What is the difference between end-to-end testing and system testing?

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Joi KozeyJoi Kozey

Software testing is a crucial part of software development as it helps ensure that your software meets the expected requirements and functions as expected. QA engineers perform two major types of testing:

  1. System testing
  2. End-to-end testing

These testing methods help identify crucial issues in the overall user flow and help ensure that the user experience remains optimal.

You might be wondering – what exactly are the differences between the two approaches?

This post aims to answer exactly that!

What is System Testing?

System testing checks the entire software product to ensure it works as expected and meets all requirements. It is done after integration testing and before acceptance testing. So, system testing happens after the individual components have been tested in integration testing but before the app is released to users in acceptance testing.

This step makes sure that your app functions seamlessly as a whole and is ready for real-world use.

In fact, you might use system testing in a use case as follows:

Imagine your organization has developed a new mobile app for managing personal finances. During system testing, you would validate the complete and integrated app to ensure it meets all specified requirements. This includes checking features like:

  • Transaction tracking
  • Budget management
  • Account synchronization

Use Cases of System Testing

System testing is used in scenarios where the entire application needs to be validated as a whole. For example:

  • When a new feature is added to an existing application, the tester must ensure it integrates seamlessly without breaking existing functionality.
  • Comprehensive system testing is performed before releasing a major software update to ensure all components work as expected.
  • In regulated industries like healthcare or finance, system testing is critical to ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations.

How Do You Do System Testing?

If you’re curious about performing system testing, here’s a simple guide to help you get started:

  • Prepare the test environment: Set up a testing environment that mirrors the production environment as closely as possible.
  • Develop test cases: Create detailed cases covering all functional and non-functional requirements.
  • Execute test cases: Run the test cases systematically and record the results.
  • Report and track defects: Document any defects found and track them until resolution.
  • Perform regression testing: Retest the application to ensure that fixes do not introduce new issues.

And, just like that, you can adopt system testing in your QA process.

Pros of System Testing

There are several advantages of using system testing. Some include:

  • Comprehensive coverage: Validates the complete system, ensuring all components work together.
  • Early detection of issues: Identifies defects that may not be apparent in unit or integration testing.
  • Improved quality: Enhances the overall quality of the application by uncovering issues before release.

What is End-to-End Testing?

On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got End-to-End (E2E) Testing. E2E testing is about checking if an application works correctly from start to finish.

It simulates real user scenarios to ensure the system and its components integrate well and maintain data integrity.

Use Cases of End-to-End Testing

E2E testing is extremely useful in cases where entire user-flow testing is essential. For example, this could involve platforms like:

  • E-commerce websites: Ensuring that the entire purchasing process works, from browsing products to payment processing and order confirmation.
  • Banking applications: Verifying transactions, balance inquiries, and account updates function correctly across various systems.
  • Complex workflows: Testing multi-step processes that involve several integrated systems and user interactions.

So, in a nutshell, you can use E2E testing in any scenario where you want to test a user flow.

How to Do End-to-End Testing

Conducting E2E testing can be simple or complex, depending on your setup. But, in general, if you wish to adopt E2E testing, you can start by practicing the steps defined below:

  1. Define user scenarios: Identify the critical user journeys and workflows to be tested.
  2. Set up test environment: Configure an environment that includes all the necessary components and integrations.
  3. Develop test scripts: Create automated or manual test scripts that mimic real user actions.
  4. Execute tests: Run the tests and monitor the system’s behavior.
  5. Analyze results: Review the results to ensure the system performs as expected across all scenarios.
  6. Report and track defects: Document and track any issues found during testing.

Pros of End-to-End Testing

There are several benefits of conducting E2E testing in your software. For instance, E2E testing offers:

  • Realistic testing: Simulates real user scenarios, providing a realistic assessment of the system’s performance.
  • Thorough validation: Ensures that all components and integrations function correctly, providing confidence in the system’s reliability.
  • User-centric experiences: Focuses on the user experience, ensuring that workflows meet user expectations.

What’s the Big Difference Between System Testing and End-to-End Testing?

The primary difference between system testing and end-to-end testing lies in their scope and focus.

System testing concentrates on validating the complete system’s functionality per the requirements; end-to-end testing extends this validation to include interactions with external systems and real-world user scenarios.

Additionally, system testing is used to verify that the application meets its specifications, whereas end-to-end testing ensures the application performs well in real-life use cases.

So, that’s pretty much the difference between the two testing strategies. Based on this and your use case, you can determine which approach is better for you.


Understanding the distinction between system and end-to-end testing is crucial for software quality assurance.

Both types of testing are critical to the software development lifecycle, but they focus on different aspects of the application’s functionality and performance.

System testing ensures that the application meets its specified requirements, while end-to-end testing validates the entire user workflow and interactions with external systems.

By leveraging both testing methodologies appropriately, development teams can deliver robust, reliable, and user-friendly software products.