Exploratory Testing and Agility

The continued shift from the rigid Waterfall Model to the dynamic and fast-paced Agile approach reflects the way the software development industry is changing. And with highly competitive enterprising business environments becoming the reality, Agile is the way forward.

The Agile approach definitely has its own set of merits. It endorses adaptive growth, frequent releases, higher stakeholder involvement, reduced documentation, better collaboration and increased emphasis on automation. And Agile works well with Exploratory Testing. Though exploratory testing does not have a predefined sequence of steps; it is flexible and allows testers to adapt their testing strategy depending on the findings of the test, thus making the process faster.

Parallel Testing

Source: Testing Geek

Let’s observe how exploratory is compatible to the Agile projects.

The Importance of Exploratory Testing In Agile

1. Agile development quickly adapts and adopts the changing business requirements, and exploratory testing validates these requirements in an effective and pragmatic manner. With Exploratory Testing, there is no need to invest time in authoring, preparing and approving test cases before the testing begins, and hence, the test process is fast and quick, and in sync with the agile methodology. This can help in testing significant scenarios in a limited timeline.

2. Exploratory promotes collaboration – a tenet of Agility. Without any basic requirement to gain test automation or scripting knowledge, most team members including UX designers to developers can collectively contribute to the testing efforts thus leading to a better end product.

Moreover, exploratory testers in an Agile environment get a better opportunity to interact with all the stakeholders enabling better understanding of the product and hence better test cases for efficient solutions.

3. Whenever any part of the software is released iteratively each month, both automated and manual testing is normally conducted. Exploratory testing is helpful in finding defects especially when automated software testing is not a viable option. Whenever a new feature is added to the app, the tester is required to understand and create test cases and then automate them, which is a time-consuming process. Agility, however, demands quick results, and hence, a manual adaptable approach is needed. Here, exploratory testing helps in catching the bugs quickly, and well in time. Only when the test is important enough to script and execute repeatedly, automation should be considered.

Besides, all automation is anyway not sufficient enough to ensure that the system works the way we expect, and the system has to be used by someone to ensure that, hence we rely on exploratory testing. Exploratory testing cannot, however, be a substitute for automated software testing, it rather complements it well.

4. Lack of planning and documentation may leave a few undetected bugs and risks. By means of exploratory testing, a tester properly studies and analyses the software product, identifies and detects associated risks, develops the test cases and executes them, thus leading to a quality end product. The creative thinking and quick response time are hallmarks of exploratory testing. Additionally, leveraging human intelligence and wisdom, exploratory testing offers a broader and deeper view than any automated test can.

5. In the Agile approach, exploratory testing efficiency advantage can be a blessing reducing the budget overheads and complexity of QA automation. Formal test documentation approach, on the contrary, can be prohibitive especially when the budget is tight and resources are scarce.

6. Exploratory testing uses the results from the last test to inform the next, so the test approach can be adapted for vulnerabilities or risks observed/noticed. The information can assist in focusing on the current scenario than following the test scripts written in the past. This shows its compatibility with the Agile testing approach.

7. Exploratory testing is extremely useful in complex testing scenarios where the test specifications/requirements are not clear or where the domain knowledge is lacking, or when there is little time to specify, script and test. For untested, unknown and unstable products, exploratory testing is a savior. It’s called in anytime the next test to be performed is not clear, or when testers need to go beyond the obvious, which is a common scenario.


In a nutshell, exploratory testing cannot be termed as an ad-hoc testing approach rather it refers to a thoughtful and creative testing approach tied aptly to the Agile methodologies. This results in creating an excellent synergy within the testing sphere, thus resulting in a superior quality end product in the minimum possible time.

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