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Comparing a Test Plan vs Test Strategy for Software QA

Comparing a Test Plan vs Test Strategy for Software QA

Developing a comprehensive test strategy means never having to ask, “Where do we begin?”

A test plan vs test strategy comparison is useful in defining the role each plays in your SDLC. The test strategy defines your QA best practices. The test plan outlines how you will practically implement them toward getting a finished product to market.

Test Strategy vs Test Plan for Software QA

What Is a QA Test Strategy?

Your QA test strategy is a blueprint for efficient, comprehensive testing. It is a high-level unchanging document that defines your enterprise’s quality standards, stakeholder roles and timelines, as well as testing, tracking and reporting protocols.
Your QA test strategy can be used to quickly produce unique test plans for each new project. If you have formulated your test strategy correctly, it will save you time and resources through every release cycle.

Your test strategy should lay out your enterprise’s overall approach to QA. Your test managers, developers, testers and product stakeholders will all use it for fundamental guidance on:

  • Risk and mitigation
  • The best use of automation and manual testing
  • Audit and industry standards
  • Physical and logical security procedures
  • Test metrics
  • Test reporting standards
  • Test environment specifications
  • Stakeholder roles and responsibilities

These approaches may be applied to each new project across the enterprise. They become part of the process in every new test plan.

What Is a Software Test Plan?

A test plan, by contrast, is the detailed schedule of events and standards that will guide a product’s passage through the QA phase. It is the practical interpretation of the test strategy.

Created at the earliest scoping study at a project’s commencement, the test plan will cover:

  • Test priorities, deliverables and approvals
  • Test schedule
  • Pass/fail criteria
  • What test cases can and cannot be automated
  • Manual testing parameters
  • Test framework
  • Test tools
  • Communication and reporting channels
  • Test failure contingencies

The test plan must align your project ROI with the guiding principles of your test strategy practices. In some cases, your test strategy may be included in the test plan. In a way, a test plan filters the realities of your available time and resources through your enterprise’s best practices. It is informed by the specific business goals and core product functions of each new production while adhering to your overall standards.

Your test plan is always guided by the conditions set in your test strategy. This ensures that each project proceeds efficiently while adhering to your standards for test environments, infrastructure and approach. This consistency makes it easier and more cost-effective to deliver a range of products over time.

Comparing Test Plan vs Test Strategy with Agile

The Agile approach is an enterprise-wide commitment to integrating testing with development. It produces better products faster by combining the traditionally separate phases into a single, evolving series of product iterations. Product elements are broken down into small sprints where code is tested and returned to development for improvement. It also allows for input from a wide range of stakeholders so that the product business goals stay front of mind.

Your test strategy will define this process. It will outline the flow of code between relevant stakeholders, determine how test reports should be written and disseminated and define responsibilities and security protocols throughout the process.

Your test plan will detail the test schedule for each iteration, the tools and frameworks to be used and the flow of information between specific parties.

Another approach governs the use of an outsourced QA expert.

Test Plan vs Test Strategy with Outsourced QA

With outsourced QA, your test strategy will determine whether you use internal infrastructure or an external service, integrated into the Agile approach. It will outline responsibilities, reporting structures and security requirements for all stakeholders.

The test plan, in this instance, will revolve around the specifics of the test schedule, communication between internal and offshore teams and the deliverables for each.

The test plan becomes a practical expression of the test strategy and unlocks the value of the high-level decision to embrace external QA support. The test strategy will explain how to achieve the cost, time and resource benefits of outsourcing. The test plan delivers on that potential by implementing practices such as 24/7 offshore production, rapid production expansion and the use of domain expertise.

Your test strategy contains instructions on the most efficient way forward, and the test plan describes in detail how to proceed.

Preparing the Way Forward

With this SDLC road map in place, you can be confident that every new product will be rigorously tested to maximize its potential.

QASource engineers have the expertise and experience to help you design a test strategy that will guide your future product builds. Our experts are more than just bug catchers. They have the domain knowledge, state-of-the-art research and testing facilities and broad technical understanding that can raise your product standards. Contact us today for a free quote, or call +1.925.271.5555 to get started.


This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be considered legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out of this information and encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.