Opting for QA services, you may face the dilemma of choosing between the test plan and test strategy. Is it so necessary to implement both of them, or there are cases when it is enough to come up with just a test plan for your project?
Let’s compare these two concepts to discover the peculiarities and clarify the dispute: test plan vs. test strategy: what’s the difference?
Purpose of a test plan and test strategy
A test plan is a document that clearly outlines QA activities to be conducted: testing scope, test estimation, approaches and techniques, required resources, roles and responsibilities, test deliverables, etc.
A test plan is a road map of a QA process.
It is a unique document prepared following the specifics and requirements of every particular project.
A test strategy is a document that guidelines testing procedures and regulates how the entire process should be done to ensure its quality and reliability.
It showcases test objectives and environment, communication strategy, release control, etc. This long-term plan can be used for different projects since, as a rule, it is developed on the company level and specifies general procedures for testing.
Test plan vs. test strategy
What and how?
To make the distinction between a test plan and a test strategy even more clear, let’s drill down and compare the peculiarities of each document.
In the nutshell, “what?” is the fundamental question a test strategy aims to answer. What types of testing should be performed? What is not in scope? What are the testing objectives? What timeline the QA team should follow, and what deliverables to present?
A test plan, in its turn, defines the question “how?”. How many cycles of testing to perform? How to conduct functional testing? And others.
Components and content
Core points the test plan highlights:
Features to be checked
Features pass or fail criteria
Test estimation and objectives
Test techniques and approaches
Required resources, responsibilities
Test schedule and deliverables, etc.
Speaking about the fundamental units of the test strategy, they are:
Objectives and scope
As a rule, a QA lead or QA manager puts together the test plan. A project manager describes general company approaches to testing in the test strategy.
The test plan can be edited and adjusted up to the unique company requirements. Test strategy is a static long-term action plan. A new test plan is actualized for each new project. Set on the organization level, a test strategy is used for all projects.
The test plan is a project-specific document used at the project plane. The test strategy is put to work at the organization level, but can also become a part of the test plan for small projects.
We have one more question left. When to design the test strategy and test plan? Maybe some projects can go without one of the documents? Actually, the answer to the last question is yes.
As mentioned above, there is no sense in creating a separate test strategy for small one-time projects. You can save time and money by outlining it as a section of a test plan. But do not forget that the test strategy is an indispensable part of big projects with recurrent testing or in situations when you are building a QA process in your company as a whole or for a specific product. In these situations, it will be difficult to cope without the test plan that ensures proper QA and the test strategy that provides stakeholders an outline of the progress and status of software testing.
In any case, there is hardly software testing that can be conducted without a test plan while a test strategy can be put aside in some cases. A QA vendor you choose to cooperate with can advise you on the best variant and approach to the documentation development depending on your product specifics and business objectives.
Give it a try and see how it all works in practice.