Exploratory is a free-style based highly skilled testing technique that helps analysts and other stakeholders to validate whether the system or application designed for users work exactly as expected.
If manual testing still exists, it is because of Exploratory testing and the fact that only humans have the ability (at least yet) to think independently, learn and apply creative solutions to emerging problems.
Exploratory testing is optimized to find defects early in the cycle and continues to evolve on the most-critical, functional aspects of any system. Maintaining minimized documentation and basic toolsets makes the success of any exploratory testing project relies largely on the skill sets of the testers.
Let’s take a look at the key skills required for Exploratory Testers
• Observational Skills
Simply from observing what’s going on with the system, exploratory testers will be able to spot strange think, raise critical business questions to spot bugs earlier in the cycle. Attention to detail will trigger their inquisitive mindset to generate possibly new hypothesis. Thus, observational skills lay the strong foundation for any exploratory testing from capturing new thoughts, documenting, pair-testing and debriefing.
• Critical Thinking
The ability to think rationally with reasoning. The systemic thinking will help uncover the relationship among hidden variables and possibly uncover high-risky bugs that won’t be simply revealed using normal thinking. This removes the biases and personal beliefs and demands valid reasons in an objective manner. The arguments that arise to justify different equations are very valuable because they form the base for newer hypothesis. A Critical thinker always weigh the implications & relative consequences and therefore will be able to make actionable recommendations to stakeholders.
• Problem Solving Skills
This important skill drive Exploratory testers to stay focused on the end goals and not sway away from it due to factors like delivery pressure, resource constraints or process complexities. Trained problem solvers employ a variety of techniques like Root-cause analysis, A/B Testing, Brainstorming, Analogy, Hypothesis Testing and divide & conquer. Especially when collectively done along with paired team members, the typical barriers like personal bias will be ruled out.
• Investigative Skills
Investigative skills are again very important to have in the entire bug finding exercise. Investigative skills utilizing methodical techniques to effectively and efficiently plan test design, freestyle research techniques, uncovering inferences from exhaustive test result documentation and interviewing test participants. The unconvincing questioning ability for finding facts to identify bugs differentiates Exploratory testers from the rest.
• Communication Skills
Last but not the least, it is very important to have clear communication skills to effectively coordinate and conduct exploratory testing sessions. The ability to have productive conversations with stakeholders and cross-functional team members is very important to clearly understand, strategize, define, execute the scope and report in any exploratory testing process.
What we discussed above are highly personalized skillsets that every exploratory tester needs to have or impart within themselves. These skillsets when combined with the testing proficiency, Industry Domain and Processes will fetch maximum results for an exploratory testing project.