Saturday, July 2, 2011

Exploratory Testing in Agile Teams

Sometimes the Test Team has some doubts that when all the test cases are automated and when at each story level there is testing happening, "do we really need to exploratory testing?". "Is exploratory testing applicable in incremental and iterative testing".

The answer is "Yes".

Irrespective of how much automation we can bring in and how much planned testing we do, Exploratory testing has its own place and it must be done to ensure that there is no residual defects in the system. Exploratory Testing can be well planned. During the Iteration the Developer and the Tester and sit together and conduct the exploratory testing. Automation can be used to do test setup, data generation, repetitive tasks. In the exploratory testing , each tester / developer can use his / her own skills and knowledge of the system to find the inside defects of the system. Some of the tips for doing the exploratory testing systematically is mentioned below:
  • Understand the critical features that the customer is going to use. Give focus to those modules first.
  • As a Tester /Developer, the time for the overall exploratory testing is limited. Should have a test strategy in place comprising of the focused testing approach for the critical features, troubled features (explained in the end), how to generate the test data, Techniques usage (if any)- like equivalance partitioning, orthogonal array testing techniques, Boundary value analysis, error guessing mthod etc. This strategy can help you to use the limited time very effectively.
  • Think about what the normal user would do and do those steps. Have an attitude of breaking the system and be sure that there are deep defects which are not unearthed and this is your chance to do it.
  • Use some random approach to do the testing.
  • Think about what the expert and a normal user would do.
  • Look into the troubled features during the normal testing (means during the normal testing, there may be features on which more defects may have come). Target those features and conduct some exploratory testing.

Exploratory testing may provide good insight into any of the defects which were not found during the normal testing. Always plan for exploratory testing in all the agile projects irrespective of the time availability. Plan for exploratory testing as an activity during the release and iteration planning time. It always gives good results and gives more confidence about the system.

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