Most test teams today are struggling to find better ways to handle their testing. With the advent of Agile in our software development processes, teams are perennially under pressure to provide faster releases without lowering their standards of quality. This, in turn, adds load on the in-house test teams to ensure finding more and crucial issues and to prevent defect leakage. For this reason, testers look at strategies and practices that can help them achieve their goals and add more value to the product’s quality.
In my opinion as a hands-on agile tester, there is no single silver bullet to quality, but a combination of different types and approaches to testing that can help us get closer to our quality goals. Test teams need to strategize and plan the usage of a combination of scripted tests, automated tests as well as exploratory tests for achieving an optimum coverage and best quality software.
Here is my latest article for PractiTest QA Learning Centre where I discuss the need to have a combination of scripted, automated as well as exploratory tests for an optimum QA coverage–
When we look at the typical test approach, it begins with test scripting and designing tests as per software functionality. These are created using requirement analysis and test design techniques and also using common sense and skills by our skilled testers. These scripted tests form the starting point of testing a new feature, change or addition in the software.
In addition to running the scripted tests manually, testers also rely on automated tests. These tests are scripted using various test automation tools and test automation, i.e. ability to write these automated test scripts is, thus, a much-wanted skill nowadays for all test professionals. The ability to run some tests using automated scripts helps repeatability and saves a lot of time and effort on part of the test teams. But most importantly, by automating the drudgery away, it saves the tester from repeated manual laborious tests and frees up their time for more creative thinking and exploration around the application.
Exploration of software is basically looking at the feature/functionality/change and overall behavior from a learning as well as a critical standpoint. Exploratory Testing is a crucial aspect of software testing, which almost every tester performs knowingly or subconsciously.
Cem Kaner coined the term Exploratory Testing in his book “Testing Computer Software” and described it as:
“Simultaneous test design, test execution and learning with an emphasis on learning”
Here is an example of a test charter created by a tester, who will later add his observations and findings into it when executing and share it with his team-
For teams that are larger in size, more mature in their exploratory test skills, or for teams in need of more structure around their exploration, there are many tools that support the exploratory testing by providing standardized ways of creating, assigning and fulfilling these test charters.
Exploratory Testing Tools
Test Management tools like PractiTest, that support exploratory and session based testing practices can give your QA coverage that extra advantage, by enabling all various testing efforts managed under “one roof”.
Exploratory tests tools allow you to define Charters for your Exploratory Test Sessions, document your notes, defects and observations as annotations as you are running your tests, report bugs directly from your runs, and finally to review your exploratory test sessions with colleagues in order to gather feedback. They also help time your session and keep a track of the history and logs of past runs of your test sessions.
These features of an automated exploratory test tool will help create as well as manage exploratory test sessions and also help easily combine them with scripted as well as automated test runs.
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So, if you are looking to improve your testing practices, add Exploratory Tests to the mix of Scripted and Automated tests to push up your software quality!
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