Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC) – A Guide for Beginners

This Software testing tutorial will help you understand the Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC) in simple and easy steps. It is an essential concept for the software testing professionals.

Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC)

The STLC is an acronym for the Software Testing Life Cycle. It is a testing model which proposes to execute test execution in a systematic and planned way. In the STLC model, many activities occur to improve the quality of the product.

The STLC model lays down the following steps:

1. Requirement Analysis
2. Test Planning
3. Test Case Development
4. Environment Setup
5. Test Execution
6. Test Cycle Closure

1. Requirement analysis (RA) phase

The requirement analysis (RA) is the first stage of the STLC model. In this step, the testing team learns what to test & determine the testable requirements. If some specifications are not precise or have a disagreement, then the stakeholders like business analyst (BA), architects, customers provide the clarity.

Since the test team enters from the very beginning in the STLC, it helps to keep a tab on the new issues and in a way limits their occurrence.

The test requirements in the STLC can vary from functional to non-functional areas like security, performance, and endurance. Additionally, the team can also evaluate the feasibility of automation in the.

The entry criteria in the RA phase is as follows.

1. Requirement specifications
2. Application design documents
3. Acceptance criteria

Test team performs the following tasks.

1. Provide a questionnaire for the customer-facing people.
2. List down the priorities areas for testing.
3. Gather test environment details for carrying out the testing tasks.
4. Evaluate the possibility of test automation and prepare a report.

Following artifacts should originate as the output from this phase.

1. List of questions with answers from the customer-facing people.
2. Evaluation report on using automation (Optional)

2. Test Planning (TP) phase

The second phase of STLC is the test planning. It is a crucial step as the team here defines the whole testing strategy for the project. Hence, it gets also known as the Test strategy phase.

In this stage, the test lead has to get the effort and cost estimation done for the whole project. This phase starts out soon after the RA phase gets over. The outcomes of the TP include the Test Planning & Effort estimation documents. After the planning ends, the testing team can begin writing the test case development tasks.

The entry criteria in the TP phase is as follows.

1. Requirement documents (includes inputs on unclear and missing requirements).
2. Evaluation report on using automation

Test team performs the following tasks.

1. Provide a written objective & scope for the STLC cycle.
2. Mention the testing types to cover.
3. Estimate testing efforts and resource requirements.
4. Select the testing tools required.
5. Confirm the test infra requirements.
6. List down the testing schedule and set milestones.
7. Prepare the summary of the entire testing process.
8. Create the control policy.
9. Assign roles and responsibilities.
10. Outline the testing deliverables.
11. Conclude the entry criteria, suspension/resumption criteria, and exit conditions.
12. Mark the expected risks.

Following artifacts should originate as the output from this phase.

1. Test Plan (TP) document
2. Testing Effort Estimation (TEE) document

3. Test Case Development (TCD) phase

The testing team picks on the test case development tasks once the test planning (TP) phase is over. In this stage of STLC, the principal activity is to write detailed test cases for the requirements. While performing this task, they also need to prepare the input data required for testing. Once the test plan is ready, it needs to be reviewed by senior members or the lead.

One of the documents which team has to produce is the Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM). It is an industry-wide standard for ensuring the test case get correctly mapped with the requirement. It helps in tracking both the backward & forward direction.

The entry criteria in the TP phase is as follows.

1. Requirement documents (includes the latest changes)
2. Evaluation report on using automation

Test team performs the following tasks.

1. Write test cases.
2. Produce scripts for automation testing (Optional).
3. Gather test data required for test execution.

Following artifacts should originate as the output from this phase.

1. Detailed test cases
2. Required test data
3. Automation testing scripts (Optional)

4. Test Environment Setup (TES) phase

Preparing the test environment is a time-consuming yet crucial activity in the STLC. It enables the team to determine which conditions the application would go through testing.

Since it is an independent task, hence it can go in parallel with the test case writing stage. The team or any member outside the group can also help in setting up the testing environment. In some organizations, a developer or the customer can also create or provide the testing beds. Simultaneously, the test team starts writing the smoke tests to ensure the readiness of the test infra.

The entry criteria in the TP phase is as follows.

1. The team has the test plan available.
2. Smoke tests are ready.
3. Test data is there for the individual tests.

Test team performs the following tasks.

1. Assess the need for new Software & hardware requirements.
2. Prepare the test infra.
3. Execute smoke tests and confirms the readiness of the test infra.

Following artifacts should originate as the output from this phase.

1. Test infra equipped with the test data
2. Smoke test execution report

5. Test Execution (TE) phase

After the testing infra is ready, the test execution phase can start off. In this stage, the team runs the test cases as per the test plan defined in the previous steps.

If a test case executes successfully, the team should mark it as Passed. If some tests have failed, then the defects should get logged, and the report should go to the developer for further analysis. As per the books, every error or failure should have a corresponding defect. It helps in tracing back the test case or the bug later. As soon as the development team fixes it, the same test case should execute and report back to them.

If a test case is failing due to some defect, then it should get ignored and highlight with the reason in the report. The test summary should show how many tests passed, failed, skipped or did not run. It should run again after the defects got fixed and the report should show the latest state of all the test cases.

The entry criteria in the TP phase is as follows.

1. Test Plan (TP)
2. Test cases (TC)
3. Test data (TD)

Test team performs the following tasks.

1. Execute tests as per the test planning.
2. Provide test execution status showing the passed, failed, skipped statistics.
3. Create defects for failed cases and assign to dev for resolution.
4. Perform re-execution of test cases which have got the defect fixes.
5. Make sure the defects get closed.

Following artifacts should originate as the output from this phase.

1. Test Case Execution Summary
2. Defect Summary

6. Test Cycle Closure (TCC) phase

The testing team calls upon the meeting to evaluate the open defects, known issues, code quality issues and accordingly decides on the closure of the test cycle.

They discuss what went well, where is the need for improvement and notes the pain points faced in the current STLC. Such information is beneficial for the future STLC cycles. Each member puts his/her views on the test case & bug reports and finalizes the defect distribution by type and severity.

After the test cycle gets to the end, they furnish the closure report & publish the quality metrics.

The entry criteria in the TP phase is as follows.

1. Details of the test case execution cycle
2. Execution Summary
3. Defect Summary

Test team performs the following tasks.

1. Define closure criteria by reviewing the test coverage, code quality., the status of the business objectives, and test metrics.
3. Produce a test closure report.
4. Publish best practices used in the current STLC.

Following artifacts should originate as the output from this phase.

1. Test closure report
2. Quality metrics report
3. Whitepaper on the best practices used (Optional)

Summary – Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC)

We’ve tried to address the essential points of the Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC). We would now like to know what have you learned about STLC.

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TechBeamers