Monday, July 30, 2018

There's such thing as low quality exploratory testing

I'm picking up weak signals, and one of those signals recently has been suggesting that exploratory testing isn't every tester's bread and butter.

First it was an organization that introduced the agile testing idea that developers test. This left testers of traditional background wondering what they would now contribute, and finding themselves unable to figure out what depth in  testing would look like. There was cries of dislike for exploratory testing, not knowing what they should do not to repeat the tests developers were already doing and realizing they were no longer able to find problems.

Then it was was an organization that tried out exploratory testing for a limited timeframe before it was time for the traditional test case lead manual testing. The testers were again filled with despair on needing more structure, and expecting the structure to emerge from somewhere outside themselves.

If and when there is something core to exploratory  testing in addition to learning, self-management is it. You need to be able to make your own plans, create your own structures of support by selecting from multitudes of examples and reflecting to your own results. Here's one example of what exploring with intent could look like.

The other side of the coin is that people who are not working in exploratory testing find themselves frustrated with the lack of challenge, having to manage and maintain tons of test cases and still getting continuously feedback of missing relevant bugs. Yet when they get out of it, they struggle if they cannot find the depth: the multidisciplinary nature of testing and the vast option of perspectives the others testing could still be missing.

Exploratory testing is skilled. It means the most common way of it showing up in projects is with low quality exploratory testing, and that has very little to add on top of what developers are already capable of doing.