Comparing a Test Plan vs Test Strategy for Software QA

Timothy Joseph
Timothy Joseph | August 30, 2022

Comparing a Test Plan vs Test Strategy for Software QA

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

It's important to understand the difference between test plan and test strategy while defining the role each plays in the software development lifecycle. While a test strategy defines your QA best practices, a test plan outlines how you will practically implement them toward getting a finished product to market.

Test Plan vs Test Strategy 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 during every release cycle.

    Your test strategy should lay out your enterprise’s overall approach to QA. Typically, a test strategy is planned well in advance before initiating any project or sprint. Moreover, it should be easily customizable to be able to serve the specific needs of the project. Your test managers, developers, testers and product stakeholders will all use it for fundamental guidance on:

    • Risk analysis 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 the 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.

Check out the table below to understand the difference between test plan and test strategy in the table below:

Test plan Test Strategy

It is a document that defines the objective, scope, method of a software testing exercise

It is a set of protocols or instructions that contain the test design and determine the methods of testing

The components include the following- test plan id, features to be tested, tasks and testing techniques, deliverables, pass/fail criteria, schedule and much more.

For a test strategy, the components include high level decisions like test objectives and scope, testing processes, reporting formats, team structure, communication strategy.

Testing managers or team leads carry out test plans and determine what to test, when and how to test, and also the team structure. Typically, test plans can be changed according to the progress.

A project manager executes a test strategy. He/she defines the testing techniques, and the modules that need to be tested. Once a test strategy is in place, it cannot be changed.

Determined at the project level, a test plan helps to determine possible dependencies and issues that might help to identify risks.

It is a long term plan of action set at the organizational level, and can be used across multiple projects. Information that is not project-specific can be abstracted, and put into the test approach.


Test Plan vs Test Strategy with Outsourced QA

With outsourced QA, your test strategy will determine whether to use internal infrastructure or an external service, integrated into the Agile approach. It will help to 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.