Scripted vs Exploratory testing from a managerial perspective Martin Jansson

From a managerial perspective without knowing too much about testing, your sole experience comes from the scripted test environment…

What does Scripted Testing include?

  • Control over what is to be tested, in the sense that you have a clear coverage of test cases on certain areas. Reports where you can see exactly how many test cases are left to do before you are finished.
  • Hierarchy among testers, with different roles playing their part in the system. An excellent way to have career moves. Test leads who do the thinking and the others to execute.
  • Scalability in personel by easily bringing in new people who can execute the test scripts that the test leads have written. Getting new resources in the middle of a project is easy since you can take almost anyone.
  • Test Management Software. If you want your testers to have the best tools, there are tools that cost several millions. They will generate excellent reports, they can automate so that the boring repeatable tests do not have to be rerun manually.
  • Education. There are lots of certification to be had and many firms who can teach you the essentials.

What does Exploratory Testing (ET) include?

  • Flatness in organisation. The testers make tests as they go along. They do not need the traditional test leads. It is uncertain what kind of career exits you have with this kind of focus.
  • Chaos. You have no idea on how you are going to test. You have not planned everything out in detail before you start testing. You cannot report exactly how long time you need and as much time as possible is not good enough.
  • No scaleability. You only want testers. Not anyone can be a testers. It is hard to just get anyone to help out since you cannot use just anyone from the organisation, they must know the basic skills to help out.
  • No real education. You cannot get certified. None of the major consultants teach this. There are courses, but they are new and few teach it.
  • No real Test Management Software. The major software vendors have no tools for this. The software is seldome made by commercial vendors.

What do your managers think about this? What sales pitch do ET have for management? I’ve twisted what ET can include to bring out the worst of it, but I think that an inexperience test manager with his roots in the scripted test environment has at least part of this view. Cem Kaner has a good presentation called A Tutorial in Exploratory Testing. That presentation do sell ET really well. If you are going to try to get your organisation to start using ET and intend to do some propaganda for your test manager Kaners presentation is a good start.

Joe Strazzere July 30th, 2009

As a Manager, I think you weaken your arguments when you equate Education with Certification.

Martin Jansson July 30th, 2009


Don’t you think there are test managers who equate education with certification? I think there is. I think there are many test managers who are first hand a manager, but know very little about testing. The foundation of their knowledge comes from older theories and methologies that are most often teached in certification classes.

I disagree with that it is a weak argumen to think that most managers who are grown from the scripted test environment think that while managers who are grown from the exploratory test environment do not think it. I’d say that James Bach, Cem Kaner, Michael Bolton and basically most followers of the context-driven school and practitioners of ET think that certification such as ISTQB do not equate with education.

Joe Strazzere July 31st, 2009

I guess if you ask enough of them you’ll find managers that don’t know the difference between their a$$ and their elbow, too.

That you for at least acknowledging that not all managers are that ignorant.

It still seems weak to me to use them interchangeably within bullet points.

Ashley October 29th, 2009

I believe Exploratory Testing is always done with the intent of understanding the functionality of the application . For a new Test Engineer joining the team , this way of doing Testing might be a help . Thank You.

[…] on blog called thoughts from the test eye. In a satirical post from this past summer called “Scripted vs Exploratory Testing from a Managerial Perspective“, Martin proposes that “From a managerial perspective without knowing too much about […]