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

Posted on Oct 25 2012 - 2:25pm by Raj

Many people often get confused by the terms test strategy and test plan and what are the differences between them. In this article let us try to clear that doubt.

When a project gets initiated, we create the test strategy first. Test-Strategy will tell how to go about testing a business requirement or feature. It details the approach that you will implement to ensure that the product is ready for shipping by release date. This will include the high level functional and non functional test-scripts that you run based on the requirements.

So in other words strategy document is nothing but a direction you set at the start of the testing project and should demonstrate the approach you are going to take to meet the software test goals.

A typical test strategy document should contain.

-The overall goal of the testing
-What will be validated (high level)
– Where (environment) it is to be tested in
– Types of QA/testing which will be carried out(both functional and non functional)
– What tools will be needed for testing (you may already have everything, but it’s part of setting parameters of the project / test)
– Testing levels and what are the entry and exit criteria for each level?

One important point to keep in mind is that when you are writing the test strategy document, you have little information available for the project as this is the initiation phase. You only have the high level information about the requirements. That is why a strategy document is typically written by a senior test manager who has worked in similar kind of project in the past.

Where as a Test plan is written at a later stage of the project. Typically, when the user cases are ready and design and requirement documents are almost frozen. The plan describes the tasks, resources, and schedule to implement the strategy along with other elements such as environments and entry and exit criteria.

Since the test cases or at least the scenarios are identified by that time, the test plan also contains a list of exact features to be tested with a clear traceability to the requirement. It also contains the details test approach section. Furthermore, test plan can be of different types. Typically, for functional testing, we write a detailed functional test plan. If the performance is in testing scope, then we need to write one performance test plan.

A typical the test plan document should address the following areas:

– Test objectives in details
– Features to be validated
– Features not to be executed
– Detailed approach of execution of test-scripts/cases
– Major milestones and dates
– All the QA risks and the mitigation plan
– All the exact deliverables for each phase of test
– Defect management process
– Regression strategy needs to be detailed out also in the test plan.

None of the above can be fully identified during the writing of test strategy document. The plan is written typically by a test manager or lead.

So in summary test strategy is written at the initial stage of the project with high level information and test plan tell you exactly how to implement that strategy before the actual test execution.

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