how should a test plan look like ? In our organisation i have asked to use bitmaps of the product in the test plan. is this a good way of presenting a test plan ? when should a test plan be prepared and who all should be involved in preparing a test plan ? what are areas it should cover (UI, Database, etc.,)?
I have used bitmaps in the test method/testing checklist/ sections of my test plans, but only if I feel they are of added value. If you have access to a graphics program such as Photoshop, then the bitmaps can be converted to jpeg or gifs, which will reduce their size, and the size of the document. Bitmaps tend to bloat documents.
The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Test plan as I know it doesn't include test cases at all.
Are you talking about the actual test cases that a QA person executes against the product?
STD (Software Test Design) in my organization includes the tests that are going to be executed.
STP (Software Test Plan) includes, for example:
1. Dates for development drops.
2. Platforms that will be tested.
3. Risks that may have an impact on the release date.
4. Features that will be covered in the tests.
5. Features that will not be covered in the tests.
6. Resources to be used (people and machines)
I've seen bitmaps used in test procedures for regression testing (not in test plans, not in test cases - a test case is something that must be tested, a test procedure can cover multiple test cases). Test procedures are prepared before hand, these are manually executed, and then when the test cases covered by the test procedure are that important that they must be part of the regression suite, screen shots are taken for future executions during regression testing.
I think it is rather costly, but when people that have no knowledge of the application under test must execute these test procedures, it is the easiest way tto show them what is expected from them and from the system.