Test Strategy vs Test Plan: What’s the Difference?

May 05 •

Test Plan vs Test Strategy

As a software tester, you may find yourself tasked with writing two documents that sound very similar: test strategy and test plan.

Both of these are important documents that software testers prepare before beginning a project, but each serves a different purpose. And knowing the difference can be useful so that you can understand how a client's testing project will be carried out. Writing a test plan and test strategy is an important skill that every software tester should master—and knowing the difference between test plan vs test strategy documents can come in handy when you're interviewing at a software testing firm.

Here's everything you need to know about the two documents.

Test Strategy vs Test Planning In This Article
Test Strategy vs Test Plan: What’s the Difference?
Test Plan vs Test Strategy
What is a Test Plan?
What is a Test Strategy?
Components of Test Strategy Documents
Fields to be Filled Out in a Test Strategy Document
Difference Between Test Strategy vs Test Plan
Test Strategy vs Test Plan: Know the Difference
FAQs
Q. How do you write a test plan and a test strategy?
Q. Why is it important to know the difference between a test plan and test strategy?


What is Test Plan?

A test plan is defined as a document created by the software testing firm that outlines the various actions to be executed during the testing process. Test plans answer the "how" questions about a software testing project, such as:

You can think of a test plan as an outline of your software testing project, as it describes the assets, approach, and the time table for each portion of the testing. It will detail the features to be tested, the test strategies and techniques that the software testing team will use, and more.

Test plans are fluid in nature and can vary from one software product to another. They're important because they help software testing firms and their clients stay on the same page in regards to the type of work that will be carried out.

Test plans are usually written by test managers or test leads based on input by team members. They contain several fields to be filled out, such as the following:

To summarize, a test plan goes into great detail about the testing project and how it will be carried out.

What is a Test Strategy?

A test strategy is a more high-level document that outlines the project in broader terms, usually including a set of instructions or guidelines about how the testing will be carried out. Where the test plan goes into a lot of detail about a project, the test strategy gives a 50,000 foot view of it. Yet it is needed to clearly define the exact software testing approach and testing objectives of the software application.

The test strategy addresses the "what" questions surrounding the testing project, such as:

Your test strategy has to be one single document, whereas there may be multiple test plan documents to support that strategy.

It is tailored to your audience - stakeholders and senior management team you need approval from. And unlike a test plan, which can be modified during the course of a project, the test strategy is a static document that doesn't change.

Components of Test Strategy Documents:

There are usually four components or sections of a test strategy:

1. The scope; what are the things within the scope of testing and the things not in the scope

2. Test approach - what types of testing will be conducted

3. Environments - where are we going to be doing our testing?

4. Key deliverables - your clients want to know what are they paying for

Filleds to be Filled Out in a Test Srtategy Document:

Difference Between Test Strategy vs Test Plan

Still confused? It can be useful to see the differences between a test plan and test strategy document at a glance:

Test plan: Specific to a particular project

Test strategy: Usually for a complete organization

Test plan: Prepared by the test lead of test manager

Test strategy: Usually prepared by the project manager

Test plan: Describes the testing activities in detail such as the techniques used, schedule, and resources

Test strategy: Describes the high-level test design techniques to be used such as environment specifics

Test plan: outlines features to be tested, components not to be tested, approach to testing, pass-fail criteria, and more

Test strategy: includes scope, test approach, testing tools, test environment specs, and more

Test plan: Is a fluid document that can be changed or updated

Test strategy: Static document that is not modified

Test Strategy vs Test Plan: Know the Difference

Test questions

Many people get these two documents confused, but it's important to know the difference between a test plan and a test strategy because both set expectations for the testing team and the client. With practice, you can become a pro at writing both and knowing what information each one covers, boosting your confidence when you outline your testing plan to clients.

FAQs

Q. How do you write a test plan and a test strategy?

A. It doesn't matter which of these documents you write first; what matters is that each one is uniques and tailored for the project and client at hand. You don't want to copy a test plan and test strategy from one client to another.

You can think of a test strategy as helping to plan the test procedure while the test plan is then used to carry out the testing process.

Q. Why is it important to know the difference between a test plan and test strategy?

A. Knowing the difference between test plan and test strategy documents helps set expectations for your team and your clients before each software testing project.

About the Author

Jill Willcox has worked on accessibility issues for most of her professional career. Iterators is an inclusive women-owned small business (WOSB) certified by the Small Business Administration and WBENC. We provide software testing services for websites, mobile apps, enterprise software, and PDF remediation services, rendering PDFs ADA compliant.

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