Posts in Exploratory Testing
Capture charter velocity
When I'm managing session-based exploratory testing, I spend a lot of time measuring charter velocity. There are a couple of key dynamics I look at:

  • charters executed per day

  • new charters created per day (broken down by charter priority level)

I typically capture these by tester, but I often look at them as a team aggregate. While I'm interested in individual trends for coaching, for a team of more than two testers, it's more interesting from a team perspective when it comes to creating trendlines. I show an example of how I use these numbers in a recent SSQ article.
Prioritizing your exploratory tests for a given session
Today's tip comes from Christina Zaza. Tina gave an experience report recently at IWST, and in that talk she outlined some of the different ways she prioritizes her tests when she sits down to do exploratory testing:

  1. run the faster tests (or quick tests) first to get them out of the way

  2. run the higher risks tests (or tests more important to the business) first, since they will likely yield the most actionable results

  3. group features together to reduce context switching while testing

Use polarities when pairing
If you do pair testing on a regular basis, try this and see what happens. Take a look at the list of different test polarities and try using them when you pair. Explicitly call out in advance, "I'll approach this session from this side of the polarity, you approach it from the other." Some polarities that work particularly well for this include: doing vs. describing; or doing vs. thinking; 0r data gathering vs. data analysis; or working with the product vs. reading about the product.
Using polarities to help develop charters
When you charter your tests, see what happens when you use different test polarities to develop your test charters. For each test idea, run it past some of the different polarities. How would your testing change if you focused on individual tests vs. general lab procedures; or coverage vs. oracles; etc… I find that doing this helps me generate far more test ideas than I otherwise would. While they aren't always high priority, the ideas come. That's important for overproduction and abandonment.
Polarities when creating charters
When you charter your tests, see what happens when you include polarities explicitly in your mission.  For example, look at testing vs. touring; or feature vs. feature; etc… After you've done this for a few charters, note how it changes your testing. Does it help you focus? Is it distracting? I find that doing this sometimes helps me better focus when testing. Especially if I'm chartering a shorter charter (20-30 minutes).