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The changing face of testing

As a Test Consultant, it is an occupational hazard that I can get quite passionate about testing. But even taking account of my natural enthusiasm, I still think there are some exciting things happening in the world of testing right now.

System testing isn’t a new concept, and unfortunately we are reminded all too often of its importance with stories of one company after another having problems resulting from technology failures. A comprehensive testing schedule is essential to try to minimize this sort of risk. (And by comprehensive, I don’t mean squeezed in right at the end with not enough time to be done properly, because other areas of the project have overrun.)

Automated testing is a very popular method right now - delivering repeatable regression testing that can be run overnight again and again, to save on test execution times. It enables the development or implementation team to see quickly the impact of changes made, and allows for tweaking of the system as the project progresses to enable a faster time-to-market.

However, I am also starting to see a greater interest in exploratory testing, which in my experience can deliver a real difference in the number of bugs identified more quickly. Exploratory testing isn’t a mandated process that is repeated exactly the same every time, it involves a test or development professional simply ‘having a go’ on a system and, essentially, seeing if they can break it! In a banking environment they might, for example try to make a PIN change on an ATM, or test a call center operations function, and focus just on that one feature to test its stability and consistency of response.

Exploratory testing is often overlooked by large organizations because it isn’t a dictated step-by-step process, but I think that’s the reason it is so exciting – by having the freedom to just have a go to dynamically create their tests based on the feedback from the AUT (Application under Test) a test professional can potentially find a flaw early on that could cause expensive problems later.