Software Testing 101

Exploratory Testing: Why and When do we need it?

September 6, 2018

Why Exploratory Testing?

As DevOps is fast becoming a mainstream strategy for Global 2000 organizations, there is a rush to create a deploy-on-demand framework. Testing now plays a more critical role than ever. Organizations benefit tremendously from the insight that exploratory testing unravels.

One could also argue that the ET approach works because it is more evolved and uses high cognitive skills as there is no formal script. It involves less planning and more of execution, such that the tester nails the exact functionality.

Typically, test design and test execution tasks occur parallelly without a prescriptive document of the test conditions, test case or scripts.

Exploratory testing can lay the groundwork and lead the way for test automation. Sound documentation and modern testing tools such as QMetry Voyager with features like recording, screen-casting, adding annotations, voice-memos or marking assertions can create automated documentation for test cases.

Exploratory Test Process

The approach is all about tester autonomy: discovery investigation and learning. Testers simply open the application and start exploring.

Planning involves the development of a test charter, a brief declaration of the scope of a time-boxed test effort, and defining the goals and approaches.

Test logging is performed simultaneously with test execution, documenting the key elements of the testing journey, and logging any bugs found along with insights about further testing.

Since exploratory testing is inherently able to react and adapt to changes very quickly, it is a popular contender in agile testing. The need for speed means that testers get a free hand with a flexible and unscripted process.

To a degree, all testers use the exploratory approach when they follow the task intuitively and trust their gut to take the best course of action.

While testing, however, automated recording of your explorations can be converted to functional test scripts, which can reinforce the conventional testing process.

For instance, tools like Jira Capture and QMetry Voyager allow you to capture your sessions, create smart and annotated bug reports and debug data, enabling automated test case documentation.

Voyager can even integrate with issue tracking tools such as JIRA and other test management products like QMetry Test Management for Jira. This enables you to export the documentation to test cases.

Business Value of Exploratory testing:

  • Identifies critical issues/bugs earlier on in the cycle
  • Saves time, efforts and increases collaboration
  • Empowers testers to test organically to enhance functionality
  • Less formality and rigidity of structure
  • Fosters experimentation, discovery and creativity
  • Better utilization of testing resources adding more value to the product
  • Almost instant feedback, closing the gap between testers and programmers
  • User oriented feedback for developers and business analysts

Exploratory testing, in itself is quite powerful. But when combined with automated testing, or other testing practices, it is a potent way to accelerate bug detection, enhance product understanding, build better quality software faster and streamline towards more functional tests. Tracking the actions performed during exploratory UI testing, sophisticated testing tools can convert the information into modular code that can be used for automated regression tests.

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