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Exploratory Testing vs. Automated Testing: Finding the Right Balance

Written by
Esko Hannula
Table of contents

Did you know that software testing has been around for 40 years? Back in 1984, an American software engineer named Cem Kaner coined the phrase "exploratory testing" to describe the work of the best testers in Silicon Valley. Exploratory testing involves more than following scripts –– it’s about the tester's freedom to adapt and learn on the go. This approach has moved from a niche skill to a big deal in modern testing, especially with quick release cycles, like those in Salesforce DevOps services.

But here's the twist: exploratory testing hits its stride with automated testing. The old way, where you stick to a set plan, doesn't cut it anymore. Exploratory testing lets testers dive into the app, trying things out, learning as they go. It's about getting a real feel for the software, way beyond any preset test plans.

What's the best setup now? Use both methods. Automated testing takes care of the repeat stuff fast, while exploratory testing gets into the new and complex areas. This combo speeds up feedback to devs and pumps up the software’s quality in areas like mobile testing services and robotic testing services.

Stick around. We're diving deep into how these two testing methods work together, exploring their growth, perks, and how they're better together in achieving software testing balance.

Automating Testing: Dream vs. Reality

Thinking about 100% automation in testing? It's tempting, but not quite the full picture. See, total automation misses out on the human insights that exploratory testing offers. The real game? Finding the sweet spot between automated and manual testing in the testing evolution.

Balancing Automation vs Human Insight in Testing

Automated testing rocks when it comes to fast, consistent tasks like regression testing. It's perfect for the repeat jobs where a human touch might actually mess things up. But, it's not great for everything. 

When it comes to human judgment, intuition, and on-the-fly decisions –– that's where manual testing steps up. Especially for new or complex bits of an app that need a more nuanced touch.

Mixing Tech and Touch

Here's the deal in today's software testing world: you've got to mix the adaptability of exploratory testing with the efficiency of automation. It's key for catering to diverse user needs in testing, matching various goals, and making the most of the different skills in your testing team. 

Getting this mix right? It's crucial for top-notch test coverage and making the testing process as smooth as possible.

Exploratory Testing Benefits and Automated Testing Challenges

Merging exploratory and automated testing does more than just improve testing –– it transforms how teams work and communicate. It's a game-changer for fostering a culture where everyone's sharing insights and working together. This approach boosts software quality, speeds up feedback, and makes resource use smarter –– all music to the ears in the agile world of software development.

But beware, getting the balance wrong can sting. Lean too much on one method, and you might miss bugs, face delays, or waste resources. Imbalance can slow down your whole release process and ding the quality of your product. That's why nailing the right mix of exploratory and automated testing is key for smooth, successful software rollouts.

To learn more about how this is applied specifically in Salesforce environments, read about Salesforce Automated Testing.

Team Dynamics in Testing

Picture this: a dream team for software testing where everyone plays their part to perfection. That's what you need for a top-notch balance between exploratory and automated testing. 

Here's who you need on board:

  1. Exploratory Testing Whizzes: These are your deep divers. They've got the experience and intuition to tackle the complicated stuff. They think outside the box, providing insights that only come from hands-on, real-world testing.
  2. Automation Gurus: These pros keep your testing train running on time. They're wizards at writing and maintaining automated tests, making sure all the routine and regression tasks are done quickly and without a hitch.
  3. Collaborative Developers: It's not just testers on this team. Developers jump in too, offering their technical know-how and a deeper understanding of the app. This helps knit the whole testing process together more cohesively.
  4. Quality Assurance Leaders: These folks are the conductors of the testing orchestra. They make sure everything's in tune, aligning both exploratory and automated efforts with the big-picture goals.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

This mix gets developers and testers talking and sharing more. It's all about teamwork and learning from each other. Think of it as a think tank where everyone's ideas make the product better.

By combining exploratory depth with automated efficiency, you're looking at top-notch test coverage. You're catching more issues, big and small, ensuring nothing slips through the cracks.

Automated tests take care of the routine stuff, letting exploratory testers focus on the new or complex. This means quicker feedback loops, so your devs can tweak and improve faster.

In this context, understanding the role of a Salesforce DevOps platform can be crucial in optimizing these processes and enhancing team collaboration.

Final Thoughts

By marrying exploratory and automated testing, you're setting your team up for success. You're not just testing faster –– you're building better. This approach isn't just a strategy, it's a way to drive innovation and quality in your software, making every release count.

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About The Author

SVP, Product Management

Esko Hannula is an experienced software executive with a life-long interest in the connection between software quality and business performance. He’s known for insightful and often provocative ideas. Prior to joining Copado, Esko has collected 30+ years of leadership experience in software, IT, telecom, and services industries.

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