Data center test writing: overview

DellData center test writing - called script writing - can have some characteristics that distinguish it from building commissioning test writing: 

  • Presentation - tests are often done in Excel, in columns, utilizing a spreadsheet format
  • Organization - instructions are explicit, tests are sequential, each action is numbered
  • Approach - commands are called out, testing teams are large, there are frequent meetings, heavy coordination 


While test writers in the commercial building/school markets may also utilize columns or Excel (versus MS Word) in their test writing, data center tests often utilize a specific style, as shown below. The column headings are nearly always the same, although the order/quantity of the columns may differ slightly. In data center testing, tests are referred to as "Scripts."


In mission critical facilities the sequence of testing can be vitally important. In a school commissioning project, it might not be at all important if the rooftop units get tested before or after the lighting controls; it might not matter if the unit start/stop verification is tested before the BMS input point verifications. While that can also be true at various phases of data center testing, there are stages of testing when the order becomes vital. Integrated and Pull-the-Plug tests (see below) are examples of when strict adherence to the sequencing of the tests themselves becomes important. 

  • Each test is titled and/or numbered
  • Each step of the test is numbered
  • Steps are called out
  • All lead personnel have up-to-date copies of the scripts
  • All participants are aware of what step the team is actively testing at any given moment
  • Each step of the test has a written action, accompanied by a written expected response
  • Lead members of the testing team sign-off and date stamp each step or series of steps 


Testing is formal and involves the cooperation of a large team, including the GC/CM, various subcontractors, O&M personnel and designers. Coordination occurs constantly throughout the process. 

  • The Commissioning Authority leads the team
  • Senior team members may be assigned to or stationed in various parts of the building
  • Walkie-talkies are used extensively
  • One team member is often assigned the responsibility of calling out an instant "red alert" or "All Stop" command. An "All Hands" command is issued for an instant meeting, with the meeting area coordinated in advance. 
  • In the case of an "All Stop" command, testing immediately ceases and any emergency contingency plans can be implemented 

Levels of Testing 

Data center commissioning is often characterized as having different phases or "levels." An example of how a particular project team may classify various levels could be:

Level 1 Testing - testing performed by manufacturers on their own equipment, using their own test methods and forms - approved/reviewed by the Commissioning Authority - perhaps including factory visits

Level 2 Testing - field testing of installed equipment, performed by manufacturers, contractors or sub-contractors, using their own methods and forms - approved/reviewed by the Commissioning Authority

Level 3 Testing - pre-functional, functional testing and systems testing, performed by the Commissioning Authority 

Level 4 Testing - Integrated Tests, performed by the Commissioning Authority, verifying the cross-relationship of various systems

Level 5 Testing - Pull-the-Plug Tests, performed by the Commissioning Authority