How relevant is exploratory testing to the Agile practice of software development? First, let us look at what it means. On its part, this software testing method is defined as a simultaneous mode of learning, test designing, and executing. In recent years, exploratory testing has evolved and gained importance as a form of end-to-end product testing to discover defects and bugs.
Exploratory testing is valid in any Agile environment and enables QA engineers to keep pace with the fast pace of Agile-based software development projects. Exploratory testing values the role of a software tester and imbibes many Agile values such as:
- Quick response to change
- Ease of collaboration with customers
- Working software iterations
Further, it can even complement automation testing by using automated checks for any regression problems and focusing only on new product features.
What is Exploratory Testing?
Exploratory testing can be defined as the simultaneous test designing and execution process. Unlike “traditional” testing methods, it does not restrict testing to a predefined set of instructions. Rather it encourages the tester to explore and discover potential testing cases in any application.
For instance, a software tester can create a test “idea” at the start and then explore the target application to create additional tests for successfully testing the application. With minimum planning, software testers can use their expertise to determine their next action step “on the fly.”
Why is exploratory testing gaining importance for today’s application development? Today, application companies demand continuous testing and integration to meet changing customer expectations and market demands. A structured approach to software testing (based on defining set test cases) is no longer adequate. With exploratory testing, testing teams can now convert a “user story” (with a sequence based on user persona) into a test case.
How does this type of testing elevate Agile? Let’s explore next.
How Exploratory Testing Elevates Agile Practices
Here are five ways in which exploratory testing can benefit and elevate Agile practices and methodology:
Improved time management
As we know, the Agile methodology is all about fixed time “sprints” within which development teams need to complete their planned tasks. Similarly, testing teams need to complete testing new features in the available time frame. Exploratory testing improves time management by directing team efforts into actual product testing, instead of preparing detailed test cases.
This form of “freestyle” testing also detects software bugs or defects. This could be otherwise missed by “traditional” testing approaches in the fixed timeframe.
Continuous improvement (CI)
In the age of DevOps and Agile, the key is to provide an environment of continuous improvement (CI), deployment (CD), and testing (CT). Be it any software product, there is a growing demand for regular software updates and enhancements, which requires faster application development and continuous deliveries.
The Agile framework enables CI/CD across the software lifecycle. Exploratory testing can complement this need with its inherent design and execution. However, testing teams can now continually keep testing applications, receiving feedback, and incorporating changes for an optimized product.
Effective test cases
Exploratory testing mostly focuses on finding defects in new product features instead of existing functionalities. With exploratory testing, testers “use” the application like any end-user and find defects when using the application in a real-life scenario. Thus, it can deliver effective test cases that focus on product features (when used by end-users) and finding critical bugs.
For instance, mobile testing is all about testing a mobile application and trying to find defects in various user scenarios. Exploratory testing can be applied to the approach of a “man in a car trying to reach his destination” and using techniques like:
- Using GPS navigation tools to reach his place.
- Taking a random navigation route.
- Asking his friend (or a passer-by stranger) for the right direction
More than just testing
As the business focus shifts from merely performing “manual” or repetitive tasks to achieving business goals, exploratory testing is much more than another testing approach. Automation testing can now perform most of the regular testing tasks. Exploratory testing can expand the horizon by ensuring that applications work according to business expectations.
Exploratory testing enables QA teams to design an efficient test management system, which can capture and store the technical expertise of their team members. Besides ensuring high-quality software products, this enables Agile teams to keep pace with frequent releases.
The diversity of the Agile team means that different stakeholders, including QA testers, product managers, UI/ UX teams, and business analysts are now evaluating the product. This also means lesser chances of a software bug or defect “slipping through” and reaching the end-user.
Besides faster detection of defects, continuous improvement and testing translate into a continual cycle of product improvements and features. Further, QA teams can now test the applications more freely, thus improving their product knowledge and understanding.
Finally, an Agile project environment ensures that it can respond efficiently to changing customer requirements and implement the changes in the middle of a release cycle. Hence, Exploratory testing is best adapted to changing requirements and designed to provide a stable product at any time.
Why ACCELQ for Exploratory Testing?
When it comes to continuous test automation, ACCELQ has been recognized as a technology leader by Forrester Wave in 2020. As a cloud-based automation testing platform, ACCELQ is breaking all silos between manual and automated testing. In concise, enabling product development companies to leverage the benefits of both forms of testing.
We believe that automated testing is not for replacing “human” testing professionals but to work as a powerful aide for any Agile project environment. On its part, exploratory testing is designed to elevate the role of QA professionals from simply writing test cases to evaluating the product from the end user’s perspective.