Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Exploratory Testing - Innovative approach

Exploratory testing is an approach to software testing that is concisely described as simultaneous learning, test design and test execution. While the software is being tested, the tester learns things that together with experience and creativity generates new good tests to run. Exploratory testing is often thought of as a black box testing technique. Instead, those who have studied it consider it a test approach that can be applied to any test technique, at any stage in the development process. The key is not the test technique nor the item being tested or reviewed; the key is the cognitive engagement of the tester, and the tester's responsibility for managing his or her time. (Ref: Wikipedia)

In a resource crunch situation, especially, when the new features are coming in to huge extent, this innovative approach can make wonders! However appropriate planning, organizing and motivation is desirable to make this approach a success.

In short, the approach, involves, getting various stake holders like engineering team members, product managers, UX team members, customer field representatives together and perform an exploratory testing... on given feature or product. It could be simple web 2.0 product or it could be wireless device...does not matter.

As long as QA manager/lead outlines proper strategy....and a step by step representation of how to effectively perform exploratory testing or corner case testing... Once you have such step by step guide you can always give a preso to above stakeholders and get them up to speed with concept of exploratory testing. And you can pin point exact ways to make it effective and get best out of it!!

When I had conducted this approach, I had come up with 10 steps of effective ways.... think like an end user, act like an end user....relevant to the product that I wanted to get tested thoroughly,... Made sure to get buy in from VP/ Director initially by explaining them approach, impact and result! Rolled it out to engineering. Then got buy in from product manager(s). Rolled it out to them and then field representatives as they deal with customers and they know the issues or most common operations by customers.

Overall to avoid duplication of bugs, we have had everyone perform testing at the same time..no matter where they are located within USA :) And then set up IRC channel where constant communication of issues seen was going on to avoid duplication of bugs.

Result..we actually end up finding some of the corner case issues, high priority issues! We ended up adding almost 35+ test scenarios in our test repository and automating the same!!

This was very well received by my engineering team as well as product manager. Helped save a lot of QA time of performing black box - exploratory testing ..

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