October 7, 2012

How to get started with Exploratory Testing

In a previous article, we defined Exploratory Testing. Today, we explain how to get started using Exploratory Testing in your own organisation.

How to get started

Before you begin testing, you may want to break the system down into smaller parts that the testers can get an overview of.

Then the testers or test manager should create a test plan that lists the areas of the system the team needs to explore, and which parts of the system they should focus on.

It’s also a good idea to specify which testing tools the team should use during the testing phase.

The list of areas to be tested should contain information about the parts of the system that need to be tested, a high-level description of the testing approach, and what results the testers can expect to see; and of course it doesn’t hurt to set a rough time limit. In exploratory testing, it’s always good to follow a well thought-out strategy.

The strategy for testing a Windows application, for example, might be to test all the menus from left to right.

During testing, be sure to keep a log so afterwards you’ll to be able to say what the team has tested.

Tip: You can also use the log as test data if you need to repeat the tests at a later date.

Exploratory testing has some similarities to ad hoc testing, but don’t confuse the two. Ad hoc testing is performed without a predetermined plan or pre-specified test areas. Ad hoc testing does help in the search for defects, but the approach is completely unstructured. In ad hoc testing, it’s often difficult to reproduce errors and to keep track of what you’ve tested. It’s also difficult to say afterwards how much of the system has been tested.

Exploratory testing doesn’t preclude traditional testing using test cases. The difference is that in exploratory testing you plan what to test, but leave how it should be tested up to the tester’s creativity.

The optimal approach is a balanced combination of these testing techniques.

In the next article about Exploratory Testing which we will publish this week, we will focus on How To Streamline and Supercharge your Exploratory Testing.

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