by the actual users who will
be using the product in the long run. If any
errors or bugs are overlooked by the engineers
and are identified by the users they can be
communicated to them to have it fixed.
Phase Requirement
Following documents from the preceding documents will be required to begin this stage of the software testing life cycle A completed test case execution report  A report on defected test cases
Following activities will be performed at this stage Evaluate the testing cycle based on the predetermined exit criteria  Prepare a document evaluating the Scope, Cost, Time, Quality, Critical defects of the testing cycle  Prepare a list of improvements for future projects
 Test Closure report
Now That You Know What the Software Testing Life
Cycle Is Lets Understand at What Stage of
SDLC It Is Performed
As discussed previously, testing is an essential
part of the software development process. But at
what stage of the development cycle is testing
performed? Well, the answer to this lies in
differentiation between the kinds of
testing. Testing can be for two kinds, one which
is for the purpose of verification and one for
validation. This can also be understood as the
concepts of Quality Assurance and Quality
Control, respectively. Validation or Quality
Control of the software product is done only
after it is developed. It is conducted on a
completed or near-completed product to ensure
that it performs flawlessly. In other words, the
Test Execution phase of the STLC is a phase where
the product is tested for Validation or Quality
Control. While, verification or Quality
Assurance of the software product is performed
throughout the development process, even before
the product reaches a completed form. It is a
process of evaluating work products at every step
to make sure that they are bug-free and meet the
software specification. It is performed parallel
to the development life cycle phases.

Lets recap everything discussed about what is
STLC and its different phases of testing.
Software testing life cycle is similar to how any
other products are tested for quality before they
reach end customers. As discussed previously this
process involves 6 stages beginning from
requirement analysis to closure. In a world
where we as users constantly demand applications
and software for our needs, we remain connected
to them 24/7 and some of our most important tasks
are performed by them. We as users demand
software products that perform perfectly, because
lets be honest, nobody likes an app full of bugs
and glitches. Hence, all software products should
pass through a rigorous STLC testing to make sure
we as customers are satisfied with the
performance quality.