Alternatives to Writing Detailed Test Cases

Over the last two decades, we have witnessed considerable advancements in software testing. While many things have changed, we are yet to witness improvement in a few areas. One such area is Test Documentation. One thing that product teams deliberate on is testing via documented test cases is traceable. While this is true to some extent, but on the flip side, it has a few after-effects like:

    1. When a test can be carried out with limited or specific information, it is quite time-consuming to write detailed steps for a test case.
    2. Updating outdated test cases can be time-consuming.
    3. When the testers start focusing on documentation, they are time-deprived to think about other important areas of testing like – creating more test ideas or giving more coverage.
    4. It is cumbersome to go through all the detailed steps to review the test cases.

Let us understand these better by taking an example.

A test case for login functionality might look like this:

Now here are a few alternatives that can be used in place of test cases. These are comprehensive and time-saving too.

Mind Maps

When we design a mind map for login functionality, it looks something like this:

Mind maps are remarkable note-taking tools that cater to test documentation. The visual representation feature of the tool is simple and easy to use and conveys a lot about coverage. It is also flexible to copy-paste any reusable nodes. Jira has already incorporated the mind map feature associated with a ticket.


A checklist will look like this:

Checklists are helpful during regression testing and are best suited to draft traceable test ideas on known functionality/regression areas. Imagine a bug fix is done and the basic tests are carried out by a developer before deploying a QA environment for further testing. A checklist of tests can be carried out by developers before they are shipped for a further level of testing.

Testers in the QA environment can then execute another set of checklists on the impacted areas while thoroughly testing the fix.

There are numerous mind mapping tools that include the feature of exporting the map to a checklist.

Session Charters

A session-based testing charter will look like:

Session-based test management
is another comprehensive exploratory way of performing testing, where a mission statement is provided to the tester(s) to be achieved in a timeboxed session. Testers take notes while they explore, observe, and analyze the product. Outcomes within the notes could be questions, bugs, interesting behaviors that need not necessarily be termed as bugs, any inputs to perform further level testing.

A list of these statements can serve as an alternative to test cases. With session-based testing, the sessions may not be repeatable however, it gives freedom to a tester to explore but stick to the objective/charter set for the session. Now sometimes this can turn out to be a disadvantage if one is focusing on recurrence.

Finally, it is up to the product owners to investigate the level of details on each of these available alternatives and choose the appropriate method applicable at the level of testing to improve efficiencies.

Still have questions or looking for further assistance, contact us and our experts will guide you to the right path.

By: Balaji Ponnada