Over much of my research I found that a lot of people, to this day use excel for their test plans. There are articles posted all over about how to best use excel. For example this link, talks about how to utilize excel when writing your test plan, and I have attached a template I found on that site that utilizes excel.
So why is excel so widely used? Well, it is simple and versatile. Each tester has their own ways of doing things and excel allows everyone to have a different set up. When I looked at other testing software such as Test link which is widely used and open sourced test plan software. In the end it took me over an hour to set everything up without a tutorial. It is overly complicated, that might be why it is not used as widely as excel. Another one, I am excited to see how it grows, is Overlook. However, the main page currently says it best "Really Simple Software Test Plan". It is very basic, but the reason I am excited about it is because it was recently bought by Crowd Soured Testing, and they told me they would be working on integrating it with another new site of theirs, Damn Bugs. Plus they work with the people on their site to help make the best product. I will go over Overlook and Damn bugs at a later time though when I go over free sites that can be of uses to a QA professional.
The problem lies in the software for test plans, it is either not versatile enough, or it is too simple. Excel allows the test plan to be any type. What needs to be made, and you can find within software companies who make their own, is a system that has an integrated test plan, and bug tracking system. This allows for when something is failed, there is a bug, and it is tracked immediately. There are paid systems out there that are good, but again not everyone is going to fork that much money into QA. So in the end, excel just works where others fail.
Also remember that test plans aren't everything and Exploratory Testing is needed in conjunction with your test plans.
QA Hipster is a Quality Assurance Technical Lead for an software company, mostly working with Macs. I have been in the field since September 2013, and have a bachelor's degree in Management Information Services. I started my studies at Iowa State in Software Engineering. I have been working on moving my company forward with the latest QA techniques.