Beware of the Lotus Eaters: Exploratory Testing

Anne-Marie Charrett draws from the Greek mythology of the lotus eaters to warn testers to be weary of enjoying early success too soon upon finding high impact bugs. Here is an excerpt:

Like many professions, the lure of the “low hanging fruit” in software testing is very appealing. In this case, fruit refers to finding high impact bugs quickly.

Exploratory Testing (ET) combined with Risk based Testing is a useful strategy for finding these bugs.  Of course ET can deliver a whole lot more than that, but the opportunity to demonstrate an immediate impact is often a compelling reason to use Exploratory Testing.

Testers are not the only ones who like this fruit; it is also welcomed by the rest of the team, in particular project managers. Some bugs found early in the testing phase are, in general, welcomed by most team players.

Consequently, exploratory testers often tailor strategies to find and deliver these types of bugs. This means cheap and easy tests are run first. There is nothing wrong with this. It’s a good and effective strategy. There’s nothing like a few serious bugs at the start of testing to lull a manager out of a false sense of security.

It becomes a problem though if it becomes the only model used to perform testing. Testers eat the lotus flower of early success and are seduced and satiated with its bewitching nectar and stop testing. Any inner doubts are squashed with arguments such as “there is no such thing as 100% coverage” or “exhaustive testing is expensive and impractical, so why try?”

Ms. Charrett  is a tester and runs her own company, Testing Times. Her career originates in electric engineering. However, in 1990 she began conformance testing against European standards and has switched careers ever since.

LogiGear
LogiGear Corporation provides global solutions for software testing, and offers public and corporate software testing training programs worldwide through LogiGear University. LogiGear is a leader in the integration of test automation, offshore resources and US project management for fast, cost-effective results. Since 1994, LogiGear has worked with Fortune 500 companies to early-stage start-ups in, creating unique solutions to meet their clients’ needs. With facilities in the US and Viet Nam, LogiGear helps companies double their test coverage and improve software quality while reducing testing time and cutting costs.
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