What is the Software Testing Life Cycle? A Complete Guide

Are you planning to develop and launch a software solution that is bug-free? Do you want to ensure that your software gets released in the market without errors or bugs?

If so, you might have the following questions in your mind:

  • How to ensure the software is bugs and errors-free
  • Does the software meet the performance criteria as required?
  • Does the software adhere to the quality requirements?

Testing is the answer to these questions. However, if you conduct tests without an appropriate plan or division of work, it can get tedious and cumbersome. The outcomes may not be in sync with what you need. That’s where the software testing life cycle comes to your aid.

As one of the top software companies in Toronto, Canada, we have defined a complete guide that takes you through the testing life cycle (STLC).

In this guide, you will learn about the:

  • Complete software testing life cycle
  • Different phases of the testing life cycle
  • Best practices to follow while software testing

Let’s get started.

First let’s understand what STLC is.

What is the Software Testing Life Cycle?

The software testing life cycle is the series of tasks included in the testing process to determine if the software solution meets the required quality standards.

STLC involves phase-wise test execution. The testing environment is crucial to several software development life cycle stages.

Now that you know what STLC means, let’s understand why it is a critical part of software release.

What is the Importance of the Software Testing Life Cycle?

STLC is crucial for ensuring quality software releases. As discussed, it ensures a software testing process where the testing team can fix bugs, identify issues and resolve them before it is released to the end users. Check out the importance of the software testing process (STLC).

  1. The STLC increases the test coverage for the particular software product
  2. With the right testing procedure, you can reduce the cost of developing software solutions
  3. Allows adhering to critical business objectives that help with quality releases
  4. Offers greater consistency as the software testing goes through the requirement analysis phase
  5. Results in clear software specifications that help with testing planning and test case development
  6. As the goals are clear and defined, it becomes easier to determine the test metrics, which helps to track progress
  7. This systematic approach that begins with a test strategy and ends with test results helps resolve bugs faster and offers quality releases to the market

The software testing life cycle (STLC) comprises different phases that unify to release high-quality and perfectly developed solutions for the business requirements. Let’s look at the top testing phases you should know.

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6 Different Phases in Software Testing Life Cycle

The software testing life cycle is divided into six phases, including planning and actual execution. Go through the finer points for each phase and the deliverables to completely know about each phase. Let’s first start with the requirements analysis phase.

  1. Requirement Analysis

    In the requirement analysis stage, the testing team collects featured requirements within the software development life cycle process. After that, the team evaluated the collected requirements to create testable aspects in the software. Moreover, to create proper testable aspects the testing team meets with stakeholders if required.

    At this stage, the different teams unify to determine the functional and non-functional testing requirements that need to be tested for the specific results. The testing team then performs testing either manual or automated.

    Summary of the requirement analysis stage to help you learn what it includes:

    • Determining and prioritizing the functional and non-functional requirements
    • Define the blind spots that exist in the specifications mentioned
    • Prioritize the different testing routines
    • Check for automation testing feasibility

    Deliverables you get after the requirement analysis stage:

    • Requirement traceability matrix
    • Automation feasibility report
    • Detailed requirement analysis report
  2. Test Planning

    During the test planning phase, the QA team creates the test plan document to define the scope, objectives and goals. In this phase, the quality assurance team outlines the testing strategies, tools, methods, and metrics. The roles and responsibilities get decided for the testing team.

    Summary of the test planning stage to help you learn what it includes:

    • Estimate the testing time and milestones
    • Determine the testing tools
    • Assign tasks and outsource the activities
    • Check if the team needs training

    Deliverables you get after test planning:

    • Risk analysis document
    • Effort estimation
    • Testing strategy document
  3. Test Case Creation

    During the test case development stage, the testing team is responsible for creating the test cases. You need to create test cases based on the SRS requirements defined and the chosen test environments. Each test case defines the test inputs, procedures, execution, and expected results.

    A single functional or unit test should cover all possible use cases for the particular module. While creating test cases, you also need to ensure that your created tests are transparent, efficient, effective, and adaptable.

    Summary of the test case creation stage to help you learn what it includes:

    • Creation of detailed test cases for the function
    • Determining the test cycle time for each test case
    • Test automation scripts for the ones that are feasible for automated testing
    • Creating test data for the different testing environments

    Deliverable you get after the test case creation stage:

    • Test cases
    • Test Scripts
    • Automation scripts
  4. Test Environment Setup

    While creating the test cases, you can also determine the test environment. During this stage, the testing environments are configured and deployed according to the testing requirements.

    It even allows you to configure the testing tools like Appium, Selenium, and TestComplete within the testing environments. Staging, testing, and production are examples of software development environment details.

    Summary of the test environment setup stage to help you learn what it includes:

    • Determine the test environments based on the requirements and software architecture
    • Setting up the test environment
    • Installation and creation of smoke tests
    • Test data setup

    Deliverables after completion of testing environment setup stage:

    • Test environment setup
    • Smoke testing results
  5. Test Case Execution

    Test execution is an important part of the software testing life cycle (STLC). Each of the test cases and scripts is executed in the deployed environment. The executions sync with the test plan to quickly identify and resolve the bugs.

    Every test case that is passed is given a particular score to determine its success during the test execution phase. All the bugs and successes are documented (testing reports) at the end of this phase.

    Summary of the test case execution stage to help you learn what it includes:

    • Executing the test cases based on the test plan document
    • Determining the issues and bugs in the software solution
    • Updating the traceability matrix to report the issues
    • Documenting the bugs and tracking them till they are fixed

    Deliverable you get after test case execution stage:

    • Detailed text execution report
    • Bug reports
    • New test cases to resolve the bugs with tracking metrics
  6. Test Case Closure

    At the end of the text execution phase begins the test cycle closure phase. At this stage, the entire software testing life cycle is evaluated. The results, such as test coverage, quality assessment and test metrics used in the life cycle, are checked to see if they fulfill the requirements. It is used to identify whether the apt factors were assessed and whether the risks were identified properly.

    Summary of test case closure to help you learn what it includes:

    • A detailed review of the testing process
    • Documenting all the testing variables, including the test plan, testing environment and test results
    • Creating the test closure report along with a detailed list of the test metrics like objective met, total costs, any errors found, and duration of testing
    • Checking the severity and priority of the defects identified from the software testing

    Deliverables you get after the test case closure stage:

    • A detailed test closure report
    • Documenting the test metrics

So, these are the phases of testing. Now, let’s move to another important that you should know. There is a criterion to enter and exit in each phase of the software testing life cycle (STLC). Let’s take a look at the criteria.

What are Entry and Exit in STLC?

Every phase in the STLC is interlinked through the entry and exit criteria. Let’s understand what it means by both the criteria and how they are defined. The entry and exit criteria are pre-defined requirements or conditions that should be met before the testing team can proceed to the next phase.

Testing PhaseEntry CriteriaExit Criteria
Requirement AnalysisAcceptance of requirements documentAutomation and traceability matrix reports
Test PlanningDocuments of requirements, requirement traceability, and automation test feasibility if requiredApproved test strategy and effort estimation documents
Test Environment SetupTest data for verifying the testing environment setup, smoke test cases, and system design and software architecture.Test data setup; smoke tests should pass
Test Case CreationRequirements document and test plan with RTMTest cases and scripts reviewed and approved
Test Case ExecutionTest plans, cases and scripts should run properlyComplete execution of all test cases
Test Cycle ClosureTest complete indication; test results with defects report and final test reportTest closure report

As you have gone through the STLC life cycle, now let’s learn the difference between SDLC and STLC to get a clear understanding of how both of these life cycles differ.

What is the Difference Between SDLC and STLC?

Here’s a detailed view of the difference between the software development and testing life cycle.

Criteria for DifferenceSoftware Development Life Cycle (SDLC)Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC)
DefinitionThis is a structured process aimed at delivering high-quality solutions at affordable cost in a short span of time.This is a structured process to assess if the software product meets the quality goals defined during the software development process.
The FocusBoth development and testing.This is focussed on testing and quality assurance.
ObjectiveDelivering high-quality software.Releasing software products that are free of bugs and issues.
The Total Phases
  1. Requirements gathering
  2. System Analysis
  3. Software designing
  4. Software development phase
  5. Test case designing and execution
  6. Deployment
  7. Maintenance
  1. Requirement analysis
  2. Test planning
  3. Test environment setup
  4. Test case development
  5. Test execution
  6. Test cycle closure
Requirement AnalysisDefine the requirements for the software solution based on existing gaps and solutions.Plan for the functional and non-functional requirements for the ideal test plan.
Design PhaseThe software development team will work on the wireframes, prototype and actual design for the software solution.Creating the test strategy in sync with the software architecture and design. The test environment setup and smoke test cases are also developed at this stage.
Development PhaseActual coding of the product occurs at this stage of development process.The team will create test cases.
Testing PhaseThe team will conduct detailed testing of the product, including regression testing and functional tests.The testing begins at this point. All the prepared test cases are executed.

Let’s look at some of the best practices to follow during the software testing life cycle.

5 Best Practices to Follow in STLC

Here are all the best practices the software development team should follow to inspire a high-quality product

  • Adopt the “test early, test often” mantra for quicker and bug-free releases
  • The continuous testing process as part of your CI/CD pipeline helps get quicker feedback and resolve the issues faster
  • Implement the right test cycles based on the requirements to eliminate redundancy and gain quicker results
  • Try not to run the same tests again and again as that reduces the efficiency and renders it meaningless
  • Create new test cases as per the testing priorities to get better results

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This is all about the software testing life cycle. Still, if you are looking for more information on STLC, check the following section where we have answered the most asked questions.

FAQ About STLC

  1. What are the different types of software testing?

    Certainly, there are 4 main software testing types to consider before deploying your software. Here are the names of the tests.

    • Unit testing
    • Integration testing
    • System testing
    • Acceptance testing
  2. What is the Agile testing life cycle?

    The agile testing life cycle follows the rules and principles determined by Agile development. However, it is not sequential, like the development phase. The testing activities are conducted at the end of the development stage and are continuous.

  3. Why is testing important in software development?

    The testing procedure can help the teams identify if the software product is in sync with the requirements. It evaluates the quality, assesses the software for bugs and resolves errors for risk mitigation.

Use Software Testing Life Cycle to Release Bug-free Software

A sound testing procedure is as critical as your development and implementation phase. It is important to identify the valid and feasible tests for your software solution before proceeding with the test environment and finally the execution.

It is equally important to build the test cases and determine the entry and exit criteria before proceeding with the execution. Make sure to document all aspects of testing for the best outcomes. Keep refining the test cases to suit new environments and testing requirements.

If you have any doubts about software testing or looking to hire software testers, get in touch with our software consultants. We will help you from testing requirements to test execution to create bug-free software solutions.

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Rakesh Patel

Written by

Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel is the Founder and CEO of Space-O Technologies. He has 28 years of IT experience in business strategies, operations & information technology. He has expertise in various aspects of business like project planning, sales, and marketing, and has successfully defined flawless business models for the clients. A techie by mind and a writer at heart, he has authored two books – Enterprise Mobility: Strategy & Solutions and A Guide To Open311.