Software testing strategy documents are reference documents that software developers, project managers and software testing engineers can use to clearly outline their strategies for testing a piece of software. They can be incredibly helpful for keeping track of important decisions, checking past results and making sure that all client and testing team members are in accordance on the purposes of these tests. However, a software testing strategy document is not always necessary. Sometimes, in fact, prioritizing a software testing strategy document can actually impede your testing results.

But how do you tell when you need a formal software testing strategy document and when you don’t? The answer is context. Learning to separate which types of testing projects need a formal document and which don’t can help you cut down on lost time and optimize your team’s efficacy.

Why Software Testing Strategy Documents Are Useful

A software testing strategy document can be incredibly useful when you’re using it as a reference document or communication tool. After all, when you’re planning your testing strategy, it’s important that the project manager, the testing team and the client are all on the same page.

What sort of testing does the client expect the software testing team to perform? Are there any important terms or thresholds that need to be clearly defined so that all parties are working under the same assumptions? What are agreed-upon values of those terms and thresholds? Whenever there are parameters like these that need to be defined, having a software testing strategy document that everyone can reference becomes incredibly useful.

Testing strategy documents can also be an excellent place to write down results and the reasoning behind your testing engineers’ decisions as your testing team makes strategy adjustments. For example, if preliminary compatibility testing suggests that the software works well with most browsers but seems to be running into problems on previous versions of Internet Explorer, the team may decide to use their time and resources to focus on more thorough testing in that area instead of further exploring other browsers. The testing strategy document would be the perfect place to record that discovery and resulting decision.

Why a Software Testing Strategy Document Wouldn’t be Useful

Of course, software testing strategy documents aren’t always necessary. Highly formal or standardized testing strategy documents can actually cause your testing to be less efficient because you are spending more time and resources conforming your strategy and notes to a particular process than you are performing actual testing. Software testing strategies works best when they are exploratory and capable of being adjusted as new data reveals itself.

Software testing strategy documents are also completely useless if no one is actually going to read the document. If neither your client or your testing engineers requires the information you’re recording, then you essentially have written a testing strategy document just for the sake of saying you have a testing strategy document. Keeping your document free of unneeded information and to the point will help make sure your time and energy is focused on testing and not formality.