Today when most of the organizations are using agile methodology, effective testing has become a challenge. As we know that agile is an iterative approach to software development and also, it is time boxed. It means you have a certain time frame in which you have to gather requirements, plan, develop, test and release (and repeat!). if developer gives you the code to test at the very end of the release week then you would need to either delay the release or test effectively so that you don’t miss crucial bugs.
Exploratory testing is the freestyle or independent testing where you do not need to follow any set of test cases or scenarios, all you need to use is your experience and your knowledge of the requirements specified by the client. It can be beneficial in an agile environment to a large extent.
In this article, we are going to see the importance of exploratory testing in the projects which follow agile methodology. Exploratory testing as we know is the continuous learning approach. You don’t have any structured test cases here but random scenarios based on your past experiences and your level of understanding of the requirements.
Advantages Of Exploratory Testing In Agile Projects:
Below are some of the advantages of using exploratory testing in agile projects:
1. Time Management:
As I mentioned above, agile environment has tight deadlines and team gets only couple of week to finish everything, it is very important to understand and test (especially all the new features added) in that available time frame. Exploratory testing gives a better way to deal with tight deadlines. Once you have understood the requirements clearly, you can perform exploratory testing effectively. It is also being seen as a freestyle testing where you don’t have to define every test case you perform but note down the ones which lead to a bug. This way not only you are putting efforts at the right place, but also, finding the defects which could be missed due to limited available time.
2. Catches Important Bugs:
So when you iteratively release a part of the software every month or every couple of weeks, you have automated some regression test cases, some functional test cases and some test cases which can only be manually tested. These are useful in the case of already existing features, if in this iteration, there are some new features added to the application then you would need to understand them properly then write test cases around them and lastly, automate them. Is not it a lot of work when you have limited time in hand? Exploratory testing mainly focuses on newly added features which are prone to have more bugs then already tested and existing features. You are not only catching the important bugs by performing exploratory testing but also, helping your team to meet the deadline.
3. Gives Effective Test Cases:
This point is the continuation of the previous point of important bugs found using exploratory testing. When you have found say 10 bugs in the new feature, you can note down each scenario and make test cases out of them. These would the set of test cases which are mainly focused on the new feature and are effective enough to find important bugs. For example, if you have to test a mobile application, you can try to break that application by performing random user scenarios, this way you will actually be using the application like a real user and can find bugs which are most likely to happen when user use that application in real time environment.
4. Enhance Understanding Of Overall Application:
When you do a freestyle testing or unstructured testing where you are not obligated to run only a set of test scenarios, you can be so creative with it. Isn’t it? Once you have understood the requirements clearly, you can perform exploratory test cases to get the exact idea of the functionality and more you use that application freely, more you know and understand how it works! If you are doing exploratory testing in every release, then you will feel the difference in your understanding of the application has improved to a large extent.
5. Helps In Case Of Rapid Change Of Requirements:
Agile environment is kind of unpredictable when we talk about requirements. Client can change his requirements anytime which is why agile is so flexible to use and develop. But for testing team, it becomes a challenge to test the changed requirements in the mid of the release cycle effectively. In such cases, exploratory testing is of huge benefit since you don’t get time to plan your test cases in advance here and all you have is the limited time and the new requirement to test. Without getting panic, you can test the most important scenarios and can be assured that application is stable.
6. Compatible With Small Duration Sprints Of Scrum Project Methodology:
As we know that the sprint in scrum methodology are of very small duration which varies from two weeks to a month or sometimes little more than that. In such a case, the exploratory testing is a great boon to find the bugs in the new changes as quickly as possible which could be easily fixed by the development team and the entire scrum team can catch up all the tasks within the deadline of that sprint very efficiently. Exploratory testing is also beneficial with other agile project methodologies such as Kanban, XP, etc. In XP (extreme) programming methodology, the development cycles are smaller than that of scrum methodology. Therefore, the exploratory testing is very useful for XP project methodology as well.
We can automate, execute and report test cases in the given time frame of the agile environment but the importance of exploratory testing cannot be neglected. Looking at above advantages, it is worth executing at least once during the release cycle. It is not only enhancing the quality of the product but also, makes tester more efficient.
About Author: This article is written by STC team member Aparajita J. We will be more than happy to know any uncovered aspect around Agile Testing. Nice website for Agile Testing article: www.mountaingoatsoftware.com.
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