← Back to QA Wiki

Definition of Entry Criteria

In software testing, Entry Criteria refer to the set of predefined conditions or requirements that must be met before a particular test phase can begin. These conditions ensure that testing is conducted in a structured manner and that the process is initiated only when the prerequisites are in place. Entry Criteria can encompass various aspects, such as the availability of the test environment, the readiness of test tools and test data, the completion of previous phases, or the sign-off of certain documents. Establishing clear Entry Criteria helps in avoiding premature testing, ensuring that resources are utilized efficiently, and maintaining the quality and effectiveness of the testing process.
Thank you!
Was this helpful?

Questions about Entry Criteria?

Basics and Importance

  • What is entry criteria in software testing?

    Entry criteria serve as a predefined set of conditions that must be met before testing activities can commence. These conditions ensure that testing begins with a stable and viable baseline, reducing the risk of encountering critical issues during the test execution phase that could invalidate test results or lead to wasted effort.

    In defining entry criteria, stakeholders typically consider factors such as the readiness of the test environment, the availability and stability of the test item, the completion of prerequisite steps like unit or integration testing, and the establishment of baseline documentation. It's often the responsibility of the project manager or quality assurance lead to outline these criteria, with input from developers, testers, and other stakeholders.

    When applying entry criteria, test automation engineers should verify that each condition is satisfied before proceeding. This might involve checks like ensuring the software build is deployed correctly, the test data is prepared, and all necessary tools and resources are in place.

    Adjustments to entry criteria may occur as the project evolves, particularly if there are changes in scope or unforeseen challenges. However, any modifications should be agreed upon by the relevant stakeholders to maintain the integrity of the testing process.

    While entry criteria focus on the start of testing, they are intrinsically linked to exit criteria, which define when testing should conclude. Together, they frame the testing lifecycle, guiding both the initiation and the closure of test activities, and ensuring alignment with the overall test strategy and project goals.

  • Why is entry criteria important in the testing process?

    Entry criteria serve as a gatekeeper to ensure that testing begins only when the application is ready and stable enough for the process. This prevents wasted effort on testing software that is not yet mature enough to yield meaningful results. By adhering to entry criteria, teams can avoid the inefficiency of reporting issues that would be resolved by completing development or configuration tasks that are already known and planned.

    Moreover, entry criteria help in risk management by ensuring that high-risk areas are addressed before testing commences. This can include having the right environments set up, dependencies resolved, and critical functionality implemented. It ensures that the test team has everything they need to execute tests effectively, which in turn reduces the likelihood of discovering late-stage defects that are costly to fix.

    In agile environments, where changes are frequent and iterations are rapid, entry criteria provide a consistent benchmark for readiness across iterations. This consistency is crucial for maintaining the pace of delivery without compromising on quality.

    Lastly, entry criteria are a communication tool between developers, testers, and stakeholders. They set clear expectations for what must be in place before testing can proceed, which helps in aligning the team's efforts and avoiding misunderstandings that can lead to delays or quality issues.

  • How does entry criteria contribute to the overall quality of the software product?

    Entry criteria ensure that software testing begins only when the product reaches a defined level of maturity. This contributes to the overall quality by:

    • Preventing premature testing, which can lead to wasted effort on unstable builds.
    • Ensuring a stable environment and baseline for testing, which leads to more reliable and consistent test results.
    • Facilitating effective resource allocation, as testing resources are used efficiently on builds that are ready for testing.
    • Reducing the risk of defects slipping through due to testing on an incomplete or unstable product.
    • Aligning with project milestones, which helps in tracking progress against the planned schedule and quality objectives.

    By adhering to entry criteria, test automation engineers can focus on delivering high-quality test results that are reflective of the product's true state, leading to better-informed decisions about the product's readiness for release.

Components and Elements

  • What are the key components of entry criteria?

    Key components of entry criteria typically include:

    • Test Environment Readiness: Availability and configuration of the test environment where automation will run.
    • Test Data Availability: Access to necessary data sets for test execution.
    • Stable Build: A sufficiently stable software build that has passed smoke testing.
    • Requirement Clarity: Well-defined and agreed-upon requirements that tests are based on.
    • Test Case Preparation: Completion of test case design and review for the features to be tested.
    • Tool Availability: Access to and proper setup of required test automation tools and frameworks.
    • Resource Allocation: Assignment of personnel with the necessary skills for test execution and analysis.
    • Risk Assessment: Identification and evaluation of risks that could impact testing.
    • Documentation: Availability of necessary documentation, including test plans and test cases.
    • Baseline Metrics: Establishment of baseline metrics for comparison and evaluation of test results.

    These components ensure that testing begins with a clear understanding of what will be tested, how it will be tested, and the expected outcomes, thus facilitating a smooth and effective test automation process.

  • How is entry criteria defined and who defines it?

    Entry criteria are typically defined by a collaborative effort involving key stakeholders such as test managers, project managers, developers, and business analysts. The definition process is often guided by the project's scope, objectives, and constraints.

    The test lead or test manager usually takes the initiative to draft the entry criteria, leveraging their understanding of the testing requirements and the project's context. They will consider factors such as the readiness of the test environment, availability of test data, completion of feature development, and stability of the build.

    Once a draft is prepared, it's reviewed and refined through discussions with the development team to ensure technical feasibility, and with business stakeholders to align with business needs and risk tolerance. This collaborative approach ensures that the entry criteria are realistic and agreed upon by all parties involved.

    In some cases, especially in agile environments, the product owner may also play a significant role in defining entry criteria, particularly when the criteria are closely related to user stories or acceptance criteria.

    The final set of entry criteria is then documented, often as part of the test plan, and serves as a checkpoint before formal testing begins. It's essential that these criteria are clear, measurable, and achievable to prevent misunderstandings and ensure a smooth transition into the testing phase.

  • What elements should be considered when setting the entry criteria?

    When setting entry criteria for software test automation, consider the following elements:

    • Test Environment Readiness: Ensure that the test environment closely mirrors the production environment and is fully configured with necessary data, services, and network settings.

    • Build Stability: The application build should be stable enough for automation, with critical functionalities working as expected to avoid false negatives due to application issues.

    • Test Data Availability: Adequate test data should be in place to cover various test scenarios. This includes both static data and data generated dynamically during test execution.

    • Dependency Resolution: All external dependencies, such as third-party services or APIs, should be available and functioning as required for testing.

    • Test Case Readiness: Automated test cases should be reviewed, updated, and prioritized based on the scope of the release. They should be in a state that allows for immediate execution.

    • Resource Availability: Ensure that the necessary hardware, software, and human resources are available and allocated for the testing phase.

    • Documentation: Relevant documentation, such as requirement specifications and design documents, should be complete and accessible to the test team.

    • Tool Setup: Automation tools and frameworks should be configured correctly, including any required plugins or extensions.

    • Baseline Performance: Establish a performance baseline if performance testing is part of the criteria, to compare against as changes are made.

    • Compliance and Security: Verify that the application meets any necessary compliance standards and security requirements before testing begins.

    • Risk Assessment: Conduct a risk assessment to identify any potential issues that could impact the testing phase, and have mitigation strategies in place.

    Remember, entry criteria should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) to ensure a clear and efficient testing process.

Application and Usage

  • How is entry criteria applied in the testing process?

    Applying entry criteria in the testing process ensures that testing begins only when certain predefined conditions are met. This gatekeeping mechanism is crucial for maintaining the integrity and efficiency of the test cycle.

    To apply entry criteria:

    1. Review the criteria before test initiation to confirm all conditions are satisfied. This includes availability of testable code, test environment readiness, test data setup, and completion of prior development milestones.

    2. Checklist verification is often used. Testers go through a list of entry criteria items, marking each as met or unmet. Only when all items are checked as met does testing proceed.

    3. Automate the verification where possible. For instance, scripts can be used to validate environment setup or availability of test data.

    4. Hold a kick-off meeting with stakeholders to discuss the status of entry criteria. This ensures transparency and agreement on the readiness for testing.

    5. Document the fulfillment of entry criteria in test plans or test readiness reports. This serves as a formal record that the project is ready for testing.

    6. Integrate with test management tools to track and enforce entry criteria. Many tools allow for setting up gates that must be passed before the next phase begins.

    7. Reassess continuously during the test phase. If changes in the project scope or environment occur, re-evaluate the entry criteria to ensure they are still met.

    In essence, entry criteria are applied as a precondition check to promote structured and effective testing, preventing premature test execution and potential rework.

  • What are some examples of entry criteria in real-world software testing scenarios?

    Examples of entry criteria in real-world software testing scenarios include:

    • Code Completeness: All features scheduled for the current release must be fully implemented and merged into the main branch.
    • Code Review: All new code changes have undergone peer review and have been approved.
    • Unit Testing: Unit tests cover a predefined percentage of the codebase and all tests pass successfully.
    • Integration Testing: Key integrations with external systems have been tested and verified.
    • Documentation: Relevant documentation, such as feature descriptions and usage instructions, is complete and available.
    • Test Environment: A stable test environment that mirrors production is set up and available for use.
    • Test Data: Test data required for automated tests is prepared and loaded into the test environment.
    • Build Stability: The latest build is stable with no critical bugs that prevent application startup or basic functionality.
    • Performance Criteria: The application meets minimum performance benchmarks in terms of load times and responsiveness.
    • Security Clearance: Any new code complies with security standards and has passed a security audit if necessary.
    • Dependencies: All external dependencies, such as third-party services or libraries, are available and functioning as expected.
    • Resource Availability: Necessary resources, including test automation engineers and necessary hardware, are allocated and available for the testing phase.

    These criteria ensure that testing begins with a solid foundation, reducing the likelihood of encountering blockers that could invalidate test results or lead to wasted effort.

  • How can entry criteria be adjusted or modified during the testing process?

    Adjusting entry criteria during the testing process is sometimes necessary to accommodate changes in project scope, unforeseen challenges, or new information. To modify entry criteria:

    • Conduct a risk assessment: Evaluate the impact of changes on the project's risk profile. Adjust criteria to mitigate new risks.
    • Collaborate with stakeholders: Discuss potential adjustments with the team, including developers, project managers, and business analysts, to ensure alignment.
    • Review test plan: Ensure that the modified entry criteria align with the existing test plan or update the test plan accordingly.
    • Update documentation: Reflect changes in all relevant documentation to maintain transparency and traceability.
    • Communicate changes: Clearly inform all team members of the updated criteria to avoid confusion during test execution.
    • Re-evaluate resource allocation: Adjust staffing and tooling as needed to meet the new criteria.

    Example modification in code:

    interface EntryCriteria {
      testEnvironmentReady: boolean;
      testCasesReviewed: boolean;
      // Additional criteria...
    let currentCriteria: EntryCriteria = {
      testEnvironmentReady: true,
      testCasesReviewed: true,
      // Additional criteria set to initial values...
    function updateEntryCriteria(criteria: Partial<EntryCriteria>) {
      currentCriteria = { ...currentCriteria, ...criteria };
    // Adjusting criteria during the process
    updateEntryCriteria({ testEnvironmentReady: false }); // Reflects a change in test environment readiness

    Remember, changes to entry criteria should be justified, documented, and communicated to maintain the integrity of the testing process.

Relationship with Other Testing Concepts

  • How does entry criteria relate to exit criteria in software testing?

    Entry criteria and exit criteria in software testing are complementary concepts that define the boundaries of the testing phase. While entry criteria must be met before testing begins, exit criteria specify the conditions that must be satisfied to conclude testing activities.

    The relationship between the two lies in their role as quality gates. Entry criteria ensure that testing starts with a stable and testable build, while exit criteria confirm that the software meets the required quality standards before it's released or moved to the next phase of development.

    In practice, exit criteria often include successful completion of test cases that were defined as part of the entry criteria. For instance, if the entry criteria stipulate a certain level of code coverage, the exit criteria might require that this coverage has been achieved without critical defects.

    Both sets of criteria are defined by the project stakeholders, typically during the test planning phase, and are based on the project's risk assessment, objectives, and standards. They are dynamic and can be revisited as the project evolves.

    To ensure a smooth transition from the start to the end of the testing phase, both entry and exit criteria should be clearly defined, agreed upon by all stakeholders, and documented. This alignment helps in measuring the progress and quality of the testing effort, facilitating a more structured and predictable release process.

  • What is the relationship between entry criteria and test planning?

    The relationship between entry criteria and test planning is foundational to the structure and success of the testing phase. Entry criteria serve as the preconditions that must be met before testing can commence, thus directly influencing the scope and schedule of the test plan.

    In test planning, entry criteria are used to:

    • Define the baseline for when test execution should start, ensuring that testing begins only when the software is ready and stable enough for an effective testing cycle.
    • Guide resource allocation, as the fulfillment of entry criteria can signal the need for specific tools, environments, or personnel to be available.
    • Mitigate risks by preventing premature testing, which can lead to wasted effort and resources on defects related to unready features or unstable builds.
    • Facilitate communication among stakeholders by providing clear, agreed-upon benchmarks for progress, which are essential for coordinating activities and expectations.

    During the test planning phase, the criteria are integrated into the plan to establish clear milestones and checkpoints. This integration helps ensure that the testing team has a clear understanding of when to proceed with testing activities and when to hold, pending the satisfaction of the entry conditions.

    In summary, entry criteria are integral to test planning as they set the stage for a structured and efficient testing process, ensuring that testing efforts are aligned with the readiness of the software and project objectives.

  • How does entry criteria influence the test execution process?

    Entry criteria serve as a gatekeeper for test execution, ensuring that testing only commences when predefined conditions are met. This directly influences the test execution process by:

    • Determining readiness: Tests are only initiated when the software build is stable and has met the minimum quality threshold, preventing wasted effort on premature or unstable builds.
    • Guiding resource allocation: By setting clear entry points, teams can efficiently allocate resources, such as personnel and test environments, at the right time.
    • Streamlining workflows: Entry criteria help in sequencing test activities, ensuring that dependencies are resolved before testing begins.
    • Mitigating risks: By adhering to entry criteria, teams can avoid the risks associated with testing incomplete features or those with known critical issues.
    • Facilitating automation: For automated tests, entry criteria can be integrated into CI/CD pipelines to trigger test suites automatically when conditions are satisfied.

    In practice, entry criteria might include conditions such as:

    allFeaturesImplemented = true;
    codeReviewed = true;
    unitTestsPassed = true;

    If these conditions evaluate to true, the automated test suite proceeds; otherwise, execution is delayed until the criteria are fulfilled. Adjustments to entry criteria during the test cycle can recalibrate the focus of testing efforts in response to changing project dynamics or newly discovered information.

AboutQuestionsDiscord ForumBrowser ExtensionTagsQA Jobs

Rayrun is a community for QA engineers. I am constantly looking for new ways to add value to people learning Playwright and other browser automation frameworks. If you have feedback, email luc@ray.run.