Test Scenario Vs Test Case: What is Difference Between These?

Difference between Test Scenario Vs Test Case:

6 years ago, while working with a medium sized MNC, when I suggested to document test scenarios rather than wasting time on preparing the full proof document called test cases, all the heads turned to me in annoyance.

The look on the faces was clearly conveying that I made a big mistake by suggesting it. Although no one denied the idea no one even accepted. Everyone felt that following the tradition, i.e. writing test case document, would be safer. I could not argue.

Test Scenario Vs Test Case

After 4 years, the company received a testing project, where the only constraint was time and only expectation was full proof testing.

We were in the meet again and were discussing ideas to meet the critical deadline. The application was mainly about search and generating different reports via different menu items. Documenting test cases was supposed to snatch most of the time and we were not sure, how much the document was going to use to the client.

I suggested documenting test scenarios and somehow with some hesitation, everyone agreed. No need to mention that we could save precious time of documentation and could utilize it for testing.

Are Test Cases being replaced fast with test scenarios?

With time, as everything is changing, software industry and processes also have changed a lot.

Traditional waterfall and v-models are being replaced by agile and iterative models. Documentation is necessary but to meet deadlines and making the process easy and transparent, the way of documentation can be changed.

Documentation of test cases is important when:

  1. The client has asked for the same as part of the project
  2. There is no time constraint (I don’t think it’s possible)
  3. Testers are fresher or unknown to product
  4. Company policy (I strongly believe that it can be changed)

Let me share with you one experience:

I and my team were involved in testing a project from fortune 500 company with flexible timelines. We documented test cases with a best available template and got it approved by the client. Once the build started releasing to QA team, for most of the day, our duty was, mechanically follow 100 test cases per day, update document with pass/fail result and send it to the client at the end of the day. Most of the team members started complaining about monotonous work but the company was generating revenue.

Then there was a break for one day in between with no new build to test. We sat together at the beginning of the day and were discussing what we were going to do for the day. When I proposed to generate more ideas to improve the test case document, all the team members denied putting in efforts. As per them, there was nothing more to think about as we had covered all the scenarios. And convincing them to think out of a box and generate more ideas was really tough.

Most of the time, when we document test cases and that too once approved by the client, that human mind thinks that we have done our job and our mind automatically stops considering any effort to think about other ways to test the product.

And believe me, when test cases document is prepared, we just want to follow it mechanically. Tell me for how many times in your career, you have experienced that you or the teammate offered additional test cases to the approved test cases document?

One more experience:

During weekly team challenge activity, we announced the application and asked the team members to pour in test scenarios. All the team members, including those late responders or non-responders, put in ideas. Why? There was no formal documentation where they had to fill expected result for every sequence of functionality and pre-condition for each test case. We collected 40 test scenarios in a day and that was a great experience.

To favor my experience, I would like to present an example.

Take a sample application, say login page with username, password, login, and cancel buttons. If asked to write test cases for the same, we will end up writing more than 50 test cases by combining different options and details.

But if test scenarios to be written, it will be a matter of 10 lines as below:

High-Level Scenario:   Login Functionality
Low-Level Scenarios:

1. To check Application is Launching
2. To check text contents on login page
3. To check Username field
4. To check Password field
5. To check Login Button and cancel button functionality

See Also => 180+ Sample Test scenarios for testing web and desktop applications.

As we all are at short of time, test scenarios work as painkiller spray rather than that old time IODEX. And still, the effect is same.

Finally, I would like to summarize the difference between test scenario vs test case:

 Test CasesTest Scenarios
What it is =>A concept which provides detailed information what to test, steps to be taken and expected result of the sameA concept which provides one-line information about what to test.
It’s about =>It’s more about documenting details.It’s more about thinking and discussing details.
Importance =>It’s important when testing is off shored and development is onsite. Writing test cases with details will help both dev and QA team in sync.It’s important when time is less and most of the team members can agree / understand the details from one-liner scenario.
Advantage =>One time documentation of all the test cases is beneficial to track 1000s rounds of regression testing in future.
Most of the time, its helpful while bug reporting. Tester just need to give reference of test case ID and does not require mentioning each and every minute detail.
A time saver and idea generation activity, preferred by new generation software testing community.
Modification and addition is simple and not specific to a person.
For a huge project, where group of people know specific modules only, this activity gives a chance to everyone to look into other modules and brain storm and discuss
Beneficial to => A full-proof test case document is a life line for new tester.Good test coverage can be achieved by dividing application in test scenarios and it reduces repeatability and complexity of product
Disadvantage =>Time and money consuming as it requires more resources to detail out everything about what to test and how to testIf created by specific person, the reviewer or the other user might not sync the exact idea behind it. Need more discussions and team efforts.

Finally, this post should be concluded as:

Test cases are most important part of Software Development Life Cycle and without the one, it’s tough to track, understand, follow and reason out something. But in the era of Agile, test cases are being replaced fast with test scenarios.

A common test checklist for each type of testing (database testing, GUI testing, functionality testing etc) coupled with test scenarios is the modern artillery for Software Testers.  Discussions, training, questions, and practice can definitely change the final graph of your productivity as well as Bug report matrix.

About the Author: This awesome post is written by STH author Bhumika M.

As usual, we welcome your thoughts and queries. Please tune in.

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76 thoughts on “Test Scenario Vs Test Case: What is Difference Between These?”

  1. I believe that knowledge is the most important thing to have in today’s world. I have been working as a software tester from last 15 months in an MNC in general insurance domain but still sometimes I think that I need to improve my software testing knowledge to cement my position in the company by increasing the dependency and this can be done only when I think I have reached to a position where my PM can find my work as work of an expert level tester. This can be achieved by testers like me after following this kind of immensely helpful blogs. I salute you @Bhumika Mehta# for sharing your knowledge. Kindly allow to ask few queries so that I can gain even more knowledge.

  2. Hi , basically we are using following ay for testing any application .

    1)Analyzing the Requirements
    2)Participating in preparing Test Plans
    3)Preparing Test Scenarios
    4)Preparing Test Cases for module, integration and system testing
    5)Executing the Test Cases
    6)Defect Tracking
    7)Giving mandatory information of a defect to developers in order to fix it
    8)Preparing Summary Reports
    9)Preparing Suggestion Documents to improve the quality of the application
    10)Communication with the Test Lead / Test Manager

    could u plz give me how to make exel sheet or point for testing for ponit no 3 ,6 and 7

  3. Good article. I am a BA helping setting up testing in my company and had questions regarding Test Cases vs. Test Scenarios. From my vantage point, if time permits which it does in my situation, I see a merge of both in once document to show the “focus areas” and then “how to”. After reading the post, I will use multi-tab excel with the first one being the Scenario and the next tab to show Test Case. This is a rough idea that seems promising to me. I can imagine issues with organizing, updating, sorting, etc. due to features possibly existing in multiple overall scenarios. When QA starts getting up to speed then I’ll detach the two and have them list applicable Test Cases for each scenario.

    But this is a good document and thank you for posting. I particularly like the grid that shows differences between Test Cases and Test Scenarios.

  4. is it necessary for a testing fresher to have a deep n working knowledge of automation? I have sound knowledge of manual testing. is it not enough to start career in testing as a fresher?

  5. @joy singh
    You don’t need compulsorily knowledge of automation. It also depends upon the company requirement whether they are hiring for manual or automation.

  6. I believe that both test scenarios as test cases are closely related and are an essential part of a good test. The test scenarios are more oriented to business needs (from the point of view of the customer), the tester will give an overview of the purpose and the types of tests like it easier for the team members know the generalities of product. Test cases allow the tester to capture business needs (test scenario) test cases at a more detailed level allowing reuse.

  7. Hi,

    Nice Sharing. I believe Test scenarios are more important than test cases. But as some one has mentioned, processes in a particular company may need test cases. I work in an MNC which is process oriented. We prepare test cases based on the acceptance criteria’s mentioned in the user story . But while testing we focus on more into scenarios. Thinking as a customer makes a QA great. Customers never follow the test cases prepared by QA for their work. The draw back of scenario based testing is next time when you do a regression testing you may not remember the scenario followed. In my case, if a particular scenario has found a very high or high defect, we automate the scenario so it wont get missed next time or in future.


  8. Thank you so much for shearing your experience. I am also thinking of having the same approach at my work place, as Scenario testing is done by creating test scenarios which replicate the end users usage. in this way we can definitely track the defects which a end user may face.

  9. Yes, I have a same query related to database testing it will be best if you can share your opinion on test case/scenario writing on database testing.

  10. Great article, lately I have been having a paradoxical opinion on whether we should design our test thinking about the item we are trying to test and list all the possibilities that could affect this item (which will eventually fall into 1 test scenario), or start from the possibilities that could affect this one item (and in this case I might have a total of 10 test cases, each for a distinct possibility, and the combination of those 10 test cases would form the complete testing coverage for this item).
    For example, I have a Qty Column in a table, its value is computed by a specific formula that takes 6 elements.
    What is your starting point here? the Qty Column? and in this case, would you create 1 test scenario that combines the 6 elements or 6 test cases each representing credibility of the qty column for each element.

    Also, in modern testing, automation is the main player here, it thinks it is easier to flag a test case as automated vs not then a test scenario because it is a one to one relation rather than many to many where automation coverage can be at 60% rather than 100%
    what are your thoughts?

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