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Using a Test Plan

When you set out to test an application or a piece of hardware in your test lab, you need to clearly define what you hope to accomplish with your testing. Determine what you hope to prove and create a test plan that demonstrates how you will prove it. Make sure that your testing method is gradual, introducing only one variable at a time. Create a plan that collects test results after each new variable is introduced, until the final environment matches the environment in which the tested application or hardware will reside in production.

It makes no sense to create an elaborate test lab if you're unable to use it effectively. To get meaningful results from your test process, you need to use carefully-thought-out test plans. This involves more than simply installing the software and playing with it for a few minutes to see if it works.

To develop effective test plans, you must first establish a set of expectations for your design, then create cases that test whether implementing your design actually delivers what was expected. An effective test plan contains the following elements:

  • A clear set of expected results

  • Carefully crafted test cases that reflect your design

  • Step-by-step procedures for executing each test

  • A clear method of measuring whether the expectations have been met

After building your test lab and developing your test plans, you're ready to carry out your tests. Be sure to document your results thoroughly. If your test reveals problems with the design, documenting your results allows you to alter the design plans and develop new test plans.

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