Reaping the True Value of Exploratory Testing
Exploratory testing (ET) as a valuable technique to gauge the quality of a product under development has existed for a long time and has become invaluable in the quality journey of several products, large and small, over the years. Despite its long history, its acceptance and use across organizations is not standardized. While some organizations completely rely on exploratory testing, some use it as a supplemental technique to scripted testing approaches. There is no right or wrong answer; however, it is important to plan an ET effort and to ensure that the entire team, including internal project sponsors, understands the value proposition.
Teams have realized that there are several important parameters that can be used to gauge the efficacy of a quality assurance effort, and they are focused on user experience, user feedback, and defect management instead of just the number of tests designed and executed. Teams have started to appreciate the value of ET more than ever before, especially since the advent of mobile apps and the heavy end-user focus that mobile computing brought.
In most scenarios, ET still comes in handy to augment a planned test effort that the quality team takes on through a scripted approach, either automated or non-automated. Teams have come to realize that looking beyond the scripts has a wide range of benefits, including understanding the product at a holistic end-user level, sharing the areas to test among teams, and breaking the monotony that a tester may otherwise face. The strategies that can be adopted here are plenty: performing ET within the testing team, assigning new owners for each area of test, testing across the product’s end-to-end workflow, and testing across compatibility and support matrices.
Here are some of the core best practices to note in an ET effort:
- Evaluate quality outcomes with as much rigor as in a scripted effort.
- Create test scripts for valid defects found through ET that can be included in the regression test suite moving forward.
- Plan the ET effort upfront and allocate time and money for the same—whether it be a daily, weekly, or monthly task.
In organizations where ET is the only quality effort, work on gathering critical pieces of information around test scenarios and defects to gradually build at least a core test suite. This is especially the case with start-ups that may not have all of the resources for a formal quality effort.
Plan to branch out and branch in the ET effort to maximize results and encourage the team to become a true enabler of quality. For instance, enable the quality team to conduct ET within product and business teams, with users, as well as at every tester’s level. Crowd-sourced testing as a practice that leverages user feedback has also given a boost to ET in the last decade.
When these best practices are accommodated for and communicated upfront, stakeholders buy in early on, making ET an even more enjoyable and valuable experience.