The purpose of testing

This week (25 – 26 September 2016) I attended the Test Masters Academy conference in New York. I participated in the tutorial “Agile Exploratory Testing” presented by Alessandra Moreira. In her presentation, she asked at a certain moment to answer the following questions.

What is Testing?
What is Exploratory Testing?
What is the purpose of Testing?

This was done to set a common understanding within the group what it means and proceed further on with it.
She asked us to form groups. I teamed up with Maaret Pyhäjärvi and Nate Danman

For the question ‘What is testing’, we came up with the following answers.

  • In search for quality related information
  • Emperical evidence. Knowing things for real
  • Questioning the product in order to learn from it, to evaluate it
  • Gathering information to make an informative decision
  • Going thru expected and unexpected situations

For the question ‘What is Exploratory Testing’, we had the following in mind. Exploratory Test is the process of constantly learning, design and execution of tests.

We recognized that Exploratory Test can be used in three situations

  • ET used as a technique.
    Example of a tour thru the product. You have a script you are working on. While executing the script, you bend away from your script to see what is happening over there. You don’t stay there long and you return to your original script.
  • ET used in a time box
    As a team you define a period of time, e.g. an afternoon, where you sit together and do some testing. You identify the test areas you going to test and divide the work. The team then start testing. Observations and results are discussed afterwards.
  • ET used as an approach
    With your test ideas, focused on certain areas you want to test, you start testing. The information you gathered and the observation you made will be used to come up with new test to be executed. You keep on doing this until you think you have seen enough.

For the question ‘What is the purpose of Testing’, we were thinking how to answer this. We looked at the notes of the previous two questions. We came up with the following.

The purpose of Testing is:

To gather empirical information about expected and unexpected situations thru questioning the product.

This sounded quite powerful to us. Reason enough for me to write this blogpost.


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