What is Exploratory Testing? Why When do we require Examples – (Updated 2023)

Exploratory testing definition: Exploratory testing is the approach, to an application’s evaluation, which integrates three things – exploration of the application with design of test scenarios and beginning of the actual testing process. Unlike pre-scripted instructions, exploratory testing needs a tester to listen, read, think and report, effectively and rigorously, thus making this approach as productive (in terms of revealing critical information) as its scripted counterpart.

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Here are some major reasons why exploratory testing should be incorporated in the process:

  • It helps the tester quickly identify major discrepancies, thus helping to develop the application to meet actual-world requirements of end users.
  • It’s cognitively structured compared to the procedural framework of scripted testing.
  • It’s an approach and not a technique. The next course of actions is governed by the current course of actions.
  • It’s significantly teachable and manageable.
  • Exploratory testing itself is highly useful but when dovetailed with other testing processes, it becomes a powerful way to understand the application in a better manner, build better functional tests and finally enhance the quality of the application.

When do we require exploratory testing?

It’s required in the scenarios given below:

  • To understand how the application works, what functionality it executes and how its interface looks like.
  • To identify historically and untested buggy functionality of the application.
  • To compel the application to provide evidence of its capabilities in terms of functionality for which it was developed.
  • To minimize test script writing.
  • To find new questions and new information.
  • When advance iteration is required.
  • When new testers enter the project.
  • The testing team consists of adept testers.
  • The application is critical enough.

Managing exploratory testing

Exploratory test management goes through the following 5 stages:

  1. 1. Creation of Bug Taxonomy (classification):
  • Categorize prevalent types of faults detected in earlier projects.
  • Scrutinize the main cause/analysis of the faults or problems.
  • Detect the risks and create ideas to evaluate the application.
  1. 2. Test Charter:
  • Test charter should propose What to test, The process of testing, Areas that need to be looked upon
  • Test ideas are the initiating points of exploration testing.
  • Test charter aids how an end user could utilize the application.
  1. 3. Time Box:
  • It includes two testers working together up to a minimum time frame of 90 minutes.
  • Any interrupted time shouldn’t be there in that 90 minutes’ session.
  • Time box can have extension or reduction of 45 minutes.
  • This session motivates testers to react to the response of the application and to prepare for the accurate outcome.
  1. 4. Results Reviewing:
  • Assessment of the faults
  • Getting educated from testing
  • Study of coverage areas
  1. 5. Debriefing:
  • Compilation of output results
  • Comparison between the results and the charter
  • Check for need of any additional testing

During an exploratory test, following points need to be covered:

  • Mission of the testing should be absolutely clear
  • Keeping notes on what requires to be tested, requirement of the testing and the evaluation of the application quality
  • Tracking of issues and questions raised during the testing
  • Pairing of the testers for successful testing

What to leverage from exploratory testing?

Exploratory testing is a part of Agile testing continuum that ranges from casual exploratory testing to proper testing scripts. Most testing engagements require a merger of various testing approaches, making the most out of each to harvest optimum value from testing efforts.

During the casual exploratory testing, the application’s basic functionality is captured, by formulating a practical decomposition of application space, within a spreadsheet or test management tool. Then this practical decomposition is verified with development, production and business support teams, and proper adjustments are made.

Now skilled testers are assigned against certain application areas while the practical decomposition acts like a check-list. At the beginning, focus of the testers should stay on four prime goals: learning about application space, finding and publishing defects, capturing test case names and confirming the practical decomposition.

Based on the information gained, the requirement of additional testing process is decided to meet software quality goals and testing velocity. Leverage the information obtained from continuing formal exploratory testing can help develop an itemized inventory of test cases. This inventory should be formally scripted and automated using automation techniques and keyword-based test case design.

Here, the key lies in the perfect blend of techniques, tools and skills that pave way for the highest possible opportunity to lower production issues and enhance product quality.

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Final words

When you are solving puzzles, perhaps you have noted how the puzzle changes the puzzling. As you dive into the process of solving a puzzle, its particulars emerge, which often influences your tactics for solving it. This is the truth that lies at the heart of exploratory testing.

Though testing is, in itself, quite complicated, effective and strategic use of exploratory testing can tame that complexity to a significant extent and help in the development of high-quality applications at a rapid pace.

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