Exploratory Testing in Agile

Now days, most of the organization are prefer to adopt the Agile methodology of software development over the traditional approach of development. A tremendous shift could be seen in the IT industry towards using the agile approach, keeping in view the benefits associated with it such as

  • Adaptive growth
  • Frequent releases
  • Involvement of client/stakeholders/end-users
  • Accepts & incorporates frequent changing requirements
  • Less planning and documentation
  • Requirements evolve through consistent interaction between the teams and the client/stakeholders.

In light of the above, it may be stated that the agile approach provides the advantage of rapid software development so as to deliver the software product in a minimal time. Thus, the agile model needs some special testing methodologies, which can help in matching the speed of the testing process to that of development. Exploratory testing is one of the unique testing methodologies which fit best in the agile environment. Let's see what makes the exploratory testing a suitable and preferred testing approach for the agile development.

What is Exploratory Testing?

Before associating the exploratory testing with the agile environment, its brief introduction is necessary to gain some overview about it, which may helps in understanding the importance of exploratory testing in the agile scenario.

Exploratory testing is a unique testing methodology based on the progressive learning approach followed by a tester to carry out testing. In this technique, a tester gradually studies, analyzes and gains the insight of the software product and makes use of his/her skills, knowledge and experience to generate suitable test cases and subsequently executing them.

Basically, the need of exploratory testing arises in the event of absence of documentation work, planning, knowledge of the product, or when a tester wishes to learn about the software product in order to generate more effective test scenarios and cases. However, there is no hard and fast rule to use exploratory testing only in the situation of non-availability of documentation work and planning. It may be carried out anytime and fits best for any environment.

Need and Importance of Exploratory Testing in Agile

Agile environment demands the rapid execution of the involved processes in multiple & small iterations, so the testing also needs to follow the same approach to match the compatibility with other processes involved in the agile development. Here are some of the benefits associated with the exploratory testing practice, which reflect its need and importance in agile.

  • Agile development involves the incorporation of frequently incoming & changing requirements in the software product which needs to be validated through testing. Exploratory testing provides the solution to this problem as the testing approach requires progressive and continuous study and analysis of the software product and simultaneously developing the test cases along with its execution throughout the testing phase, which fulfils the need of validating the frequently changing requirements in the software product.
  • Software development using the agile approach may involve ignorance of unidentified risks due to lack of planning and documentation work. These risks may affect the process or the product in any ways at a later stage. However, with exploratory testing, a tester requires to study and analyse the software product, which may also include identification and detection of the risks associated with it. Thus, a tester, keeping in view the risks involved and other related information gained through study of the product, develops the test cases and executes it, thereby minimizes the probability of risk occurrence.
  • As exploratory testing is a real time testing activity, which is carried out using "creative thinking and quick response" skills and useful experience of the testers, it may help them to manage and execute the testing activity, quickly and efficiently for each multiple and small development iterations of shorter duration.
  • Exploratory testing involves testers having wide variety of knowledge, skills and experience to carry out the testing of the software irrespective of planning and documentation. Thus, these testers fit best for the agile environment as they can quickly think, analyse and design test cases for each incoming and changing requirements.
  • Exploratory testing comprises of study and analysis of the software application to design and develop test cases. However, in the agile environment, the exploratory testers will have the opportunity to frequently interact with the client/stakeholder and the teams such as development team, business team, design team, etc. This enables the testers to have a better understanding of the product and subsequently coming out with the more effective and efficient test cases.
  • Exploratory testing requires testers to adapt themselves according to prevailing condition and environment. Thus, these testers are the most suitable candidates for the agile environment to adapt themselves in proportion to the frequent changing scenarios and requirements.
  • Exploratory testing is an effective testing methodology to avoid the budget overhead and complexity of the automation for the small and multiple cycles of agile development.


With the advantages of using the exploratory testing in the agile environment, some limitations are also associated with it such as

  • Unable to measure the testing efforts, progress and efficiency.
  • Undefined scope and objectives of the testing process.
  • Undefined scope and objectives of the testing process.
  • Lack of skilled and experienced testers.

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Agile methodology is a most preferred and widely used development model to deliver software product in a minimal possible time. Considering and adopting the exploratory test strategy for the agile environment may help QA team to deal manage and validate the continuous incoming and changing requirements and feedback of the stakeholders/client in an effective and pragmatic manner.

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