Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Testing Phase of an IT Project

The testing phase of the IT project life cycle ensures that all requirements are met. Work conducted at this stage includes verifying that the functions are performed accurately, that the system works with all interfacing systems, and that the new system meets quality and/or standard requirements.

During the testing phase, the project manager (PM) must understand each of the components to monitor the process, but doesn't actually have to take part in completing the phase. The testing phase involves the following steps.

1. Identify the inputs.
In the first step of the test phase, you should identify the following inputs.
  • Corporate IT standards. The corporate standards are used to determine the set of testing tools to be used for the different stages of testing.
  • Conversion plan. The conversion plan specifies the order in which parts of the application will be implemented and the functionality corresponding to each release.
  • Data conversion process. The data conversion process documents the design of the application required to create the databases for the system.
  • Design document. The application flow and workflow section of the design document are used during the testing phase to ensure that the product works as intended.
  • Requirements specifications. The requirements specifications are used to ensure that the product meets all of its functional and quality requirements.
2. Identify the tools.
The next step, identify the tools, involves tools that will be used to test the system and track the results. Standard tools, such as word processing software, presentation and spreadsheet tools, and the specialized tools shown below, can be used in the testing phase.
  • Testing tools. Testing tools are used to test the system. They are specific to the types of environments, programs, and testing to be performed on them. For example, Web-based environments need Web-based testing tools, such as a Web browser.
  • Bug tracking databases. These tools identify, categorize, log, and track the resolution of bugs. For example, a spreadsheet with a description of the problem, a rating, a potential solution, and the date and signature of the person reporting the bug is a type of bug tracking database.
  • Source code control systems. These tools help when different people are working on units of the code at the same time. This helps to avoid overwriting or undoing changes of others. For example, implementing versions of the product and assigning version control to one person at a time is a type of control system.
3. Conduct the key activities.
The third step of the testing phase is to conduct the key activities shown below.
Design the testing approach. The purpose of this activity is to prepare for the testing that takes place. First you need to determine the level of testing and then the types of testing.
  • Create the test plan. This activity involves creating a test plan that includes the specific testing to be performed, the testing approach, the test conditions, the test schedule, the expected results, and the personnel involved.
  • Create the test model. This activity involves creating a system test model to represent a production environment and includes all databases and files. It is used to fully test every system modification.
  • Perform the integration and user acceptance testing. The integration test verifies the accuracy of the communication among all programs in the new system. The user acceptance test simulates the actual working conditions of the new system, including the user manuals and procedures.
  • Check the detailed results. This activity involves the PM and the team members checking the test results of each cycle to verify the proper performance of each function under normal and abnormal conditions.
3. Obtain the desired outputs.
The next step in the testing phase, obtain the desired outputs, involves obtaining the test results, which are used as evidence that all the planned cycles have run successfully and that all outstanding issues have been resolved.

4. Meet the milestones to complete this phase.
In the final step, the PM obtains a conversion readiness sign-off form from the stakeholders of the project. This is the milestone that needs to be met for this phase of the project.

The testing phase ensures that the product meets all requirements and increases the chances of a successful project. Once it is completed, the project can move on to the final phase of the IT project life cycle—the rollout phase.

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