The Exploratory Software Testing Mindset

Software testing for quality assurance is usually either scripted or exploratory. Scripted tests are routine examinations of performance and security that every software or update must succeed at to be released. These tests are planned and have often been used before on other software (pre-documented tests). Exploratory tests, on the other hand, are custom-designed challenges unique to the user requirements and performance demands of each release. At iLAB, we think scripted and especially automated tests have their place and time, but that all quality assurance is fundamentally exploratory. That’s why we ground all our software testing training in knowledge of testing theory: because an understanding of what kinds of testing there are and when each can be applied is essential for quality assurance professionals to adapt their approach to each situation. Here are the benefits an exploratory quality assurance testing mindset brings to a development lifecycle of any model.

Benefit One: Software Testing Reports That Are Actually Relevant

Scripted testing applies pre-determined test cases to software, then provides a report of the results. Often these documents are very long, and if a few high priority sample cases look good, the product’s quality is affirmed. What this ultimately leads to is missed bugs and performance issues. When features and functionality are tested with the end user of the tool in mind, it’s more likely issues will be discovered. However, that only matters if the tester’s exploration of the software is well-documented as they design use cases in real-time. The tester must also document errors detected, test conditions, testing process, and a list of pending issues or questions. That information, provided to developers, actually tells them something about how to improve the software.

Benefit Two: Complex Software is Fully Examined Faster

When it comes to scripted testing in a complex system, careful analysis usually determines which test cases will be prioritized and which calculated risks can be ignored in the name of expedience. However, it only takes one oversight for your software or app to end up the latest sad news story. The second benefit of exploratory testing is that test cases are defined based on user requirements, and evolve based on what the tester discovers during testing. This means software with complex user requirements can ultimately be tested with more efficiency, as long as testers have the experience to design those tests.

Benefit Three: User-Focused Software Testing Can Accelerate Innovation

Software quality assurance is often best assured when testing is conducted with an exploratory mindset, but the importance of scripted testing and automation is also larger than ever. Automating scripted tests like regression testing, security testing, or basic performance testing is an efficiency and innovation booster, but only once those tests are well-established. That automation frees up the talented quality assurance analysts and engineers on the team to not just determine if a use case is met, but also investigate how the product could improve for the user or be more secure.

Continuous development and continuous release also require continuous improvement, which isn’t possible if your software never has to rise to a challenge until the challenge is in fact a threat. At iLAB, we excel at this type of testing, and also at teaching others our approach. Whichever service you’re looking for, contact us today.