In the last article, I explained the difference between explorative testing and ad-hoc testing. In this article, I will name some skills that are needed and recommend for explorative testing.
There are no hard facts like “if you have 5 years test expertise and you know this and this”, so it isn’t so easy to select the correct testing expert. But we have some stuff to discuss, grey is always more interesting than black and white. For sure it is a benefit if the test expert has test experience e.g. knowing where problems can occur, how important a general function such as login is and so on.
When a test expert test multiple or different systems some different kind of failures are well known and can so be found very easily. If the test expert finds a time zone bug in another project, he will likely search for such an issue again.
Experience in the industry or area
All the experience in the world isn’t enough if the test expert doesn’t know how the industry works. Which topic is important and which things are bugs aren’t always documented in each industry because it is “well known”. If it isn’t well known for the test expert, you could be facing some serious issues.
Experience in a special branch can help to find an issue. In my actual project – it is in the automotive sector – I know the difference between a FIN (Fahrzeug-Identifizierungsnummer ) and a VIN (vehicle identification number). It sounds similar and looks similar, but they are two different things and their confusion can generate problems. If you know of such things and are aware of it, you can write better test cases – – for example in an explorative way.
Also, your cultural background can change everything. For some cultures, it isn’t clear how a cash point work. A European citizen doesn’t need a specification of how it works. Everybody knows that you use your card, enter a PIN and your amount. Then you get your card back and then your money. But if you have another cultural background it could be possible that you don’t know how it works.
The same topic can also help you. If the system should be used globally, different types of people will use the system, so your different experiences and knowledge about different countries can help you. Due to explorative testing, a different set of test cases could be the result.
Creativity and Good Error Guessing
Last but not least, a creative mindset and good error guessing skills are needed. All the test experience in the world is not enough if you aren’t creative or good at guessing where an error could be. Sometimes it is not only necessary to find an issue, but the tester also has to explain it to the developer or the stakeholder so they understand why it is a bug. Not only will a good explanation help, but a creative way to demonstrate why it is a bug will also help. I have experienced a similar problem when a bug was reported but not accepted. So I tried the test again with my own algorithm that led to the same error. The bug was accepted and the false algorithm was corrected.
Good error guessing often starts with the feeling of where a change could have an impact. A change on a small field can impact on other pages which aren’t conjunct. Or if some problems occur often in the same place, a special check may be needed.
You see there are many things to check before you can start with explorative testing. A good skill mix is recommended but is not always easy to find for a given scenario. The explorative test method is one of the testing methods which has the most special requisition. The skill mix often isn’t suitable.
The benefits achieved when the “right” test expert is selected can be great and so a search for the perfect match can achieve valuable results. With this – more than less – guideline, you are hopefully able to staff or you know who could be the right person for explorative testing.