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Exploratory Testing: A Useful Technique to Enhance Software Quality

20-Aug-2019

Exploratory Testing: A Useful Technique to Enhance Software Quality

With time, Quality Assurance has become the most significant part of the software development practice meant to overcome any unexpected challenges related to development and release. However, the process usually needs testers to locate all the bugs and correct anything negative that might hamper the software functionality, operations, visual data, and other details. Nevertheless, the entire process is consuming and might need you to do a lot of exploration.  

In broader terms, exploratory testing is a practice that does not involve any hardcore documentation, but it does require the explorer to have similar experiences from the past. As we all know, the word ‘EXPLORE’ means to search and discover something with a purpose to find more on it. Hence Exploratory testing is an approach where testing is concisely described as simultaneous learning, test design, and test execution. The term exploratory was coined by Cem Kaner.  

It emphasizes the personal freedom and responsibility of the individual tester to do testing with his ‘thinking’ ability and parallel following the actual software testing life cycle process. During the testing phase, where there is severe time pressure, the exploratory testing technique is adopted, which combines the experience of testers along with a structured approach. It should be performed by skilled testers who can manage their timelines. The more the testers know about the product, the more methods they can think of to perform testing in a better way. The functionalities are tested in an ad-hoc manner to find bugs in an application.  

With this blog, we will try to explore the entire concept of exploratory testing in detail while understanding its importance, challenges, process, and more.   

What is exploratory testing, and why does it matter?    

Exploratory testing is directed from requirements and scripts/test cases explored during testing. It’s like investigating a system or application. It is structured and rigorous, highly teachable, and manageable. The next step /decision we take depends on what is being done currently. The tester configures, operates, observes, and evaluates the product and its behavior, critically investigating the result and reporting information that seems likely to be a bug.   

Exploratory testers often use tools, including screen capture or video tools, as a record of the exploratory session or tools to quickly help generate situations of interest. It is complementary to automation testing as it focuses on new features being added. When agile and exploratory methods are combined, they give excellent synergy for the testing experience.  

Exploratory Testing Vs. Scripted Testing     

Scripted testing and exploratory testing are two very different terms. Exploratory testing is more of a process that needs testers to use their experience in exploring the limitations of the software, while scripted testing works through complete documentation of execution. More importantly, scripted testing needs testers to work on repeated test cases, whereas exploratory testing emphasizes on ‘learn while you work’ approach where testers could detect even the most sophisticated errors and bugs.  

But when we talk about comprehensive testing, it is more of a combination of scripted as well as exploratory tactics. Such an approach makes it easier for testers to find unexpected bugs, and if done with precision, it could help yield the highest quality results with the least or zero risks involved.  

Need help understanding exploratory testing?   

Let our experts be the guide on your way to Quality Assurance.   

Dive into exploratory testing services with BugRaptors  

Challenges of Exploratory Testing  

If we stick with the definition, the entire concept of exploratory testing sounds very wholesome. However, the real-world implementation of the technique needs you to encounter various challenges that might impact your testing performance.   

Support Documentation  

Since exploratory testing is more of a contemporary testing practice, it makes testers skip on all the traditional tactics like defining the test plan, writing test scripts, or documenting all the details of the project. In short, the traditional approach had all the iterations and updates documented well to avoid any communication gaps.   

But in the case of exploratory testing, testers and the development teams have to encounter certain issues with the test data as the project progresses. Also, the unavailability of documentation makes testers experience loss of visibility and trouble justifying the time spent on the test process.   

Expectations  

Usually, when you offer a plan to a software development company or a product-specific firm that is about to step into the market, it often gets difficult to define the scope of the entire test scenario. Though defining all the documentation feels justified, aligning the exploratory testing technique into the process becomes difficult.   

Also, when clients have so many expectations associated with the project, educating your clients on how the process could aid the product.  

Timing  

There are situations where testers and stakeholders tend to witness a clash between each other on the use of exploratory testing. When the clients are looking for extensive test coverage and audits, there are time limitations involved. In such circumstances, testers need to analyze the situation and ensure that exploratory testing could fits well into the defined test procedure.  

How To Do Exploratory Testing    

Exploratory testing can be done by using Session-Based Test Management (SBTM) in 5 Stages:    

1. Create A Bug Taxonomy  

  • Categorize common types of faults found in the past project.  

  • Analyze the root cause analysis of the problems or faults  

  • Find the risks and develop ideas to test the application.  

2. Test Charter  

3. Test Charter should suggest  

  • What to test  

  • How it can be tested  

  • What needs to be looked  

4. Test ideas are the starting point of exploration testing  

5. Test charter helps determine how the end-user could use the system  

  Using Time Box Method For Testing  

  • This method includes a pair of testers working together not less than 90 minutes  

  • There should not be any interrupted time in those 90 minutes session  

  • Timebox can be extended or reduced by 45 minutes  

  • This session encourages testers to react to the response from the system and prepare for the correct outcome  

Review Results  

  • Evaluation of the defects  

  • Learning from the testing  

  • Analysis of coverage areas  

Debriefing  

  • Compilation of the output results  

  • Compare the results with the charter  

  • Check whether any additional testing is needed  

These stages make testing auditable and measurable on a broader scale. Testers should know the reason for testing precisely. They must keep notes and draft a document with steps being followed during testing.   

Peer-testing must be done to ensure more coverage and tracking of issues found during testing. More testing ensures digging of more scenarios, which improves overall productivity in the competitive world of software.  

When To Use  

  • Early sprint is required, or there is a lack of time  

  • The team has experienced testers  

  • There is a critical application to test on the fly  

  • Requirements and Specifications are incomplete  

  • To know the thinking process of a new member  

  • Verify the previous testing has found significant issues  

Tools For Exploratory Testing  

  • JIRA capture  

  • Test pad  

  • EDA tools – Histogram, plots, charts  

  • Q Trace  

Advantages  

  • Less preparation time.  

  • It is useful when testers have less information about AUT.  

  • Critical and Important bugs are found early and quickly.  

  • Testers use reasoning skills instead of being dependent on test cases for proceeding with testing on – fly.  

  • Encourages creativity and opens the horizon of testers to find scenarios, generate more ideas & think out of the box.  

  • The tester can use all types of testing techniques.  

Drawbacks  

  • The quality of testing depends solely on the knowledge of testers.  

  • Difficult to review and re-visit the methodology followed during testing as it is done mostly on-fly or ad-hoc basis.  

  • Not suitable for time-consuming products.  

The Crux    

In Software Engineering, Exploratory testing is performed to overcome the limitations of scripted testing. It helps in improving the Test Case suite and allows testers to focus on learning and adaptability. However, the only difficult part associated with the use of exploratory testing is to ensure that stakeholders are well-convinced of its effectiveness along with the test process.   

How Can We Help?  

At BugRaptors, we bring you the legacy of rich software testing services while offering the best exploratory testing technique. Aligning Agile testing to redefining the QA metrics, incorporating anything like exploratory testing could help you yield seamless coverage and quality.   

If you are looking for some expert assistance on performance testing or exploratory test goals, consider reaching our experts at BugRaptors.   

Let’s connect today!  

author

Sawan Sharma

Sawan works as Senior Software test engineer at BugRaptors having 6+ years of IT Experience in Web, Mobile ( iOS and Android ) Software Testing along with Database and Server Migration Testing. Good Knowledge of software development life cycle (SDLC) and test methodology (STLC). Good experience on ERP, Web Application, Desktop Application, Client- Server application.

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