Exploratory Testing explored using Risk Analysis for Mobile Applications

Exploratory testing is an approach that can be described as simultaneous learning, test design and test execution. It is testing parallel with learning. We all consciously or un-consciously do exploratory testing. We use the concept of “Think Different” every time we do exploratory testing. Creative exploratory tests help to break the monotonous scripted testing and bring out newer test case each time.

This paper brings out the approach of exploratory testing which is an emerging topic and clubbed with risk based analysis brings a powerful approach to testing. Today’s fast growing technology and rapid changes in projects, makes exploratory testing an important approach for every tester. Scripted testing alone often fails to find hidden defects. Exploratory testing, however, can expose these risks because it incorporates exploration and experience into the testing process.


One common misconception about exploratory testing is, it is unstructured, and this paper tries to showcase the concept of doing exploratory testing with risk analysis and gives it a more structured approach.

Also this paper highlights exploratory testing in mobile applications, using risk analysis. Mobile application testing embeds a lot of features, navigation flows, OS, device dependency. Mobile testing always requires an investigative approach apart from the fundamental test approaches. Exploratory testing with risk analysis makes a mobile testing much structured and easier to delve deep into the application and find bugs.


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Outline/structure of the Session


Software development lifecycle faces challenges like rapid changes in requirements, changes in design and frequent new change requests. There has been a constant shift from traditional testing practices to newer ways of testing.

The term exploratory testing was coined by Cem Kaner. It is testing parallel with learning. Author James Bach, described exploratory testing as “scientific thinking in real-time.” It gives us numerous number of combinations and choices. It also broadens the way we think and do testing.

Every testing project is different and each project must be approached differently by individual and organization, Exploratory Testing enhances a product’s test coverage by helping the team better understand the system and find issues when time is of the essence.

Risk-based testing (RBT) is a type of software testing that is used to prioritize the tests of features and functions in software, based on the risk of failure, the function of their importance and likelihood or impact of failure. Risk mitigation/avoidance activities avoid risks or minimise their impact.

Blend of Exploratory Testing along with Risk based Analysis

Risk based exploratory testing gives a proper structure to exploratory testing. Exploratory testing is sometimes confused with "ad hoc" testing. Ad hoc testing normally refers to a process of improvised, impromptu bug searching. By definition, anyone can do ad hoc testing. The term "exploratory testing"--coined by Cem Kaner, in Testing Computer Software-- refers to a sophisticated, thoughtful approach to ad hoc testing. 

Exploratory testing with risk analysis demands skilled and experienced tester, who can explore the application and identity the risks and execute the test accordingly. This way tester can identify the risks and create and execute tests accordingly.

Need for Risk based Exploratory Testing in Mobile applications.             

Mobile systems involve a lot of learning from system and Customers, lot of changes are made based on what the customer wants, the typical errors in mobile systems, device dependencies make mobile testing more complex.

In mobile testing, One step leads to another and new scenarios can be identified in each round of testing, which basically adds to knowledge of the tester. In such cases, Exploratory Testing in Mobile Applications using Risk analysis comes a very powerful way to find defects.

Testing on wide range of mobile devices makes it impossible to test all test cases, Risk Analysis in such cases becomes essential for testing in such cases. Exploratory testing with risk analysis makes mobile tester’s life easier and handy.




Approach to Exploratory Testing in any Application using Risk analysis

  1. Risk Identification and Analysis for the application.
  2. Carry out Exploratory Tests on the identified areas of Risk
  3. Maintain a Test Charter to document for the test scenarios and outputs
  4. Perform Gap analysis to check if any test scenarios have been missed.


Step 1:   Risk Identification and Analysis for the application.


Risk identification and Analysis is the 1st step in his process. Identify the risks yourself or if you are working with a team, brainstorm the application existing issues and assess the risk areas. Review any previous reports. Categorize the risk areas and prioritize the tests.


Step 2: Carry out Exploratory Tests on the identified areas of Risk

   Test with high risks can be prioritized 1st for exploratory tests. This approach makes sure that all high risk areas of the project are covered. Next we can carry out exploratory tests on the identified areas of risk.

     Step 3: Maintain a Test Charter to document for the test scenarios and outputs

Exploratory test without documentation can lead to chaos and redundant work. So it’s a good practice to maintain a test charter to document test scenarios or keep adding new scenarios as per tester’s exploration. This can later be assimilated with other testers work.

Step 4: Perform Gap analysis to check if any test scenarios have been missed.

Last step is to brainstorm and do gap analysis, to identify missed out scenarios. This helps us to achieve a test thoroughness. This also makes sure that test coverage is achieved.

How is Exploratory testing useful in Mobile applications?

Exploratory testing is useful in case of complex projects, where there is very little known about the project. This type of testing can be implemented in Acceptance phases (UAT) where end user can be asked to do a round of exploratory testing.

Mobile Testing has a very wide scope, because of the number of platforms, Device range and network scenarios. Mobile testing requires rapid feedback and is mostly done with agile technology. Mobile screens and navigations keeps changing as per design and OS, so the traditional test scripts become obsolete very soon. In this case, exploratory risk testing comes handy.

The tests can be run based on prioritization and defects can be reported. During exploration testers come across newer flows and hence chances to uncover newer defects.





Pros of exploratory testing

  • Less preparation is needed, important bugs are found quickly, and the approach tends to be more intellectually stimulating to execute than scripted tests.
  • Testers can derive conduct tests based on previous results to guide their future testing on-the-fly. They do not have to complete a current series of scripted tests before focusing in on or moving on to exploring a more target rich environment.


Challenges of exploratory testing

  • Exploratory testing requires highly skilled testers who are able to produce results quickly and consistently
  • Defining Exit criteria for exploratory testing becomes difficult.
  • If not documented properly, exploratory test can lead to clutter and make Test reporting difficult.



Main objective of testing is to achieve quality while working with deadlines. Exploratory testing can be combined with several other testing techniques and contribute to achieving the goal. The best results can be achieved using this technique.

This paper only covers a few ways that adding exploratory testing to your testing regimen can improve your test coverage and help reduce risk. It can take the testing to a newer level .There are many, many other advantages, Pros and Cons not covered here in this paper. So keep exploring!




Learning Outcome

Main objective of testing is to achieve quality while working with deadlines. Exploratory testing can be combined with several other testing techniques and contribute to achieving the goal. The best results can be achieved using this technique.

This paper only covers a few ways that adding exploratory testing to your testing regimen can improve your test coverage and help reduce risk. It can take the testing to a newer level .There are many, many other advantages, Pros and Cons not covered here in this paper. So keep exploring!




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  • Aditya Garg
    By Aditya Garg  ~  2 years ago
    reply Reply

    Do you think you would be able to complete this presentation in 20 minutes. 

    Are you going to give a practical explanation or cover the theory part.

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    References & Appendix


    Author Biography

    Archana Krushnan is currently working as Test Analyst at Nihilent Technologies Pvt Ltd. She has been in the field of Software Testing for 5.5 years and worked on several domains such as Telecom, Ecommerce and Healthcare. Her interests include exploring new things in testing and sharing on her blog. She has previous experiences of working with companies like Reliance Communications Ltd and Fab.com. She has good knowledge in Selenium, Jmeter and Soap UI. She is ISTQB Foundation Level Certified.

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