Exploratory Testing vs Automation: Why both should coexist?

Building an efficient testing strategy is an integral part of any software development process. The success of the software depends highly on QA as it improves the overall quality and efficiency of the software. There are several testing techniques and tools available, that are used by companies to improve the quality of their developed software. Testing tools reduce the number of test cases to be executed, increase test coverage, offer a nearly hundred percent test result, and help to identify test conditions that are otherwise difficult to recognize manually.

The advancement at the technological front has provided the tester with inexhaustible list of techniques for a detailed testing process within an agile ecosystem. Among the different techniques used by organizations, exploratory and automated testing are popular for the robust functionality and better user experience they offer. Though exploratory and automation testing have their set of advantages, it is important for them to coexist within a system for better outcomes.

Exploratory and automation testing explained

Exploratory testing is a kind of software testing where test cases are written during or after testing processes. The testers check the system on the fly and strategize to decide “what is the test objective” before the test execution. This kind of testing is widely used for testing agile models for effective results. Exploratory testing is a kind of playful activity for a tester to utilize their expertise and scale up their skills. During the exploratory testing process, the tester utilizes their skill to identify, explore, and learn more about the problems and objectives to perform software application testing in detail before planning, structuring, and performing actual testing.

Automation testing is a software testing technique where the tester usually leverages automated testing software tools to execute a well-defined test case suite. Unlike exploratory testing, automation testing involves less human intervention, which increases the coverage, and speed of test execution.

The need for exploratory and automation testing to work hand in hand

With the growing technology to offer convenience to the end-users, companies are investing in advanced development process. Such systems run on complex algorithms and requires specialized testing solutions to handle the complexity, increase accuracy & performance, and reduce time-to-market. Exploratory testing or testing with a loosely defined plan / objective is helpful in identify unexpected behavior. However, considering that “net-new” functionality often forms a very small portion of the overall software behavior, it is important that testing efforts cover “regression” to an extent that is required and economically viable.  Test -Automation helps increase the volume of tests that can be executed in a fixed period of time while reducing cost-to-test. 

Automation testing performs complete end-to-end testing, covering all aspects like user-acceptance, regression, performance, and security. They are popular for testing complex systems with ease and reduced time, without compromising on accuracy and consistency. Automation testing involves a detailed planning and execution protocol. On the other hand, exploratory testing focuses on minimal planning but explores an elaborate test execution process. They are most suitable for testing of multiple versions of a software using agile methodologies, and also suitable for features of an upcoming software.

Automation testing aims at working on test plans, test cases, test steps, and test results, while exploratory testing involves discovery, investigation, and learning. Hence, when both of them go hand in hand, it is likely to create a software with minimal or no errors and working flawlessly. On the event of exploratory and automation testing coexisting, they complement each other and enhance the software with each version release.

The key differences between test automation and exploratory testing

  • Tester skill is a key to exploratory testing, and for automation testing minimal manual scripting is required for achieving expected results.
  • Exploratory testing emphasizes on adaptability and learning, whereas automation testing emphasizes on prediction and decision making.
  • Exploratory testing is an investigative procedure where testing modules can mold according to the tester’s spontaneous decisions for optimizing the testing methodology. In automation testing, the tester follows a predefined protocol by confirming all the testing requirements, so there is no scope of improvement in automation testing.
  • Exploratory testing is not random testing; it is ad hoc testing with a procedural approach to finding bugs and debriefing. Automation testing is an approach to use a framework of workflows for effective outcomes.

Yethi’s test automation solutions for banking and financial sector

At Yethi, we can conclude a wide range of testing activities for diverse banking applications. We deliver solutions leveraging both practices of exploratory and automation testing. Our team brings expertise at the intersection of banking operations and software testing, enabling us to understand the “business intent” of the software and design and execute a test-strategy to effectively and efficiently cover any software deployed within a banking/financial institution. Automation testing is best in testing cases for business-critical applications where test cases require repeated execution, which is often time-consuming. Yethi’s test automation tool, Tenjin, is a 6th generation, robotic test automation platform that allows you to build and maintain test-automation. Targeted at a business analyst, it is a code-less platform that can be leveraged by people with no programming experience.