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Should our Exploratory Testing Be Automated?

Unit Tests
Exploratory Testing Tool for GitHub and Jira | TestQuality
Exploratory tests are always different tests that are created and conducted at the same time. According to this concept, their automation may appear unnatural. Nonetheless, the deployment of automation based on predetermined and unpredictable circumstances may be of interest: the detection of business flaws.

Exploratory testing emphasizes discovery, research, and learning, whereas automation testing focuses on test designs, test cases, test procedures, and test outcomes. As a result, when both of them operate together, it is more probable that a software with few or no flaws and that works flawlessly would be produced.

In a previous blog post we discussed How to develop a Structured Exploratory testing strategy and we introduced why it is the real asset to exceptional functionality and superb UX if you want your QA to go above and beyond basic expectations. Executing functional, regression-based scripted test cases is the minimal requirement for verifying that your product functions as intended while testing online and mobile apps. Scripted functional testing, on the other hand, can only confirm that the system works as intended and can easily overlook edge situations that you would never think to test.

Exploratory Testing by principles

The exploratory testing principle is simple, but it requires a calm environment and plenty of time: a user, who is typically a business expert in the field implemented by the software, decides to explore a part of the software by carrying out a complete business scenario that he or she deems relevant.

Exploratory tests are frequently related with functional tests in software testing typology because they are part of a family of software tests classified as high-level "business" tests: their goal is to check the program's capacity to carry out the whole operations for which it was built. These procedures may include numerous organizational entities of the corporation, various information systems, and various processes, which is why testing scenarios are of relevance.

In terms of organizational benefits, having an exploratory testing policy is extremely beneficial: the validation team is a wealth of information and knowledge, and having them work on high-level scenarios allows them to deal with a customer case that is conducive to new ideas: evolution of functions, of the User interface.

High-level business test automation

The automation of high-level business tests can be fairly difficult in some circumstances: the combination of multiple developed functionalities might provide a plethora of scenarios, all of which are complimentary and all of which can be replicated by an end user.

Furthermore, the proliferation of execution environments may force the capacity to replicate similar circumstances on other platforms while implementing the same functionality.

To address these two challenges, TestQuality is a test management solution that offers these two key pillars: the capacity to execute multi-channel tests and the flexibility to customize the tests, particularly through the use of CSV or JSON files. These two characteristics alone enable us to address this issue by allowing us to rerun the same test across several contexts or by controlling the combinatorial complexity of the tests using different configurations.

Exploratory testing are a great approach to find business bugs.

Unfortunately, exploratory testing is frequently underutilized in software testing due to a lack of time on teams, despite the fact that it is critical and complimentary to functional testing.
In certain situations, they even lead to the detection of functional flaws, such as display issues, data issues, stopped functions, and so on.

In some circumstances, it is feasible to realize a business scenario that is unachievable in reality, or to fail to reproduce a scenario that should be doable. In this situation, we discovered what we call a "business" bug.

What should you do if you discover a company bug?

When confronted with a business bug, there are two options:

  1. The program does not correspond to the specifications; we have a defect that reproduces under certain scenarios that have not been checked in our plans, whether human or automated.
  2. The software complies to what was stated, but corresponds to a combinatorial that was not given: it is usually impossible to explain all of a software's functional possibilities, and we have entered a grey region. Testers who understand the underlying business are able to characterize the intended behavior of the application, which is different from the one they have just experienced. This highlights the subject of having the test teams work very early in the development process, directly with the functional architects, product owners, and so on, to avoid a repeat of this problem, which is typically a good practice because it can avert undesired developments.

In both circumstances, fixing the problem and creating a new test case will allow you to expand your plans, describe the intended behavior of the application, and reassure the validation team about the tested tool's ability to handle a more complicated scenario.

What about automation?

It is always recommended to fix the "business bug" by adding controls during the execution of the various functions.

Also, it is a good option to run an automated test that replicates the "business problem" and checks that it does not reproduce. This is the essence of what TestQuality could offer as a Test Management tool with the use of test and Cycles for running groups of tests repeatedly.

In general, it is crucial to constantly cover bug fixes with automated non-regression tests connected to the bugs, guaranteeing that they do not reoccur: it is extremely uncomfortable for a client to report a bug in version N, only to have it solved in version N+1 and then recur in version N+2.

The concept of creating a Cycle for a repeated group of tests that are needed to run

Finally, when an exploratory test uncovers a business bug, it is beneficial to automate the scenario and add it to the functional test battery. And, if the automation of an exploratory test appears to be overly complicated due to the test's combinatorial structure, keep in mind that TestQuality includes features to create and organize test cases in a global test repository - with preconditions, steps, attachments, and more. For each test you can add steps, preconditions, and expected results. Link your tests to requirements, group in folders and more.

The aim of a Test management tool like TestQuality is to manage and monitor the testing process from test case creation and organization, to running tests and analyzing test results and trends. A good test management solution will assist team members in creating and organizing test cases, managing testing requirements, scheduling tests, informing testers what to test next, executing tests efficiently, and finally tracking and monitoring testing results, progress and trends. Ultimately an effective test case management software solution assists an organization in creating and delivering high-quality and defect-free products.

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