What’s Your Test Plan?

I ran across a post on upgrading a SQL Server instance, where the original poster (OP) was asking about a document to upgrade from SQL Server 2008 to 2014. That’s a big ask, especially as not many documents tend to be written to go across three versions. The official ones, or the people that document well, tend to upgrade every version, and so they have a document to go from 2008 to R2, and from R2 to 2012, etc. However, given the pace of Microsoft releasing things, perhaps we ought to build a document and checklist across every 2-3 versions since many people may be upgrading from 2005/2008 to 2014 (or soon, 2016).

Apart from having the document, one of the questions was a list of what to test. That struck me, as I’m big on testing, and have tried to keep comprehensive plans when I had important systems. However, many of you might be like me and don’t consider most systems to be “important”. For those systems, a patch, a Service Pack, an application upgrade was really tested by applying the change to a test server and asking users to see if they could use the application. I’m not confident that there was any sort of comprehensive look at the system in these cases, but this system worked most of the time.

There were some instances that we deemed important, usually measured as such because a failure would mean some high level manager would call my manager’s boss and smelly things would slide in my direction. In those cases, we had a list of the functions and processes that needed to work. These could be application functions, queries, ETL packages, reports, or anything that would cause a user to complain. This list became our test plan, and it was kept up to date. Usually back dated, since we weren’t sure what new things were important until they failed for some reason, but once we received a ticket on an item, we added it to our list. We went through the entire list for upgrades, ensuring each item worked.

I’m wondering, do many of you have a test plan for your systems? Any system? It doesn’t matter if it’s automated or manual, but if you had to patch/upgrade instance X, are there a list of things you’d verify? Or is the system not that important, so you’d just make sure the database service was running? Let us know what your test plans look like.

Steve Jones

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