Test Scenarios vs. Test Cases: What is the Difference?

Test Scenarios vs. Test Cases: What Is the difference?

The world of tools and technology can be very much like the waves of an ocean. There’s always a new range of tools and technologies, which keep on coming and going, some of them becoming a passing fad while others end up creating an insane revolution. Recently I spotted an interesting thread which was around Test Scenarios vs Test Cases. These terms are often used interchangeably and I believe that’s a major misconception which we will be exploring in the following post.

What is a Test Scenario?

Any feature or piece of functionality which can be tested is what we can refer to as a “test scenario”. This can also be known as a test condition. It’s all about putting QA process in the place of the end user and then testing whether the developed solution is working according to the predetermined requirement or not. The developed application is tested with a variety of real-world scenarios and use cases.

A test scenario could be a set of manual or automated test cases which assist people in determining the positive and negative project characteristics, or a high level description of how something should work. It is here that you need to understand what needs to be tested and what doesn’t need to be tested.

There are certain situations where test scenarios might not work as well such as:

  • If the application under test is complicated and there is no time left in the project
  • Where there is no possibility for detecting new bugs or regression testing
  • If you are testing an unstable website or an app

So why exactly is there a need for test scenarios? In other words, what are the benefits of making use of test scenarios?

  • Well thought out and designed test scenarios can lead to better test coverage
  • Test scenarios can be shared among various shareholders, business analysts, software developers, software testers and consumers. In fact, you can even ask for their opinion or feedback on the scenarios that you have created.
  • Test scenarios can help in determining how the software is to be used. So here you get to know whether the developed software is working as expected.
  • Test scenarios can help to study the features and end-to-end functionalities of the developed software.

Test Case – What is it?

Now, on the other hand a “test case” can be defined as a set of actions that are taken to verify a specific feature or functionality of the application. Just like in test scenarios, they involve steps such as test data, test preconditions, test postconditions and the type of test scenario considered. In a test case, specific variables and conditions are also taken into account to drive the test case. The ultimate purpose of a test case is to check whether the software is functioning right in accordance with the standard guidelines, customer’s pre-defined needs and expectations or not. When testers are working collaboratively with developers it can help uncover unknowns early. As a result, you may observe a reduction in the cost of maintenance and support.

What exactly does a test case consist of?

  • The objective – There has to be some motive for the test case, is the developed solution meeting the pre-defined guidelines and/or customer requirements?
  • Steps – The test case should mention relevant steps which need to be taken into account in order to achieve the expected outcome.
  • Expected Outcome – How do we expect the application to behave given the steps taken above.
  • Actual Outcome – What is the actual behaviour of the application given the steps taken above.
  • Pass or Fail – Is the expected outcome achieved or not?

When to write a test case?

There are certain considerations that must be taken into account for you to consider writing a test case. Do we have:

  • User Stories
  • Acceptance Criteria
  • Users who we want to focus on
  • Features that we want to focus on

A test case is about understanding what is needed to verify a specific system. Right from the required steps to inputting data values and observing the results that are expected through this type of execution.

Benefits of Creating Test Cases

  • Better Consistency: When we use test cases to conduct their testing, it can help us be more thorough and better organized.
  • Knowledge Transfer: Test cases can be used to keep knowledge of the application with the people using and writing the test cases. This can be incredibly useful when someone leaves and is replaced by a new person. The new person can use the existing test cases to help them understand how the application works.
  • Reduces the dependency on 1 individual : When you are using test cases to test your products, you will be depending on a process rather than a person. So, even if any skilled engineer quits the job, your project won’t be in any jeopardy.
  • More Efficient: Rather than considering the entire flow, test cases can be written for specific functions. The focus here lies on each function which increases the effectiveness of the tests and can be reused in other areas that utilise that same function.
  • Saves Time: When future versions of the same product are released, the same test cases can be used for future releases providing the functionality hasn’t changed.

Test Cases vs Test Scenarios – The Ultimate Difference!

Now it’s showtime! Time to look at the differences between the two – Test cases and Test scenarios.

FactorsTest ScenarioTest Case
Definition High-level documentation describing what functionalities are to be tested.Definite test steps, data, and what results are expected in the end.
ObjectiveFocuses on what to test over how to test.Focuses on both what to test and how to test.
MethodologyLends itself more to Agile.Lends itself more to Waterfall.
Time ConsumedLess time taken and resources.More time taken as well as resources required.

What Makes an Ideal Test Case?

  • They should be clear and descriptive and contain the information described above (objective, steps, expected outcome etc).
  • Keep the end users and functionality in mind and focus on those areas.

Tips for Creating Successful Test Cases

  • Identify the purpose of testing (the objective).
  • Write precise scope and specifications (the steps).
  • Write the test from the perspective of a customer (this can be an end user or a consuming API).
  • User persona can be extremely important.
  • Be critical both in the review and in the creation of test cases and be sure to gather feedback from stakeholders.
  • Test case documentation. Here you can keep two separate documents one for the bugs and other for the test cases.

What Makes an Ideal Test Scenario?

  • Clear statements
  • Clear criteria for running the scenarios

Tips for Creating Successful Test Scenarios

  • Prior to the creation of the test scenario, you can check for specific requirements and think of multiple user behaviour flows for example positive and negative working flows.
  • Then create multiple test scenarios for that requirement and trace the same with requirements in the requirement traceability matrix sheet (RTM).
  • Whenever you are writing test scenarios, you have to keep the requirements of business and end-users’ perspective in mind. You have to imagine or identify various types of scenarios in a customer journey to draw out an effective test scenario. You can utilize the RTM document related to requirements and test cases traceability to ensure the required test coverage.

Final Verdict

Test Cases or Test Scenarios? Well, like a lot of things, the answer depends on your needs and requirements. Both the terms/concepts matter a lot for any software testing professional but what they pick is based on the environment and context that they are in. So consider both wisely.

I hope you have gained helpful insights regarding test cases and test scenarios from the following post. If so, do share among your peers and help us out in spreading the knowledge. In case there is anything you didn’t understand, feel free to reach out to me in the comment section below. Good luck for your future ventures!

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