The base prerequisites for performance testing include understanding the application under test, identifying performance requirements such as response time, normal and peak load, common traffic patterns, and expected or required uptime. Once this preparation has been finished, the next step is to build a performance testing environment which is as close to the production environment as possible. With key requirements identified, the performance test need needs to select a performance testing tool (or sometimes a suite of tools). Tool selection can be a challenging task, because there are so many options to weigh. Cost generally plays a significant factor, but at times a low dollar cost (for instance, open-source performance tools) can mask an incredibly high cost of familiarization and deployment. Another critical factor is the ability of the tool to generate the amount and type of load required in the performance test. The snazziest tool in the world is worthless if it can't mimic a real-world load scenario.
In their book "Software Testing Practice: Test Management," Spillner, Rossner, Winter, and Linz dedicate an entire chapter to a heavily analytical approach to tools selection. This book is very detailed, heavy reading, and not for the faint-hearted, but I believe this chapter is a compelling reason to purchase the book. This chapter might aid you in selecting your performance tool.
In terms of checklists for performance testing, there isn't one particular checklist per say, just like there isn't one particular strategy for performance testing. You need to develop the checklist which best applies to you. That having been said, I can refer you to a couple of sources for performance test best-practices. First, read the free e-book available on CodePlex.com titled "Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications" (http://www.codeplex.com/perftesting) This book is well written, although I argue the author breaks performance testing tasks into too many categories. (Note that while the guide emphasizes web application performance testing, the techniques and approaches are applicable in every performance testing project).
Another great source for information on performance testing is searchsoftwarequality.com's own software testing expert, Scott Barber. Scott has a long history in performance testing and is the author of numerous books, articles, and expert answers on the subject.
This was first published in September 2009