This article explores the nitty-gritty of the Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC) and, as such, answers the following questions:
What Is the Software Testing Life Cycle?
In simple language, the software testing life cycle or STLC is the sequence of activities performed during the software testing process. Among the common misconceptions, software testing is not a one-time activity but a series of activities performed across the entire software development life cycle (SDLC). This is especially true in the age of Agile projects.
Each of the activities in STLC aims to verify and validate the quality of the final product. STLC also promotes the concept of continuous testing, as software products keep transitioning through multiple changes across the entire SDLC.
How is STLC more effective than traditional methods of software testing? Traditionally, QA or software testing is performed after the product development phase and before releasing the product to the market. This is no longer feasible as customers expect the release of high-quality applications in shorter time frames.
To that end, using a series of testing activities, the STLC produces relevant results early in the development phase. As a result, development teams find themselves equipped to resolve software bugs on time, driving both customer satisfaction and higher revenues.
How does STLC differ from SDLC? Let’s discuss that next.
How Does STLC Differ from SDLC?
SDLC is the set of activities performed when developing software or applications. In essence, STLC is a part of the SDLC and restricts its activities to the software testing part. Typically, SDLC comprises the following tasks:
- Gathering software requirements
- Designing the software
- Building and testing the software product
- Deploying the software to the production environment
- Updating and maintaining the software code
On the other hand, STLC comprises:
- Test requirement analysis
- Test planning and development
- Setting up the test environment
- Executing the test cases
Here are other notable differences between SDLC and STLC:
|The goal is to achieve the development of high-quality software.||The goal is to achieve end-to-end testing of the software product.|
|Software requirements are collected by the business analyst and communicated to the development team.||QA teams design the test requirements. Based on this, they create test plans.|
|Developers write the software code.||Test cases are created and executed by the QA team.|
|SDLC is completed before the STLC.||STLC starts after SDLC is completed.|
6 Phases of the Software Testing Life Cycle
1. Requirement Analysis
Requirement analysis is the first step in the STLC. In this phase, software testers must understand the product requirements that need testing. For instance, QA teams can study both functional and non-functional requirements and then determine the requirements they need to test.
Typical activities in the requirement analysis phase include:
- Identifying and prioritizing test requirements.
- Ensuring that the QA team members clearly understand the test requirements.
- Designing the Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) to trace back every code artifact to the original requirement.
- Identifying any flaws or loopholes in the product specifications.
2. Test Planning
In this phase, the QA team creates the test plan based on the testing requirements. Test planning effectively converts the insights from the requirements phase into a documented test strategy. In this phase, involved teams can determine the time and cost of the testing process.
Typically, this phase comprises the following activities:
- Preparing a test plan based on the defined requirements.
- Selecting the right manual testing or test automation tool.
- Assigning the roles and responsibilities to individual QA team members.
- Identifying any training requirements.
3. Test Case Development
After the test planning phase, the test case development phase is all about creating the test cases based on the test plan and requirements. To be effective, test cases must cover every element or feature of the software. Additionally, QA teams prioritize test cases based on how they would impact product quality.
Here are the main tasks performed in this STLC phase:
- Updating and reviewing the prepared test cases or automation scripts.
- Defining the test conditions for the expected test outcomes.
- Preparing the test data required for the testing.
4. Test Environment Setup
Effective software testing requires a complete test environment comprising servers, test frameworks, and software tools. Additionally, the right test environment must include all configurations that end-users are likely to use.
Here are the main activities involved in this STLC phase:
- Defining the parameters of the test environment, including the hardware and software, test data, and network.
- Performing smoke tests on the built environment.
- Prioritizing and setting up test environments.
5. Test Execution
In this phase, the software application is ready for testing according to the defined test plan. This phase involves executing the test cases to identify and log any software bugs or defects. The QA team also intimates the development team of any reported bugs so that they are fixed on time.
Here are the common activities performed during this phase:
- Reporting bug details arising from executing test cases.
- Retesting the product (after bug fix) for any new defects.
- Using test automation to increase the test coverage.
6. Test Closure
This is the final phase of the STLC. This phase marks the end of test case execution and final product delivery. Based on the test results, the QA team discusses the product quality, project costs, and test coverage. At the end of this phase, the QA teams present a test closure report, which summarizes its test results.
Here are the main tasks performed during this phase:
- Checking deliverables, including test strategy, test plans, and automated test scripts.
- Completing the incident report that details any unexpected behavior observed during the testing.
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