Once you delve into studying the peculiarities of QA, the phrase “test scenario” is repeated over and over again. We might assume that it’s a quite clear and self-explanatory term, but is it though? Do you really know the difference between a test case and a test scenario? And what is the algorithm for their creation?
If you’re struggling to answer the questions, let’s find out together what a test scenario is and why to create it in order to truly grasp every step of QA activities once and for all.
Table of contents
- What Is a Test Scenario?
- Why Do I Need to Write Test Scenarios?
- When Can I Go Without Test Scenarios?
- Simple Test Scenario Algorithms
- Test Scenario vs. Test Case: Is There Any Difference?
- 8 Examples of Test Scenarios and Test Cases
What Is a Test Scenario?
A test scenario is defined as any functionality that can be tested, for it aims to check every single feature of an app from the point of view of an end-user. Also known under the term “test condition”, it is, in essence, a short description of a specific situation that outlines what needs to be tested. It’s comprised of a set of test cases that are necessary to verify or validate the performance of a software product.
Basically, a QA expert tries to find all the possible ways a client will interact with an app or find themselves during the interaction and, based on that and the software requirements, creates new test scenario to ensure that the app meets all the desired criteria and functions as intended.
Why Do I Need to Write Test Scenarios?
Besides ensuring far broader test coverage, more reasons exist to create test scenarios. For example,
- They act as a form of documentation that captures the intended behavior of the system, serves as a reference for testers and developers, and can be used for future enhancement of the system.
- Not only QAs are involved in the creation of test scenarios, but also business analysts, developers, and even prospective clients. This way, you can be sure all common use cases are covered.
- Test scenarios act as a road map for testing efforts. They help organize the whole testing process, as you’ll understand the work scope and number of test cases and allocate resources accordingly.
When Can I Go Without Test Scenarios?
Despite their numerous advantages, sometimes the most feasible approach does not include the step of creating test scenarios. Some of them are:
- They’re not necessary to write for regression testing as all the documentation has probably been done during the previous testing steps.
- If your team is working within the Agile methodology, as the focus is often on more lightweight and iterative testing approaches.
- When there’s limited time for a project or an app is too unstable to undertake the rather complex task of writing scenarios. In this case, testers tend to prioritize assessing only critical areas or perform more ad hoc testing.
The lists are, undoubtedly, not comprehensive, and the decisions about test scenarios depend completely on a specific project. Even high-paced Agile teams can adjust and refine test scenarios on the go without creating exhaustive ones up front.
Simple Test Scenario Algorithms
The best approach to writing a test scenario boils down to following these steps:
- Learn carefully the manuals and requirement documents about the System Under Test (SUT), including:
- Business Requirement Specification (BRS),
- Software Requirement Specification (SRS),
- Functional Requirement Specification (FRS).
- Identify possible user actions and goals for each of the requirements. Think about how and why they’ll use the future app, even taking advantage of it with malicious intent.
- List all possible test scenarios encapsulating every user activity so that the testing of every feature of your app is included.
- Create a traceability matrix to make sure that every requirement is covered by a test scenario and that the user actions you’ve included align with the specifications in the requirements.
- Show the test scenarios to other team members or teammates for review and enhancement. Sometimes, people engaged in sales or product owners know more about the end user’s behavior as they directly interact with them and, hence, can provide valuable insights.
Top Practices for Writing Test Scenarios
- Keep them simple and use concise language.
- Try to create one test scenario for one requirement for ease of execution.
- Try to make it as specific as possible without mingling it with other features. For example, check that a user uses a secure password is a well-defined scenario, while check that the authentication is working is way too broad.
- If a test scenario happens to include a number of requirements, make sure that they’re assessed in isolation as well so as not to miss anything.
- Organize the scenarios into logical groups to facilitate planning and execution and to prioritize them according to their business impact and risk assessment.
- Create test scenarios that cover both positive and negative scenarios. The former validates expected behavior and successful execution, while the latter focuses on handling errors and unexpected user inputs.
- Keep them aligned with any changes in requirements, and regularly review the scenarios to ensure their accuracy and effectiveness.
Difference between Test Scenario and Test Case
It’s simple: a test scenario includes test cases! If test scenarios are written based on the requirements, then test cases are created based on a test scenario! So, essentially, a test case is a set of certain actions that need to be taken to verify a particular feature. That’s why the difference is often explained in the following way: a test case answers the question “How to test?”, and a test scenario answers “What to test?”.
Let’s briefly cover test scripts as well to get rid of any confusion connected to QA terms altogether. Look, a test script is comprised of the biggest number – out of all three – of details for documenting testing. Usually, they consist of specific steps, actions, and expected results. Test cases provide fewer details, providing more flexibility in terms of steps to be taken for testing, and test scenarios give only a concise, light description of what is to be tested.
Now that we’ve sorted everything out, let’s look at the real test scenario examples.
8 Examples of Test Scenarios and Test Cases
Let’s imagine we have an email app to test. The number of test scenarios can be huge, and in the case of complex apps, you need to consult with other stakeholders and get their approval about their priorities. Here are some of the scenarios we can create:
- Check that the email’s subject and date are in bold and that the preview of the email is in italics.
- Verify that users can save drafts of their emails for later editing and sending.
- Verify that users can create, rename, and delete email folders for organizing their messages.
- Validate that users can send and receive email attachments.
- Verify that users can sort emails based on different parameters.
- Ensure that users can forward emails received to other recipients.
- Check that the app syncs properly across multiple devices.
- Verify that users can apply filters to organize and manage their emails.
Remember that each scenario is comprised of test cases? Let’s enlist some test cases for the scenario “Verify that users can send an email successfully”.
- Ensure that a user can send an email with attachments.
- Validate that a user can send an email to a valid recipient.
- Check that a user can send an email to multiple recipients.
- Verify that a user can’t send an email without specifying a recipient.
- Verify that a user can send an email with carbon copy (CC) and blind carbon copy (BCC) recipients successfully.
- Validate that a user can send an email successfully without specifying a subject.
These test cases, in turn, will be comprised of test steps.
A Typical Test Scenario Template
Usually, a tester includes the following fields in a test scenario document:
- User Story ID or Requirement ID;
- Test Scenario ID;
- Description of the test scenario;
- Number of test cases to perform;
A lot of confusion may come from a mere misinterpretation of one ostensibly transparent term. Moreover, it turns out that there are a lot of intricacies when it comes to its application. That’s why you should always double-check if you understand everything correctly, as it’s one of the essential parts of successful software application testing. In some cases, writing clear test scenarios only adds to the cohesiveness of the whole process, while in others it may inhibit the agility of the development team. So, it all depends on the peculiarities of a project.
If you’re wondering if running test scenarios with all their numerous testing cases and steps can be automated or not, the answer is yes. At least, for the most part. Special no-code tools like DogQ allow you to write and perform all the test cases within a scenario, schedule them, and send the results to all the engaged team members.
All in all, test scenarios are usually written by testers or business analysts according to a template similar to the one provided above, and implementing the tips we’ve mentioned will certainly enhance your testing strategy. Take a look at other articles in our blog to learn even more useful details about modern QA practices!
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