What it often misses are edge cases, which are discovered through User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and are tested based on user personas. On the other hand, exploratory testing is random or unstructured in nature and can reveal bugs that would go undiscovered during structured phase of testing.
With exploratory testing, testers can play around with a user story that follows a certain sequence. Testers can annotate defects, add assertions and voice memos, and create documentation on the fly. This is how a user story is converted into a test case. This information can also be used for QA.
Effectively, test execution is implemented without formally authoring test steps. The exploratory testing tool then becomes a precursor to automation. It helps formalize the findings and document it automatically. With the help of visual feedback and collaborative testing tools, everyone can participate in exploratory testing. This enables teams to react and adapt to changes quickly – facilitating an agile workflow.
Furthermore, the tester can convert exploratory testing sequences into functional test scripts using tools for automated test case documentation. This reinforces the traditional testing process.
By integrating with tools such as Jira and test management products, teams can directly export the recorded documentation to test cases.
So, exploratory testing speeds up documentation, facilitates unit testing and helps create an instant feedback loop. As James Bach, co-founder of the Context-Driven School of Software Testing puts it, “exploratory testing encourages scientific thinking in real time.”
Exploratory testing is suited for specific testing scenarios, such as when someone needs to learn about a product or application quickly and provide rapid feedback. It helps review the quality of a product from a user perspective.
In many software cycles, an early iteration is required when teams don’t have much time to structure the tests. Exploratory testing is quite helpful in this scenario.
When testing mission-critical applications, exploratory testing ensures you don’t miss edge cases that lead to critical quality failures. Plus, use exploratory testing to aid unit test process, document the steps and use that information to test extensively during later sprints.
It is especially useful to find new test scenarios to enhance the test coverage.
Organizations must be able to strike the right balance between exploratory testing and scripted testing. Exploratory testing alone can’t offer adequate coverage and teams shouldn’t attempt it unless they have reached a few initial milestones.
Especially with any type of testing that is regulated or compliance-based, scripted testing is the way to go. In compliance based testing, where certain checklists and mandates need to be followed for legal reasons, it is advised to stick to scripted testing. One example of this is accessibility testing where several laws govern the testing protocol and there are defined standards that need to be passed.
Exploratory testing opens testing to all key stakeholders and not just trained testers. Using an exploratory testing tool, one can capture screenshots, record voice memos and annotate feedback during sessions. This enables faster and more efficient review, by people beyond the traditional software tester.
Exploratory testing complements QA teams’ existing test strategy. It comprises a series of undocumented testing sessions to discover yet unearthed issues/bugs. When combined with automated testing and other testing practices, it increases test coverage, discovers edge cases, potentially adds new features and overall improves the software product. With no structural rigidity, it encourages experimentation, creativity and discovery within the teams.
The almost instantaneous nature of feedback helps close the gaps between testers and developers. Above all, the results of exploratory testing provide a user-oriented perspective and feedback to the development teams. The goal is to complement traditional testing to find million-dollar defects that are generally hidden behind the defined workflow.
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