Test Plan vs Test Strategy

Both test plan and test strategy are required elements for the Quality Assurance (QA) processes we execute during the software testing phase. Both of these documents are part of the QA Best Practices. However, the test plan and the test strategy are not always interchangeable. Therefore, depending on our testing requirements, we need to identify the exact element used.

Test Strategy vs Test Plan

How do you know whether you need a test plan or a test strategy? What if you need both? Understanding the difference between them is essential for testing. In addition, we need to know when to use a test plan or a test strategy depending on the testing requirements.

This article shows the differences between a test plan and a test strategy and when to use them.

What is a Test Plan?

Planning clip art

A Test Plan is a document that defines the scope, test approach, test objective, test process, and weight of a software testing process. It also includes the schedule, test deliverables, estimation, and assets needed for the testing tasks.

Therefore, a test plan document is needed when deciding the deadlines (e.g., deadline of the testing phases, deadline of the entire application development, etc.) or short-order requests.

Having a test plan will enhance productivity as it assists the QA team members by making them aware of the flow of the test tasks, test objectives, deadlines, etc. Moreover, a test plan will ease modifications added to the test tasks. 

What is a Test Strategy?

Strategy clip art

A Test Strategy document consists of guiding principles that manage and control the test design. It defines how the software testing processes are handled.  A Test Strategy describes a systematic approach to the software testing process. 

A Test Strategy consists of all the constituents needed for the success of the software application and its development life cycle. It enhances the quality of test tasks and allows us to track and measure the standard of the tests. 

Additionally, a Test Strategy document assists QA teams to be aware of the testing and the assigned roles for each team member with the required resources.

What is the difference between a Test Plan and a Test Strategy?

Let us compare the Test Plan and Test Strategy and comprehend the differences. 

Documentation content for both Test Plan and Test Strategy

A test plan document outlines the test approach, scope in detail, and magnitude of the effort needed for testing. It includes explanations of all testing activities that provide for test techniques, schedule, resources, etc.

Following is a list of vital elements in a test plan.

  • Features to be tested
  • Modules not to be tested
  • Test deliverables and testing objectives
  • Test processes and testing approach
  • Pass-fail criteria
  • Estimates
  • Assumptions
  • Test priorities
  • Test approvals
  • Manual testing parameters
  • Test failure contingencies

The test strategy document scope and outlines guidelines that define the test design while setting out the procedures of testing activities. It describes high-level design procedures to use, including information such as test environment specifications.

Following is a list of crucial elements in a test strategy.

  • Scope
  • Testing tools
  • Test environment specifications
  • Defined tests for manual and automated tests
  • Release control
  • Risk analysis and mitigation
  • Audit and industry standards
  • Physical and logical security plans
  • Test metrics
  • Test reporting measures
  • Stakeholder tasks and duties

Modifications between Test Plan vs. Test Strategy

Modifications can be applied to a test plan document. Hence it is a dynamic document. Therefore, test plans can be easily updated when a new requirement or a change is needed.

The difference between applying modifications to a test strategy and a test plan is that changes cannot be applied to a  test strategy document. Hence, it is a static document.

Dependency between Test Plan and Test Strategy

When considering the dependency of a test plan vs test strategy, a test plan is created independently and has no dependencies for the creation process. Most of the time, test strategy documents are a part of a test plan as they define the design of tests. 

Utilization level between Test Strategy vs. Test Plan

The use of a test plan exists individually at the project level. This document cannot be used for any other projects of a similar nature. Specifically, a test plan document is specific to a single project because test deliverables differ from one software project to another. Therefore, the effect of a test plan is only for a single project, and the occurrence of an error in the test plan will only affect the associated software project.

The use of a test strategy appears at the organizational/association level. This document can be used for multiple projects of similar nature. In other words, a test strategy is created for an entire organization that executes similar projects. For that reason, a test strategy affects a whole organization. If an error is made within the test strategy, it affects many projects.

Creation of a Test Strategy and Test Plan

Test plan documents are created by the test administrator, test lead, or test manager. Hence, they are responsible for taking care of test planning. Test plans are generated using Use Case documents, Software Requirement Specification (SRS), and the Product Description. At the beginning of the test plan creation, the testing manager needs to highlight the objective, test criteria, and resource planning measures.

test administrator / test lead / test manager / project manager / task manager

A test strategy is created by the project manager or the task manager. This document is made with the assistance of the Business Requirement Specification (BRS) document. When starting a test strategy, it is essential to outline the test guidelines before proceeding with the other components of the test strategy.