30 Days of Agile Testing – Exploratory Testing

Note that this post is part of a series where I am ‘live blogging’ my way through the ministry of testing’s 30 days of Agile Testing challenge.

What does my exploratory testing look like?  I have tried a few different approaches to it and my ‘process’ around it continues to develop and change as I try new things, but right now it looks something like this.


When I start testing a new feature I first do a reconnaissance session where I just try it out and see what it does and how it works and what ways I can gather more information about it (logs generated etc.).  By this point hopefully I have had a conversation with the developer and I have pretty good idea of what is involved in this feature.

Often during this first session I will find a few issues and many times while chasing down those bugs I end up in a ‘bug rabbit hole’ where I find new issues while trying to explore around an issue to reproduce it.  To help me find my way back out of the hole, I leave myself little signpost along the way in the form of notes jotted down in my notebook about where I branched.  Basically these are very short reminders to myself that there was a goal I was after which I had been distracted from.  This way I can make sure to come back later and continue on to that original goal.


At this point, I’ll have a decent idea of what is involved in the feature and I’ll make up a list in a spreadsheet of a bunch of test ideas that I want to consider. For me this list is made up of short phrases that range from a couple words to a sentence or two that serve as indicators of the kinds of things we need to dig into or think of as we test this.  I’ve started doing this in a spreadsheet rather a mind map or some other format as this seems to be the easiest way to collaborate on the testing.  Often the developer and other testers will be pulled in to work on or discuss the testing and using an online spreadsheet makes it easy to track who is looking at what and what kinds of things have been found and discussed.


In terms of tracking or recording my exploratory testing, I usually write down a few notes and comments on the kinds of things I’ve tested and those together with the test ideas make up the documentation of the testing performed.  I than add this information as a test case in the user story for this feature and go through the required QA procedures from there.


I know other people will take a more rigorous session based test management approach to exploratory testing and some will approach it with mind maps or do more planning up front. I have tried different approaches over the years but I don’t worry too much about what other people do for their testing except as things I might experiment with, because at the end of the day my approach has to be something that works well for me in making me an effective tester.

What works for you?  How do you explore the product?

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