What software Testing Life Cycle: A Complete Overview

The life cycle means a series of changes that goes one after the other and this is the same when it comes to software testing. In software testing, many entities go through a sequence of changes from the very beginning till the end of the process. Basically, the software testing life cycle (STLC) is a process that executes various activities while performing testing on any solution. And these activities of STLC include checking whether the developed software solution meets the software quality standards and specific requirements that were listed by the clients or not. If there are any issues or the requirements are not matched, the software testers work with the software development team to resolve them. 

Besides this, the software testing company also contacts stakeholders and some selected inner circle of people to gain insight into the product. This is a very important step in this testing process and it helps the process become smoother. 

1. What Is Software Testing Life Cycle?

STLC is a series of activities that are performed sequentially during the testing process. This verifies that the software quality and the standard expectations are satisfied. The verification and validation of the app development process are also part of the STLC process. 

Software Testing Life Cycle

There are various STLC stages such as planning, control, implementation, standardization, and so on. These are some of the set measures of STLC. Apart from this, there is the involvement of other elements for cycle completion criteria such as test strategy, test execution, test coverage, test cases, and test case report in STLC. As a result, if you think STLC has limited functions and operations, then you are probably wrong. Because STLC has other responsibilities too other than just testing the developed product. Such as,

  • In STLC, you perform testing at all stages, hence eliminating the possibility of maximizing errors. You can identify the errors at the early stages which is more beneficial for improving the process management.
  • Secondly, now you have all the control over the quality of the product that’s created with the testing team making the most of Agile, Scrum, SAFe, and other similar methodologies.
  • This will not just ensure quality at the end but at every nook and corner of the software product.

2. Characteristics of Software Testing Life Cycle

  • The Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC) is a systematic approach to ensure that the software created is of a high standard.
  • Boost the reliability and productivity of agile testing.
  • Once requirements are established or the SRS document is complete, the STLC procedure can get started.
  • Clarify objectives and timelines for all aspects of the project.
  • While the program or product continues to be in the early phases of the STLC, the tester can assess and set the scope of testing and design effective test cases. It helps shorten the duration of the Test Cycle and delivers better-quality products.
  • Before implementing any new features, make sure they’ve been thoroughly tested.

3. Difference Between STLC(Software Testing Life Cycle) and SDLC(Software Development Life Cycle)

The way of consumption makes both STLC and SDLC different. STLC(Software Testing Life Cycle) is inside the process of SDLC(Software Development Life Cycle). SDLC is responsible for a product’s whole path from conception to completion. Testing is one of the most essential aspects of the SDLC process. The SDLC includes software testing and this component has its own life cycle, known as STLC.  But we need to know that there is a good amount of difference between these two methods. So, it’s time we must know what’s the difference between SDLC and STLC.

Software Development and Testing Life Cycle SDLC and STLC

We will start with SDLC. It focuses on the creation of a product. This means it starts with understanding consumer needs and creating a product that is beneficial to them. SDLC covers aspects before the testing phase. The SDLC steps include testing as a phase in development process. The end aim is to deliver a high-quality product that people can utilize.  While for STLC, the test plan comes with criteria and benchmarks to meet the standards. It basically pulls off the requirements and concentrates on product testing. There are entry and exit criteria involved when you test a specific test case. A product of the SDLC process necessarily requires an understanding of the product’s development needs. They need to ensure that it performs as anticipated. The major difference is after the SDLC phases are finished, the STLC phases begin. The ultimate aim is to discover flaws in the product and submit them to the development team so they can be fixed.

4. Role of the STLC in the SDLC

The term “Software Testing Life Cycle” is used to describe an iterative procedure for ensuring that quality standards are satisfied. Every step of the STLC process is methodically deliberated upon and executed. The objectives and outputs of each stage vary. Although the specific phases of STLC may vary among businesses, the core concepts are universal.

We may infer that STLC contains steps like strategy, administration, execution, standardization, and so on since we can describe it as a collection of testing measures. All of this suggests that the STLC is necessary not just for testing the developed product but also for the following:

  • Taking care of its flaws at the beginning when doing so will yield the greatest returns.
  • Enhancing the openness and reliability of the SDLC; Having complete command over the quality of the product at all times.
  • Learn how the Agile, Scrum, SAFe, etc., testing life cycle affects implementation.
  • Meeting the needs of both the customer and the end users with a high-quality end result.

What the STLC does for the SDLC:

Although the Software Development Life Cycle and the Software Testing Life Cycle are inextricably intertwined, as was previously said, they focus on distinct aspects of the same overarching goal:

  • Figuring out what has to be done and creating the promised features (as for the SDLC).
  • Checking in on the effectiveness of the developed functionality, aiding the customer and the development team, and reviewing goals (as for the STLC).
  • The end game is 100% customer approval and perfect scores in the verification and validation phases.

Incorporating an STLC allows groups to:

  • Increase consistency and efficiency in the agile testing process through refinement.
  • Set down your objectives and timeline for each part of the project.
  • Restriction of testing time might help you find bugs faster in your project.
  • Insist on successful testing of each component before moving on to the next.
  • Check to see if the needs of the project have been fulfilled.
  • In a Software Testing Life Cycle structure, you will often see the following steps taken:
  • System requirements analysis for clients and other interested parties.
  • The development of a traceability matrix (a technique for analyzing and evaluating a project’s effectiveness by contrasting needs with capabilities).
  • Test cases for each feature should be identified, together with the testing methods and types that will be used.
  • List desired characteristics in order of importance.
  • Automation potential analysis.
  • Acquiring a sense of the surrounding world through identification.

STLC’s perks include, among others:

  • The practice of testing being moved to later stages of product creation. This guarantees that useful tests are created, and that feature specifications are crystal clear.
  • Having a systematic approach to testing helps teams find and fix problems more quickly.

Since testing is conducted according to clearly defined phases and objectives, project development can be monitored more closely.

5. What Are the Entry and Exit Criteria for Testing Life Cycle?

The different phases of a software testing life cycle (STLC) come with entry criteria or exit criteria. TAnd this means that any tester who is working on a test case must complete it in the pre-defined time. Besides this, the test also has to maintain the functionality and quality of the product. To make this concept clear, let’s understand both entry criteria and exit criteria.

What Are the Entry and Exit Criteria for Testing Life Cycle?

The 6 phases of the Software Testing Life Cycle are as follows:

  • Requirement Analysis
  • Test Planning
  • Test Case Development
  • Test Environment Setup
  • Test Execution
  • Test Cycle Closure
Entry and Exit Criteria

The stages mentioned below have definite Entry and Exit criteria, Activities & Deliverables associated with them. All the required documents that need to be accomplished before starting the testing phase are given in the Entry Criteria. When it comes to Exit Criteria, it defines all the documents that must be completed before testing can be concluded.

Every phase consists of Entry and Exit Criteria which ideally means that we cannot start the next stage until the Exit criteria for the previous stage are accomplished. But basically, this is not always possible.

5.1 Entry Criteria

Entry criteria is a phase that means that the testing team needs to take care of it before they start the testing process. This phase comes with requirements that are mandatory to cross off. Basically, it shows the conditions and activities that are present before STLC and they need to be fulfilled. 

5.2 Exit Criteria

Exit criteria is a phase that needs to be taken care of after the completion of the testing process. This means that it specifies some actions and requirements to be crossed off the task list in order to complete the STLC. Before that, the testing may come to a halt. Basically, exit criteria include high-quality defect identification that needs to be fixed right away to have a perfectly successful STLC.

6. Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC) Phases

Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC) Phases

6.1 Requirement Analysis

Software Requirement Analysis

The first phase of STLC is requirement analysis. The accessible specifications and requirements must be seen, studied, and analyzed by testing team. The test case development phase needs must be crystal clear to meet the test closure report and standards. 

In this requirement analysis phase, you will start by feeding them with input data and some needs to create results. These are requirements that can be tested. Testers examine both the functional and non-functional requirements. If they follow that, they must choose testable requirements. In this phase itself, you need to understand whether your app is in an ideal state or not. Then check the feasibility with automated testing or manual testing, whichever is suitable as per the plan.

Entry criteria: 

The software requirement specification (SRS) is a task for the requirements phase. The analysis of testing needs should begin with a review flaws document. The testing methodology, test settings, and test items are all analyzed by the quality assurance team. Functional and non-functional requirements call for different types of testing. We also need a report detailing the architecture of our apps and programs.

Exit criteria: 

A requirement traceability matrix (RTM) is the document that must be completed as part of the requirement analysis phase’s final exit criteria. When testing is complete, the RTM document guarantees that all requirements have been verified using test cases.

Activities to consider during the phase

  • Analysis of the software requirements specification (SRS) and associated paperwork.
  • Stakeholder interviews for more information.
  • Locating any confusing or contradictory criteria.
  • Finding out what has to be done that hasn’t been done yet.
  • Locating any problems that might arise during testing and documenting them.

Deliverables of Requirement Analysis Testing

  • RTM
  • Report on the Potential of Automation

Once you get the requirements clear, it is time to move on the test plan. 

6.2 Test Planning

The QA team process  the second phase, test planning, after assessing all of the essential testing requirements. After gaining a thorough grasp of the product domain, they define the scope and objectives.

Steps to Develop a Test Plan

The team then creates a test plan by analyzing the risks and defining time schedules and testing environments. You must finalize the software testing tools and assign the roles and duties to the resources.  Now, they can manage the whole testing process in a single test plan document that will describe the agenda of each test scenario and check if the test results of each part are met or not in the software testing process.

Entry criteria: 

The requirements document and the requirements traceability matrix will serve as entrance criteria for the test planning phase. It is also necessary to have a test automation feasibility report.

Exit criteria: 

Documents such as the “test plan,” “test strategy,” “test effort for time and cost,” and “resource planning” serve as “exit criteria.”

Activities to consider during the phase

  • Defining the goals and parameters of the test.
  • Choosing testing approaches and procedures is part of developing a test strategy.
  • Locating the required testing infrastructure.
  • Determining what tests will be run and what data will be utilized for those tests.
  • Compute how long and how much it will cost to conduct tests.
  • The testing milestones and deliverables must be determined.
  • Determining who does what on the testing team.
  • Approval of the test strategy following review.

Deliverables of Test Planning

  • Test strategy and plan
  • Work Effort Documentation

6.3 Test Case Development

Testers create and develop test cases based on the test plan. These test cases should be comprehensive and cover almost all conceivable scenarios. The business must be able to prioritize these test cases by determining which are the most prevalent and which would have the most impact on the product. In the documentation step, the defined requirements are verified and validated. The validation and verification process checks all the required sequences, updates define the pipeline of how the test team will interact. Then, based on test cases , they apply the testing strategies.

Entry criteria: 

The test plan and test strategy document, which have been properly completed, are the admission criteria for the test case development or test design phase. In addition to allocating the resources, the resource planning document will also be revised. A report analyzing the results of automated tests will also be generated.

Exit criteria: 

A starting point is established after reviewing and analyzing all test cases and test scripts.

Activities to consider during the phase

  • Produce test scripts and test cases.
  • Take a look at the test cases and scripts you have so far.
  • If a Test Environment can be utilized, generate test data.

Deliverables of Test Case Development

  • Test cases/scripts
  • Test results

6.4 Test Environment Setup

For executing approved test cases, testing activities require specific environmental elements, such as servers, frameworks, hardware, and software. The major components of the test environment phase include software and hardware configuration, as well as test data preparation. 

Test Environment Setup

The test team studies all the requirements to perform testing. Later they will provide problem-reporting tools to your testers. The testing environment details will showcase the type of configuration setup each case will require.

Entry criteria: 

The entrance criteria for this phase include the test plan, smoke test cases, and test data details. During this stage, documents for the application’s layout and the system’s architecture are drafted.

Exit criteria: 

Smoke test results and an test environment setup document with current test data are needed before proceeding to the next phase.

Activities to consider during the phase

  • Test data should be produced.
  • A test environment checklist should be made, and the required hardware and software must be acquired.
  • The network infrastructure and a staging server are now ready for use.
  • The steps required to set up and manage a test environment are described in detail.
  • Smoke tests are performed to ensure that the environment is prepared.

Deliverables of Test Environment Setup

  • The setting is prepared, and test data is in place.
  • Smoke Test Results.

6.5  Test Execution


When the test team has completed all of the preceding steps, the application is ready for testing. The testers carry out test cases following the test plan. They also report problems by identifying, detecting, and logging flaws. The testing team is also in charge of comparing predicted results to actual results. If any issues are discovered, they must record them in order and forward them to the development teams for a fix. Regression testing ensures that the software or application continues to function even after the modification. After a problem is repaired, retest the entire product. It’s also advised to utilize test automation scripts or automated testing tools because the same tests must be run again after each change and release.

Entry criteria: 

The test environment setup document, test cases document, test plan document, and test data document are the entrance criteria for the text implementation phase. There are three types of test reports produced: unit, integration, and system.

Exit criteria: 

Once the execution is complete, a test execution report is written, and the development team is given a full defect report that includes information about the closed flaws, the test cases utilized, and the found problems. 

Activities to consider during the phase

  • Test cases are run in accordance with the test plan.
  • Examining the actual results vs the predicted ones.
  • Finding and identifying problems.
  • Noting problems and sending a report of any bugs discovered.
  • Fixing bugs and upgrading the requirements traceability matrix.
  • Testing again once an issue has been fixed by the development team.
  • Regression testing (if needed).
  • Monitoring a problem until it is resolved.

Deliverables of Test Execution Phase

  • Finalized RTM with the status of the execution.
  • Result updates for all test scenarios.
  • Reported Defects

6.6 Test Cycle Closure

Test Closure

This last phase of this cycle is to bring test closure to the test execution phase where we prepare a test closure report. The test closing phase begins when the test execution is completed and the final product is delivered. The QA team examines the test findings and confers with the rest of the team. Product quality, test coverage, and project cost are among the key criteria they evaluate. If there is a difference between the estimated and actual numbers then the tester has to go back to the procedures and check, analyze and correct them.

Entry criteria: 

The entrance criteria for this last stage will be test execution and problem reports.

Exit criteria: 

The test metrics report and the test closure report must be authorized by the customer as part of the final phase’s exit criteria.

Activities to consider during the phase

  • Time, Test service, expense, the software, important Business goals, and quality should all be considered when you analyze the criteria for cycle completion.
  • Create test metrics using the aforementioned criteria.
  • Record any insights gained from working on the project.
  • Finish the test report.
  • Updating the work’s caliber to the client in both qualitative and quantitative terms.
  • The examination of test results to determine the prevalence of various types and levels of flaws.

Deliverables of Test Cycle Closure

  • Test Closure report
  • Test metrics

7. Best Practices of Software Testing Life Cycle

Best Practices of Software Testing Life Cycle

Here are some best practices followed in the Software Testing Life Cycle:

  • User feedback is used to identify critical business processes which cannot be overlooked.
  • Testing is effectively planned and performed to make sure that the software meets all user requirements.
  • While deciding the testing scope, make sure to consult with important business users.
  • Specify the common challenges and faults that might negatively affect the user experience.
  • It consumes more than half of the user’s time and resources as it ensures that the testing strategy covers testing for those critical business operations.

8. STLC Phases In Tabular Form

STLS Phase Entry Criteria Exit Criteria Deliverables
Requirement Analysis
  • Specification of both required and non-required features.
  • Established standards for performance.
  • The documentation of the application’s architecture.
  • Authorization to use requirement traceability matrix signed.
  • Client-approved feasibility report for automating tests.
  • Traceability matrix for requirements.
  • Review the potential of automation.
Test Planning
  • Documentation of the objectives.
  • Traceability matrix for requirements.
  • Proof of concept for automated testing.
  • Validated test procedures and plans.
  • Accepted paperwork for work effort estimation.
  • Documentation of the test strategy and plan.
  • Documentation of work effort estimate.
Test Case Development
  • Documentation of the testing objectives.
  • Test strategy and requirement tracing matrix.
  • Automation analysis report.
  • Examined and authorized the test cases and automation scripts.
  • Reviewed and signed data for tests.
  • Test cases and scripts.
  • Test results.
Test Environment Setup
  • The written record of a system’s design and architecture.
  • Environment setup plan.
  • The configuration of the working environment conforms to the plan and the criteria.
  • Completed test data setup.
  • Successful smoke test.
  • Test data set and ready environment.
  • Smoke test results.
Test Execution
  • Traceability matrix for basic requirements.
  • Test plan.
  • Test case and scripts.
  • The environment for testing.
  • Completed test data setup.
  • Integration and Unit test reports.
  • Finished all scheduled tests.
  • Reported and tracked defects until resolution.
  • Complete tracing matrix of requirements and execution status.
  • Upgraded test instances and their outcomes.
  • Reported defects.
Test Cycle Closure
  • Finished testing.
  • Test outcomes.
  • Logs of available defects.
  • Client-approved test completion report.
  • Test completion results.
  • Test metric values.

9. Conclusion

So that’s it for the blog. In this post, we have seen how STLC works. We have given a comprehensive overview of how the software testing life cycle is different from software development life cycle, what is the difference, and what is its agenda. There are multiple types of software testing services that one can perform as a business and we know which one to choose for your ideal application. A good testing method boosts business results and thus, we highly advise businesses to keep their eyes on the testing while it’s sure they will get profitable results with STLC.

Itesh Sharma

Itesh Sharma is core member of Sales Department at TatvaSoft. He has got more than 6 years of experience in handling the task related to Customer Management and Project Management. Apart from his profession he also has keen interest in sharing the insight on different methodologies of software development.


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    1. Orion

      The software testing life cycle is a part of the software development life cycle. Which involves requirement analysis, test planning, test case development, test environment setup, test execution, and test cycle closure that ensure the software is thoroughly tested before release. Thank you for sharing this informative article with valuable resources. Sure, I will implement these practices in my upcoming project.  

    2. Raj Joshi

      Great article! This article provides an overview of the software testing life cycle. It covers the different types of tests that can be performed, and provides tips for choosing the right software testing tools and techniques for a software product.

    3. Ankit Maurya

      Nice way to represent this article, I really appreciate it. But I would like to suggest that if you want to make it even better, you could provide more details on the following: - Types of software testing - Writing of test cases - Some important testing tools - And many more