The Difference Between a Test Plan and Test Strategy

We’ll soon be launching Qucate, a test management platform for functional software. In Qucate, you’ll be able to create fully audited test plans for compliance, visibility, and transparency, whilst improving quality and test coverage. If you’re new to software testing, you may be wondering what the differences are between a test strategy vs test plan. 

Test strategy vs test plan

It can sometimes be difficult to understand the difference between a test plan and test strategy, which can cause confusion if you’re not familiar with software testing.

So, what is a test plan and test strategy?

In simple terms, a test strategy sets the general standard for testing activities and describes how the testing will be done.

A test plan defines specific details of the testing process and scope, and outlines how you will actually test your software.

Still confused? Let’s go into a bit more depth.

Test plan

A test plan is a set of predefined steps and checks designed to identify bugs and defects, making sure your software works as intended. Think of it as a step-by-step guide. In our next blog, we’ll go into more detail about how you can create a test plan, but for now (and to quickly summarise), a test plan will include 16 steps, as per The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 829 Standard Policy.

What's the difference between a test plan and test strategy? The 16 deliverables in the IEEE 829 policy that shows what's included in a test plan and test strategy

Test strategy

Whilst a test plan will outline the objective and aims of your testing, your test strategy will go into more detail about how you will test your software. Your test strategy regulates the overall approach for your software testing process. 

Difference between a test plan vs test strategy

Now we’ve got a basic understanding, we can look at the difference between a test plan vs test strategy. 

Test plan Test strategy
A test plan is normally created by the QA, test manager, or test lead. A test strategy is normally created by the project manager or organisation as a whole.
A test plan details the specification and can evolve throughout the testing process, as and when it’s needed. A test strategy details the general approach, and does not change very often.
Components of a test plan include: test plan ID, features to be tested (and not to be tested), testing techniques, testing tasks, pass or fail criteria etc. Components of a test strategy include: scope, testing approach, testing tools, testing processes, release control, risk analysis etc.
A test plan is created for each individual piece of software or change and determines possible issues and dependencies to identify defects. A test strategy is a long-term approach or philosophy. It isn’t project specific, and in smaller projects, a test strategy is often found as a section of a test plan, rather than existing individually.
A test plan is defined at project level. A test strategy is set at organisation level and applies to all projects.

As mentioned earlier, we won’t go into depth about creating a test plan, as we’ll be talking about next week. However, this is what a test strategy will normally look like in the software testing lifecycle (STLC):

the difference between a test plan and test strategy?A diagram showing the process of a test strategy vs test plan

And there we have it! Hopefully you now understand the difference between a test plan and test strategy. Don’t forget you can find out how to create a test plan in our next blog post.

If you’re looking for a test management platform for your functional software, head to our Qucate page to register.

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Rebecca Lawton

Our Head of Partnerships and Marketing, Rebecca, is responsible for the generation and management of digital marketing content. She is an accomplished copywriter and has experience in SEO. Rebecca also leads our community engagement programmes, and works closely with our key partners.