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Exploratory Testing of UAT – SD Times

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A survey of DevOps Teams found that most enterprises have only the bandwidth to do some manual testing, and lack the skilled resources needed for full test automation. Most companies don’t even have a formal cycle of user acceptance testing (UAT). Instead, they use informal manual testing conducted by business users. This article discusses challenges and solutions related to UAT. But they are also applicable to companies who conduct informal manual tests.

Manual testing has several pain points. 

  • Tests require that users be trained in the new functionality.
  • Limited availability of business users
  • Defect reporting
  • No test automation is created

Let’s dig in a little to each of these and then take a look at how a new type of testing tool and Gen AI can address these issues.

Training – Users may understand their current processes, but must be trained on how the new process will work before they test them. The business analysts who design the updates often don’t have the resources needed to create the documentation and fully educate the testers before they begin.

Limited Availability – The business doesn’t have time for all users to test every new feature in a release. It is important to assign individuals to different features with enough clarity as to what they should test. A proper UAT will require a test plan that is specific to each manual tester. This ensures that all new features will be covered by users who are likely to use them in their daily work.

Reporting Defects –Developers must know what steps were taken, and what values are entered at each step in order to duplicate the bug and determine whether it is a real bug. Users tend to forget the steps taken and the values entered by users, especially when multiple screens and steps are involved. Developers also expect that bugs will be reported within the applications they use to track bugs. Business users generally don’t know these tools. So, the team conducting UAT will create a shared Excel spreadsheet for users who want to log defects. Or they may set up a slack channel or email alias to report issues. This is also problematic, as it is easy for users not to provide the information that developers need to duplicate and fix the issue.

No automated tests – When UAT is complete the product is tested, but there are no automation scripts as a result. The next round of testing is also going to be manual.

Exploratory Testing

What if you were able to do manual testing as you do today, address the issues raised above, and create automated tests with little or no extra effort that could be added into your regression suites. 

Exploratory Testing is a method based on Explore the world with usAll aspects of the new feature. Most development teams are only concerned with testing the “Happy Path”If you can demonstrate that it works for a simple case, then it’s done. If you can demonstrate that it works for a simple case, then it’s done, right?

Subject matter experts are able to explore every possible path a user can take to complete the task. They use boundary values, such as dates in the past to simulate a future date. Unfortunately, the SMEs typically can’t write scripts even if they did have the time.

Many modern testing tools offer a recording feature that records a clickstream. These are used to replace scripting and are most often used by people who are intentionally writing a test. The test author is following a step-by-step process, so instead of writing Selenium they record the values and clicks. This is a good option if you already know what you want to create. Unfortunately, the people who use these tools are not SMEs.

Many recording groups in the music industry tape their jam sessions. Often a musician plays a guitar lick and the other band members say “Man that was great! Play it again.” Unfortunately the musician cannot remember what they just played. The recording engineer then plays back the tape. Many of the most iconic guitar riffs of classic rock were recorded by accident during rehearsals and then included in the final versions of songs.

This is how a new breed exploratory testing tool works. They are optimized to capture exploratory tests like a tape recording studio. When a defect is found the tester can “rewind” the tape to the beginning of the sequence and highlight the steps that led to the defect. The highlighted steps are converted into screenshots and videos that can be uploaded to the bug tracking software via an integration. The tester doesn’t even have to know how to use the bug tracking tool or have an account. They can annotate screens by simply drawing on them using their mouse, and add notes so that it is clear what was expected. 

After this defect report is logged in, the exploratory tool can generate a test that will verify the fix once it has been made. This test can be given to the developer for verification of the fix and to the QA team to include in the regression suites. 

Gen AI

Generative AI also can help. AI tools are able to automatically generate documentation for the new feature. AI tools are able to create a testing script that will test the happy path for a new feature, and can also create a video showing the new feature step-by-step. These materials are not production-level, but they’re 90% of the way to there and are generally better than what business users currently get. 



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