Exploratory Testing and Its Cruciality in Agile Development
Exploratory testing provides an alternative and rapid method for locating defects in software that traditional testing methods might miss.
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We know testing today is all about exploring the system, practical thinking of a tester and encouraging real-time practices. “Exploratory testing," as the name suggests, means the mechanism of test planning, analyzing, designing and test execution which is done instantly and together.
On the other hand, software testing is an organized process that is used to ensure that a system is working in accordance with the specifications.
The mechanism of testing is also used for verifying quality and performance in a business critical software.
Usually, software testing is of two types, manual and an automated testing. On the contrary, exploratory testing is a testing process which yields meaningful returns in the quest for the best possible software quality.
In other words, it gives software testers the freedom to design, develop and execute the tests while exploring the product.
What Is Exploratory Testing?
The process of exploratory testing includes assigning testers a loosely designed task to achieve, using the software being tested.
It allows everyone to join in to help test as their main aim is to wonder about the product in a free-form manner.
Basically, exploratory testing provides quality analysts for users involved in the testing field. It ensures that every system and application works effortlessly for their customers.
Not only that, it also motivates users by rewarding the number of issues, best defect, or doing something unexpected with the product.
With the help of exploratory testing, the test design and execution are done simultaneously to be further used for collecting data from the execution of the testing process.
For this exact reason, exploratory testing is useful cases where testing scenarios cannot be determined.
Who Utilizes Exploratory Testing, and When to Use It
Generally, this process of exploratory testing can be performed by anyone who is involved in the placement of the app, developers, testers, business analysts and finally end users.
Having said that, larger community performance can more likely discover defects and issues before the application reaches production.
Key features of an effective exploratory tester are:
- A skilled test designer
- An inquiring mind
- Passion for testing
- A skilled observer
- An excellent communicator
- A skilled toolsmith
Utilizing exploratory testing in some ways is no different than practicing and managing testing activity.
Exploratory testing is highly beneficial in various cases except for those cases where test cases to be run cannot be determined in advance like the following cases:
- While exploring the scope and variations of defects
- When it is difficult to determine test cases to be run and execute
- When your system is unstable, i.e. the product is in its earlier development stage
- Providing fast feedback on product quality within a short span of time.
- Scripted tests fail to detect errors.
Importance of Exploratory Testing in Improving Software Quality
Previously, manual analytical testing was used for beginning stage products before their release. But now it is also used in order to overcome the restrictions of existing scripted tests.
In the process of exploratory testing, users are free to investigate every little aspect of an application.
This service by tester enables the team to reveal issues that were missed during the scripted tests.
Basically it's a critically structured approach that is effective in finding errors or bugs. Not only this, it also ensures product improvement in the following ways:
Create better test scripts: Exploratory testing acts as an additional check to ascertain the certainty of the scripted test. This simultaneous process of design and test execution facilitates the improvement of existing test designs and creates better test scripts.
The data information collected from exploratory testing is helpful in enhancing existing tests and diversifies testing. In addition to this, it also helps skilled testers focus their time and effort in exploring various aspects of the software just like a real user.
It is greatly beneficial for a tester who understands the business goal and technology. Thus, an exploratory test insight plays an essential role in making the software better for the end users.
Freedom to execute various test cases: Creativity is encouraged in this testing process which allows the tester to find more realistic bugs from an end user perspective.
In other words, it gives freedom to the testers to execute more test cases and cover different testing scenarios.
With the objective to minimize business risk and improve technology, exploratory testing provides new ideas to the developer by gathering different data and analyzing it.
Enables bug detection: Detecting new errors in an application using same scripted tests over again may show inaccurate results.
With the help of exploratory testing, you can manage to find the most crucial bugs in a short period of time.
Furthermore, it enables testers to explore new scenarios where programs are most likely to fail.
Saves time and facilitates quick feedback: One of the important benefits of exploratory testing is that there is no need to create test documents or designs to execute the test cycles.
Thus, this form of testing saves time as well as ensures quick feedback to the developers. With the help of this simultaneously executing test, the management can recognize business risks faster and fix high priority issues in time.
Effective investigation of dynamic products: Exploratory allows the tester to disregard any series of scripted tests or rules before moving to a new feature.
It involves research of the entire software architecture, such as exploring different test environments, which further speeds up the process of bug detection.
Therefore, testers can observe and analyze the product behavior effortlessly.
Challenges in Exploratory Testing
In spite of the fact that exploratory testing has numerous advantages, it is unacceptable for every scenario as it comes with its own challenges in execution.
Here are a few challenges that are involved with this testing:
- It is not effective in every scenario and especially in the case of a large project where coverage is the focus.
- It demands careful documentation for procreating and fixing the bugs found.
- As explanatory testing is accomplished activity, it necessitates access to experienced software testers for planning and execution of the test process.
Best Practices In Exploratory Testing
Concentrate on your goals: In one or the other way exploratory testing can complement other testing methods that examine systems in different ways.
Since identifying bugs is the main goal of this testing, maximize the value of your tests by focusing on your goals to do so.
Thus, it will greatly help you to exercise a system like a user while actively looking to identify bugs effortlessly.
Purpose your tests: Planning your testing in advance is important as it helps you to clarify specific aspects of a system you want to examine including special data requirements or system needs.
Exploratory testing doesn’t mean testing without control or good practice, it requires great planning.
Execute one test at a time: In order to detect defects and errors in a system, don’t aim to test too much as it can yield inaccurate results.
Generally, these issues and errors arise through edge cases of testing, but that doesn’t mean they are low impact.
Often, these edge errors yield a high level of severity even if they are less likely to arise. Moreover, exploratory testing focuses on the parts of the system that is away from the normal practice pattern and is less likely to be well tested.
Testing skill and experience: Usually, exploratory testing requires a greater level of testing proficiency and experience in comparison to other testing techniques.
Ensure your testers are the best option for you as you will have to explicitly use and rely on their skills for the testing process.
Keep a clear record: In order to optimize the process in the future, keep a clear record of what you did, how you did it and what you found out.
This documentation record will give you a clear indication of how well and effective the session was. Your report should include:
- Creating and executing tests
- Setting up the session
- Investigating and reporting bugs
- Notes on how the testing was conducted
- Test charter outlining with scope and goals of your test
- Extra materials used to support testing
- List of features to be tested
With exploratory testing, product managers can know exactly what their product is capable of and where and why it's not functioning properly. Since exploratory testing works well in finding critical bugs in a short span of time, it is ideal in an Agile environment to speed up the development and deployment process.
Moreover, exploratory testing acts as an additional check to ensure the accuracy of scripted tests. Also, with the help of this testing, the skilled tester can focus on their time and efforts in exploring various aspects of the software. Thus, exploratory testing plays a crucial role in making the software better for the end users.
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