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Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC)

Tina Vo

A passionate QA with extensive experience in the field of Software Testing, certified with MBA, ECBA and Scrum Master. Love to share knowledge and discuss Software Testing.

Published on

June 15, 2021
Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC)

Software testing is a series of systematic activities that ensure software works as expected or required. It is imperative to understand that software testing is not just a single activity (testing). It includes checking for usability and functionality by systematically carrying out the life cycle, which we refer to as Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC). STLC is an integral part in quality assurance methodology that tests how usable and functional your software ends up being—something we're here to help with.

Testing software vulnerabilities is an important step to ensure a smooth and successful rollout. STLC involves specific activities being performed in sequence during the testing process so issues can be analyzed and fixed as necessary. The different types of tests help identify what needs to happen at each stage for optimal quality.

Role of Software Testing Life Cycle

Software testing life cycle not only helps enhance the overall consistency and effectiveness, but also refines the agile testing process. Here are some of its advantages:

  • As testing is performed having the focus on well-defined goals and phases, tracking the progress of the project gets easier
  • It boosts confidence before the release of new or additional features
  • The tests being designed are high in quality with clearly defined feature specifications due to shift left testing (a practice to help find defects early in the software delivery process)
  • It facilitates systematic testing which accelerate the testing process and help in identifying and resolving the bugs quickly

Entry and Exit Criteria

Entry Criteria – Entry criteria focus on the prerequisites that need to be completed before the testing process can begin.

Exit Criteria – Exit criteria focus on the items that must be completed before the testing process can be completed.

Phases of Software Testing Life Cycle

There are six major phases in the software testing life cycle, each associated with a defined entry and exit criteria and specific activities and deliverables.

Image depicting the six phases in Software Testing Life Cycle

1. Requirement analysis

Requirement analysis is the first step of the software testing life cycle. The entry criteria for this phase is the Business Requirements Specification (BRS), which helps us understand how much work there will be to do and where it'll happen. In this phase, the testing team deeply analyses all the requirements from a testing perspective and if anything is missing or misunderstood, the quality assurance team can meet with the stakeholders to get better clarity and detailed knowledge of the requirements.

The best way forward is to have brainstorming sessions with other teams to find and analyze whether the requirements are testable or not. And in case a feature isn't testable, the testing team can communicate and discuss it with members of that team during the phase so they can come up with an effective strategy together. The exit criteria include an automation feasibility report (for deciding whether or not you should proceed with the automation of the test cases) and an approved Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM), a document that helps in mapping and tracing user requirement with test cases.

2. Test planning

Test Planning is one of the most important phases in software testing as all the testing plans are defined in this phase. This phase includes defining and drafting test plans to be followed, as well as detailing all aspects relating to how tests will be executed, including testing steps involved, tools required, roles and responsibilities, etc. Apart from the requirements, the test planning takes into account the test strategy of the company and risk analysis, risk management, and mitigation.

3. Test Case Development

Once the test planning phase is completed, it's time to enter into the test case development phase: creating, verifying, and reworking test cases and test scripts (in case of automation). Each test case defines the test inputs, testing procedures, test execution conditions, and test results. Therefore, the testing team must keep the test cases transparent, adaptable, and efficient.

The testing team can use the smoke test cases to check whether the given test environment is ready. Once the test cases are prepared, they can be reviewed by the QA team. Entry criteria in this phase include requirement documents, deliverables include test cases, test scripts, test data, and the Requirements Traceability Matrix.

4. Test Environment Setup

Test environment setup is one of the most vital phases of the software testing life cycle. The conditions on which the software or a product will be tested basically depend on the test environment. As an independent activity, this phase can be initiated along with the test case development. During this phase, the testing team needs to perform a readiness check of the given environment through smoke testing.

Activities associated with test environment setup:

  • Understanding the architecture and preparing software and hardware requirement list for the test environment
  • Setting up the test environment and test data
  • Performing smoke testing on the build

5. Test Execution

In the test execution phase, the testing team executes test cases based on the ones prepared in the previous phase. Therefore, before initiating the test execution, it is imperative to ensure that your entry criterion is met. Once the test execution is done, the test case result, whether Pass or Fail, should be updated in the test cases.

The test result, including the defect report, should be shared with the development team through a bug tracking tool like JIRA, Linear, or Trello to help them fix the defects on time. When the development team fixes all the identified defects, retesting should be performed. Entry criteria of the test execution phase include test plan document, test environment, test cases, and test data and the deliverables include defect report, test result or test case execution report, and traceability matrix with updated execution status.

6. Test Cycle Closure

Test cycle closure is the last stage of software testing, where you analyze your test artifacts, meaning your test cases and defect reports, to help identify any bottlenecks in future projects. You'll review everything from how many defects were found during testing to which bugs took up most time for developers. This will ensure that your team can execute better on their next project.

The entry criteria include test case execution report and defect report, and the deliverables include test metrics and test closure report. The report summarizes the entire testing process in detail and compares the actual results with the expected results. The comparison considers the objectives met, test coverage, total cost, time taken, and defects, if any.

As the end goal of all organizations is to release a perfect product, nothing will turn customers away more than software with bugs and an awful user experience. Organizations have made it their top priority now to keep testing among the priorities for releasing high-quality products in order to avoid such results.

Software testing life cycle offers organizations a systematic medium of performing testing. It facilitates better software quality and quick bug fixing results, and effective and efficient test results. The result of bug-free software? Increased customer satisfaction and improved ROI and brand presence.

Bonus tip: testing and bug reporting with Bird Eats Bug

Image of a session recording created using bird eats bug

Bird Eats Bug is an easy-to-use tool to help report and fix bugs faster. Creating the perfect bug report is as easy as recording your screen and letting Bird auto-capture relevant technical data. You can then push issues directly to Jira, Trello, Github and more or share the link with your developers. View session example here.

To learn more about developing a standard bug report in the software testing life cycle, read our Guide to Bug Reporting, complete with examples and templates.

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