August 26, 2010

What specifics affect Exploratory Testing ?

Here is a list that affects exploratory testing:
· The mission of the particular test session
· The tester skills, talents, preferences
· Available time and other resources
· The status of other testing cycles for the product
· How much the tester knows about the product
The goal of testing needs to be understood first before the work begins. This could be the overall mission of the test project or could be a particular functionality / scenario. The mission is achieved by asking the right questions about the product, designing tests to answer these questions and executing tests to get the answers. Often the tests do not completely answer, in such cases we need to explore. The test procedure is recorded (which could later form part of the scripted testing) and the result status too.
The tester needs to have a general plan in mind, though may not be very constrained. The tester needs to have the ability to design good test strategy, execute good tests, find important problems and report them. He simply has to think out of the box.
Time available for testing is a critical factor. Time falls short due to the following reasons:
  • Many a time in project life cycles, the time and resources required in creating the test strategy, test plan and design, execution and reporting is overlooked. Exploratory testing becomes useful since the test plan, design and execution happen together.
  • Also when testing is essential on a short period of notice
  • A new feature is implemented
  • Change request come in much later stage of the cycle when much of the testing is done with
In such situations exploratory testing comes handy.
Practicing Exploratory Testing
A basic strategy of exploratory testing is to have a general plan of attack, but also allow yourself to deviate from it for short period of time.
In a session of exploratory testing, a set of test ideas, written notes (simple English or scripts) and bug reports are the results. This can be reviewed by the test lead / test manager.
Ø Test Strategy
It is important to identify the scope of the test to be carried. This is dependent on the project approach to testing. The test manager / test lead can decide the scope and convey the same to the test team.
Ø Test design and execution
The tester crafts the test by systematically exploring the product. He defines his approach, analyze the product, and evaluate the risk
Ø Documentation
The written notes / scripts of the tester are reviewed by the test lead / manager. These later form into new test cases or updated test materials.

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