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Difference between Test Plan, Test Strategy and Test Approach

Hi guys,

I would like to know the following

1) What is the difference between Test Plan , Test Strategy and Test Approach? As per my knowledge Test Strategy and approach are the same. Kindly correct it

2) Which document comes first: Test Plan or Test Strategy and why? I read in some forums it is Test Strategy. Also some sites says Test Strategy is a part of Test Plan. 
These are really confusing as there is lot of difference of opinion.

Can someone please clarify on these points with some good examples.

Thanks in advance


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What you are thinking is right....

Both Test Strategy and Test Approach both are same. This is prepared by the Project Manager or Test Manager (If he is available).  This documents specifies the what are all the testing approach to be followed by the Test Engineers in the Testing Team.  This includes:

Test Responsibility Matrix (TRM) (Covers the testing topics to be covered in this project)

How to communicate with the Test Engineers in a team and Status Reports

Defect Report and Tracking, etc....


Where as Test Plan means: Way of the Test Engineers to be following the Test Approach or Test Methodology to accomplish the Testing.  Generally this is prepared by the Test Lead.  This includes...

Features to be tested and not to be tested

When to start testing

When to Suspend testing

when to stop testing

Schedule to accomplish the testing, etc...



Hey praveen this is good yar this is the best explaination  i have ever heard

1. A Test Strategy explains the Test Approach and so Testing Approach is a section in the Test Strategy document. A Test Strategy document is a high-level document that states what you are going to test. It doesn't mention detailed information as a Test Plan.

A Test Plan is a detailed document that states how you are going to test the in-scope items. Realistically, a test plan would be written once your requirements document has been signed off so that the Test/QA Manager has enough info to devise a strategic plan to test the solution.


2. Test Strategy precedes the Test Plan. Different sites and different SDLC approaches say different things. But the most common observation in various companies (at least in North America) is that a Test Strategy is usually written first and a Test Plan follows after.


I have few concern on above topic -

1. In which phase of STLC we create Test Strategy and Test plan ?

2. As per my understanding test Strategy, approach is a part of Test plan , so how Test Strategy is usually written first?

Please explain more in details and clear


Hitesh Shah



 Hi Hitesh , 

 Praveen and Behbood is Correct in their replies and Veena is outstanding because she is a fresher but has given a nice try to a question which is actually asked to a person having 3+ years of experience ...


Okay I am replying for your newly added questions 1 and 2 :----

 1) Test Strategy and Test plan can be prepared as soon as possible once the requirement has been approved and Project Plan has been prepared ...   You can consider them all as the first phase of Testing Process .. 


2)  Veena is Correct ..    1st document will be Test Policy then based on Test Policy , Test Strategy will be Prepared and further from Test Policy and Test Strategy , Test Plan will be derived ..  


Note:- It is not always necessary that these all documents will be prepared .. depending on the Context of the Project we can have a single document ( Test Plan ) dealing with the contents of all of the documents ...       Test Policy is Organization dependent , Test Strategy is Context dependent and they both are stable not Static.. If need be We can change our Strategy ...

Test Strategy is also called Test Approach ... 


Still have Confusion..?  Drop me a mail at  samrat.bats@gmail.com.



Samrat Jha.

In any company.. 1st wil be test policy under test policy test strategy will come under test strategy .. test plan wil come.. 

 test plan wil be dynamic prepared by the test lead .. but test strategy will be static.. prepared by the company management..


Test strategy define

...the methods and coverage criteria to be covered,

...the test completion criteria,

...the prioritization of the test,

...the planned tool support,

..the configuration of the test environment.


Test Strategy is a high level description of the test levels to be performed and the testing within those levels for an organization or program(one or more projects).


The test plan is

... the written record of the test strategy,

... the resource planning


Test plan is a document describing the scope,approach,resources and schedule of intended test activities. it identifies,amongst others,test items,the features to be tested,the testing tasks, who will do each task,the degree of tester independence , the test environment, the test design techniques,the entry and exit criteria to be used and the rationale for their choice and any risk requiring contingency planning. it is a record of a test plan process..




When you do your search, you'll find that the meanings vary from company to company. In some companies, a test plan is no more than a list of tests.

That said, the difference in the companies for which I've worked is that the Test Strategy document is written before test artifacts (test cases, scripts, etc.) are completed. The strategy details the testing infrastructure. The testing infrastructure are items like what types of testing will be performed, the environment, assumptions, risks, the error workflow, status reporting, acceptance criteria, etc. This type of information can be determined before a significant amount of detailed information is available, which means it can be developed early in the analysis phase.

The Test Plan, on the other hand, actually provides a plan for the testing period itself. It includes who will test what and when. It normally contains at least a link to the completed testing artifacts. It sometimes will include the same sections as the Test Strategy, provided as a "reminder". I personally prefer to provide a test plan late in the construction phase, roughly 2 weeks prior to the test effort. If it is provided earlier, it inevitably needs to be updated.

but in my opinion 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.

For more details discussion I suggest you to check the following link if you do not mind:


Test Strategy document is a high level document which defines “Testing Approach” to achieve testing objectives. It is derived from the Business Requirement Specification document. This is usually prepared by project managers.
The Test Stategy document is a static document meaning that it is not updated too often. It sets the standards for testing processes and activities and other documents such as the Test Plan draws its contents from those standards set in the Test Strategy Document.
Some companies include the “Test Approach” or “Strategy” inside the Test Plan, which is fine and it is usually the case for small projects. However, for larger projects, there is one Test Strategy document and different number of Test Plans for each phase or level of testing.
Contents of the document:
.Scope and Objectives 
.Business issues 
.Roles and responsibilities 
.Communication and status reporting 
.Test deliverability 
.Industry standards to follow 
.Test automation and tools 
.Testing measurements and metrices 
.Risks and mitigation 
.Defect reporting and tracking 
.Change and configuration management 
.Training plan 

The Test Plan document on the other hand, is derived from the Product Description, Software Requirement Specification SRS, or Use Case Documents.The Test Plan document is usually prepared by the Test Lead or Test Manager and the focus of the document is to describe what to test, how to test, when to test and who will do what test.
You can also have one Master Test Plan which is a common document for the test phases and each test phase have their own Test Plan documents.
Contents of Test plan:
Test Plan id 
Test items 
Features to be tested 
Features not to be tested 
Test techniques 
Testing tasks 
Suspension criteria 
Features pass or fail criteria 
Test environment (Entry criteria, Exit criteria) 
Test delivarables 
Staff and training needs 


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