Test planning can and should occur at several levels. The first plan to consider is the Master Test Plan. The purpose of the Master Test Plan is to consider testing at all levels (unit, integration, system, acceptance, beta, etc.). The Master Test Plan is to testing what the Project Plan is to the entire development/testing effort.
General contents of a test plan:
This section should contain the purpose of preparing the test plan.
This section should talk about the areas of the application which are to be tested by the QA team and specify those areas which are definitely out of the scope.
Test approach :
This would contain details on how the testing is to performed and whether any specific strategy is to be followed.
This section explains the various steps to be performed before the start of test (i.e) pre-requisites.
E.g. Environment setup, starting web server/ application server, successful implementation of latest build etc.
This list out the people who would be involved in the project and their designation etc
Tasks and responsibilities:
This talk about the tasks to be performed and the responsibilities assigned to the various members in the project.
This contains tasks like bringing down the system or server, restoring system to pre-test environment, database, refresh etc.
Schedules/ Milestones :
This section deals with the final delivery date and the various milestone dates to be met in the course of project.
Hardware/ software requirements :
This section contains the details of system/server required to install the application or perform the testing, specific s/w that needs to be installed on the system to get the application running or to connect to the database, connectivity related issues etc.
Risks and mitigation process :
This section should list out all the possible risks that can arise during the testing and mitigation plans that the QA team plans to implement incase the risk actually turns into a reality.
Tools to be used :
This would list out the testing tools or utilities that are to be used in the project.
E.g. Winrunner, QTP, Test Director PCOM etc.
This section contains various deliverables that are due to the client at various points of time. i.e. daily, weekly, start of project, end of project etc. these could include test plans, test procedures, test matrices, status reports, test scripts etc. templates for all these also be attached.
This section contains the embedded documents or links to document which have been/will be used in the course of testing. E.g. Templates used for reports, test cases etc. reference documents can also be attached here.
Sign off :This section contains the mutual agreement between the client and QA team with both leads/ managers signing off their agreement on the test plan.