People make software, and they make mistakes. Unfortunately, mistakes in software development can become too expensive. That is why testing deserves its own phase in the SDLC.
A software testing lifecycle (STLC) is a process within the software development lifecycle that helps ensure the highest possible quality of the end product and its adherence to client and industry requirements. Its main steps are as follows:
If you are eager to learn what STLC is, where it belongs in the software development life cycle, and how to do it right, make sure to read this post until the end.
A software testing life cycle is a series of steps to ensure that the product meets the quality objectives. It is an integral part of the software development life cycle that starts as soon as requirements are defined. A strategy based on STLC enforces a systematic and documented approach to testing and increases the chance of producing a better software product.
There are six main phases of the testing life cycle. Some can be split into smaller steps or skipped depending on the project’s nature, the available resources, and the chosen SDLC model.
Both the software development life cycle and software testing life cycle relate to software application development and often overlap their timelines. However, they pursue different objectives. SDLC aims to deploy high-quality software, whereas STLC is there to identify any parts of the software that are not working as expected.
Teams that adhere to the STLC methodology begin testing operations early and validate the quality of digital products as they are developed. This way, they minimize the chance of errors at the product deployment.
The software testing life cycle can be performed as a series of steps within the SDLC or alongside its stages. Yet, while the development cycle can happen without the testing cycle (which is highly discouraged), the opposite is not possible.
Teams that follow STLC achieve better consistency and effectiveness when testing a software application. They also have goals for each project aspect defined more clearly, and all the project requirements verified. Since all testing activities are planned beforehand, the time constraints for testing are more precise. Finally, the software testing life cycle ensures that each feature is tested before adding any additional ones.
For a business owner, the advantages of the software testing life cycle mentioned above result in the following:
Going through a sequence of STLC steps guarantees a high-quality software release. It happens due to methodical validation through ideation to design and execution, ensuring the goals are set and clear and the necessary deliverables are present.
There are six main phases of the software testing life cycle. However, following them all is not mandatory, as we said earlier. Likewise, you can split some phases into smaller steps if that aligns with your development cycle better.
Phases of STLC:
Let’s go over each phase in more detail.
QA and software testing services usually begin with reviewing and analyzing available requirements and specifications. Project requirements often include software requirements and system requirements.
Software requirements cover high-level business needs, the system architecture, and details on each feature’s design and maintenance. Functional and non-functional requirements describe system requirements.
The testing team starts identifying the requirements that produce outcomes by feeding them with specific input data. These are testable requirements. Ideally, all the requirements should be testable. Otherwise, it’s impossible to determine acceptance criteria and validate a feature’s quality.
Next, testers work within their teams and cross-functionally to decide how to test software and prioritize their activities. They also determine if automated testing is feasible, clarify vague requirements, and consider an appropriate test environment.
In a nutshell, the Requirement Analysis stage aims for the following:
The Requirement Analysis stage results in these deliverables:
After analyzing the requirements, the QA engineers outline the scope and objectives for testing. They outline the actions and resources required to achieve the goals, as well as the testing measures and methods for gathering and tracking those metrics.
Now, the requirements received and validated at the previous step turn into a testing strategy. This document will keep the testing and development teams on the same page. This is especially helpful when testing occurs in parallel with development.
Based on the created plan, the team analyzes risks and estimates time and effort. Then, management decides on testing tools, assigns roles and responsibilities, and puts together the deliverables.
Briefly, the goal of the Test Planning stage is:
The Test Planning phase deliverables are:
Based on the test strategy, the testing team develops test cases. This is the most creative part of the process, as testers have the areas to validate specified in the requirements, but they are free to choose how they achieve this task.
In addition, a test has to cover all possible use cases of the same module. Every test case includes test inputs, processes, execution circumstances, and anticipated outcomes to guarantee clarity and transparency.
Next, test cases are prioritized due to their effect on the product. If automation is applicable, the scripts are written, too. Eventually, all the test cases are reviewed, updated, approved, and combined in test suites.
To sum up, the Test Development phase aims to:
The deliverables of the Test Development step are listed below.
This step can be done in parallel with test case development. The QA team refers to the test plan and decides which test environment they should use.
The test environment represents software and hardware conditions, frameworks, configurations, test data, and networks. These should mimic the devices of the product end-users. For instance, most product users are on Android devices, and some of them also use Chrome. Therefore, a test environment should include the parameters of an average Android device and the most popular Chrome version.
The QA team could perform smoke tests If some software modules were already built. These are very basic checks to see if the product is ready for more comprehensive testing.
Briefly, the goal of the Test Environment Setup phase is:
Test Environment Setup step deliverables:
Testers follow the test plan and carry out tests prepared in the previous step. The goal is to execute the test cases within the allotted time. If there is a bug, it goes to the bugs report to be addressed by the development team.
As developers fix the defects, the QA team often retests the module to ensure no new bugs. Test automation tools help greatly speed up repetitive testing tasks and save time and resources.
Let’s outline the Test Execution phase objectives:
Deliverables of the Test Execution step:
Test closure is the process of test execution completion and the last phase of the STLC. The QA team verifies the testing objectives were met and reports any unexpected or unusual software behavior revealed during testing. They also archive all the resources used for testing, such as tools, scripts, and environments, for the client.
Further, the testing team meets to discuss and analyze the testing work and results at this step. They calculate test coverage, take lessons from the current cycle and identify ways for improvement to implement them in the future.
The main goals of the Test Closure phase:
Test Cycle Closure deliverables:
Entry and exit criteria in STLC are the conditions for a phase to start and end. They help limit the testing time and achieve the required quality, functionality, and efficiency. Different phases of testing have specific criteria.
Entry criteria state what a tester should do before starting the testing. Below, we listed the activities and documents that should be completed before beginning an STLC phase:
Exit criteria specify the activities and documents that a tester should complete before starting the next phase. Ideally, the next stage cannot begin until all the exit criteria of the previous step have been met.
In practice, the entry criteria for the next phase do not always require documentation from the previous step. So testers can complete them later to speed up the process.
The exit criteria for the software testing life cycle phases are:
The testing team initiates the evaluation by using the software product and comparing its behavior against the specified hardware and software requirement list to improve software quality. The actions performed during the testing process are essential to ensure that the software meets the desired standards and functions as intended. A variety of testing types exists, but we’ll explore the most popular ones here.
Let’s take an example of a log-in flow to help you understand how the software testing life cycle works in practice. Here’s how it works:
If the credentials are correct, the user lands on their profile. Otherwise, they get an error message.
Now, we will go through the phases to test the workflow and ensure it works properly.
Phase 1. Gathering requirements
First, we should learn how our application should behave and collect functional and non-functional requirements. For this, we can meet with all stakeholders and discuss what’s important to them. For our log-in flow, we should determine:
Phase 2. Tests planning
Now, we have to estimate the time and cost that will go into testing. We should determine what resources, tools, and environments we will use. Planning for our log-in functionality could include:
At this stage, we should be able to create a working document that encompasses the testing strategy, a plan, and a testing schedule.
Phase 3. Developing test cases
An example of test case activities for our log-in flow could include:
Phase 4. Setting up a testing environment
This stage can be completed simultaneously as the previous one because it doesn’t depend on its deliverables. The testing environment should simulate the conditions in which real users will run it. The activities here could be as follows:
Again, there could be more.
Phase 5. Execution
Now testers can start executing test cases and scripts. They compile the results and document bugs. Sometimes, the testing team might refine a test case or identify the need for additional test cases. If that’s so, retesting is required.
Phase 6. Test closure
As soon as all tests are executed, retesting done, and test results documented, the testing team makes reports for stakeholders. The testers also hold a meeting to identify improvements to the testing strategy and measure the success of the testing cycle.
Today, custom software development projects keep getting more complex and time-consuming. Respectively, meeting the requirements of the fast-paced market and budget limitations becomes critical. Early testing implementation is one way to spend less time searching for errors.
With the introduction of Agile, testing no longer waits for the product to be completed. Teams are now looking for a standardized system that would help to maximize resources and ensure the product meets the quality standards.
And that’s where the Software Testing Life Cycle comes into play. A systematic STLC process helps you bring order into an otherwise chaotic testing process. A lot of planning is involved, ensuring that your development and testing teams understand the project well. This also lets them make better decisions regarding the tools and testing methods.
Syndicode follows the software testing life cycle and invites the QA team to the project as early as the discovery phase. This way, we ensure maximal productivity and efficient use of resources.