Raise your Exploration Game!

Exploration is an integral part of testing. Exploring the application is a great strategy for learning about how it works, finding new information and flows, and discovering some unique bugs too! 

Many testers perform exploratory testing as a matter of course, and agile teams may make it an integral part of their tasks. But how can you up your exploration game? Simply going around the application and looking or clicking here and there surely cannot be called creative exploration.

In my article published at Testrail blog, I outline what do you need to do to bring structure to your exploratory tests and get the most useful information out of them?

Image Source- xenonstack.com

Designate time for exploration

As we get into the flow of agile and its fast-moving sprints, we focus on testing tasks for each user story and are constantly thinking of what needs to be done next. But with minimal documentation and limited time to design tests, it is imperative to understand that just executing the written or scripted tests will not be enough to ensure the feature’s quality, correctness, and sanity.

Exploratory testing needs to be counted as a separate task. You can even add it to your user story so that the team accounts for the time spent on it and recognizes the effort.

Testers can use the time to focus on the feature at hand and try out how it works, its integrations with other features, and its behavior in various unique scenarios that may or may not have been thought of while designing the scripted tests. Having exploratory testing as a task also mandates that it be done for each and every feature and gives testers that predefined time to spend on exploration. 

In my testing days, this used to be the most creative and fun aspect of my sprints, and it resulted in great discoveries, questions, insights, and defects!

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The Partnership of Testing and Checking

Human Testing is a craft that is more than executing a bunch of tests, performing clicks and actions. A tester has a unique understanding of the system and ways to critique it. Over time, the tester develops a deeper comprehension of the application and its intricacies, integrations, weak points, and history. This makes them the best judge to find out the failure points of the system and comment on its health.

The Product Risk Knowledge Gap is the difference between what we know about the product and what we need to know. The purpose of testing is to close or at least reduce this gap.

While automated checks can help in determining problems in what we know (and have scripted as checks), it may not help as much in the risk areas of what we do not know about the product. That requires exploration, creativity, intuition and domain knowledge. This is the human aspect of testing.

The creative and human aspects of testing lie with the tester, which I have experienced as well as written about a few years back as a hands-on tester myself here – https://testwithnishi.com/2014/12/31/automation-test-suites-are-not-god/

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Automated Checks-

Automated scripts have some built-in steps in the form of test data that we pre-define and verifications that we add. These steps are helpful for areas of the application that we need to check, double-check or re-check a number of times, and because these types of checks can be made explicit, they can be automated. Since the same steps will be performed the same way over and over again, it is better called “checking” rather than “testing.”

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