Nicky Tests Software: Introducing people to Exploratory Testing Part II

Friday, June 8, 2018

Introducing people to Exploratory Testing Part II

It's been over 6 months since I posted my initial post on Introducing people to Exploratory Testing Part I and I have a few updates to share.

Reception of Exploratory Testing
From testers, the reception has been mainly really good. People on our project are eager to learn something new and learn a different approach to testing.

Here are excerpts of two feedback we have received:
1. By doing exploratory testing here it doesn't restrict my testing. It invites me to investigate further and also be able to pinpoint problems better. This leads to better and more precise defects being created also.

Another benefit that we've seen with ET is that we can feel more confident about the testing that has been done. Usually the checks(test cases) that has been created before, only covers the minimal required. Usually the checks are created directly from Acceptance criterias and also only covers those
2. Exploratory testing gave me more freedom to think more, analyse more and test more. So it helped me to find issues earlier and deliver product with better quality.

Some concerns that were raised in the workshops (more about the workshops before) include how to pass over the test cases to another team (e.g. System Integration Test team and Automation test team) and how to know if something passed or not.

Ideally all of the testing should be handled within a scrum team, so the first concern is rather redundant under our current team set-up, but when the concern was raised a few months ago (as I'm writing this blog post a few months late) it was valid as we were going through a transition during that time. In terms of knowing if something passed or not, we'd like to encourage more of a "informative" mentality.

Workshops given
My colleague on my project, Maria Kedemo, has given a few workshops on Exploratory Testing to testers on our project to teach testers on our project what Exploratory Testing is and how to do SBTM (that's the approach we are focusing here at the moment).

At the moment we don't have any workshops scheduled - but the Test Community leaders on our project plan to discuss this and figure out what information we can share that would be most beneficial to testers on our project.

Presentation to Test Managers about our project
About two weeks ago, I gave a presentation to Test Managers about how our project is tackling documentation without test cases - this presentation also focused a lot on how we document our testing without test cases, using charters.

I started off by describing what Exploratory Testing is and is not - to (hopefully) get them to understand, what I mean when I use the term in the presentation. I then talked a bit about what SBTM is and what a charter is.

I then showed an example charter I used in a past feature so they could see what it looks like (I didn't want this to be theoretical, I wanted them to see what we do and how we do it)

After a delving deeper into how we test on our project and document things, I stated exactly how we transitioned from test cases to Exploratory Testing in our project - we started off with a pilot in one team, slowly spread it to other teams, organised workshops and adapted to the testing tool we were forced to use. Adapting to the test tool we were forced to use didn't affect the ET itself, it just affected how we attached our charters to the ET.

Some questions (that I remember) that arose after the presentation included:

  • Has the quality of the software improved since we started this approach?
  • How do you use the testing tool, CLM, to record testing?
  • How do people find it?
  • Does everyone on our project do ET?

Challenges ahead
One challenge we still have ahead of  us is around expectations of what Exploratory Testing has to offer. There's still a misconception that it is a strict replacement for Test Cases and that you should be able to measure progress by counting the number of charters. It took a bit of time to get rid of the pass/fail mentality that test cases encourages, but people still like to count something so for now upper management are making do with counting charters.

Another thing is getting people to do Exploratory Testing properly. It seems to me some people are just using it as an excuse to skip test cases and do ad-hoc testing and not document anything whatsoever - we are working on handling this and figuring out how to give testers enough freedom to explore without doing a "big brother" situation where we constantly monitor everyone. (We would like to show trust).

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