2.2. How Many Test Plans?
Suppose that you are working on SpeedyWriter. Further suppose that, as the test manager, you have responsibility for the component, integration, and system test phases, with an aggressive beta testing program during the system test phase. You thus have three distinct test subprojects to plan and manage. Do you write one plan or three? I favor using separate plans for test subprojects that are distinct in one or more of the following ways:
Different time periods
If the test planning, test development, test environment configuration, and test execution tasks for the subprojects start and end on different dates, I find that I have the information needed to plan some subprojects well before I get the necessary information for the other subprojects. (See Chapter 11, "Testing in Context: Economics, Lifecycles, and Process Maturity," for more information on system lifecycle models and test phase timing.) If I try to write only one test plan, I find myself forced to leave large sections of it marked "TBD" ("to be determined"), which can make the overall plan hard for people to understand and approve.
Detailed discussions of code coverage instrumentation and platform-independent automated GUI test tools don't really go together. Likewise, in the case of hardware, discussions of thermal chambers, accelerometers, and business application compatibility testing can create a rather eclectic mix of topics in a plan.
If I'm ...