How to perform exploratory testing in a remote work era

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In software testing, exploratory testing stands out as an immersive approach where testers delve into applications, evaluating performance through various actions. As quality assurance professionals, the goal is to adopt a user's perspective, navigating the application just as an actual user would. This hands-on methodology is instrumental in uncovering and reporting bugs that could compromise the application's functionality, playing a vital role in enhancing user experience. However, in today's remote work era, traditional testing approaches face new challenges. In the not-so-distant past, many jobs came with a prerequisite: physical presence at the office. But thanks to the rise of remote work, some no longer require a desk, a commute, or the occasional office small talk. Software testing is one of those. No longer bound by geographical constraints, teams are now distributed across the globe, bringing diverse talents and perspectives to the testing table.


Xray Exploratory App for exploratory testing

Remote work environment and software testing

The past years have been characterized by the massive rise of remote work, showing no signs of slowing down. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the prevalence of remote work saw a significant surge between 2019 and 2021. The percentage of individuals working from home tripled, rising from 5.7% (approximately 9 million people) to nearly 18% (about 27.6 million people). Although certain organizations have opted for a return to the traditional office setting, a substantial number have embraced a more flexible approach, implementing either a hybrid model or a full-time work-from-home arrangement for the foreseeable future.

Maintaining organizational standards in a remote work setting requires professionalism, adherence to structured schedules, transparency, and a strong work ethic. The virtual environment demands a commitment to upholding the established norms, ensuring that remote work remains synonymous with high standards and reliability.


In remote collaboration, trust is the linchpin, with the absence of it spelling potential failure regardless of an organization's inherent talent. Patience is equally paramount in the evolving landscape of remote work, recognizing that colleagues may be navigating unfamiliar tools and trends. Allowing sufficient time and space for task completion becomes a cornerstone of organizational success in this remote paradigm. Embracing reliable collaboration and communication tools further defines the efficacy of an organization's workflow, demanding user-friendly solutions with a proven track record. 


To embrace remote work environments successfully, choose the appropriate tools for your exploratory testing requirements. Depending on your budget, objectives, and more, you might require various tool types, including video conferencing, screen sharing, recording, annotation, feedback, documentation, and analysis. It's crucial to assess the compatibility, security, and reliability of the tools you opt for and consider the learning curve for yourself.


Challenges of exploratory testing in a remote setting


Navigating the landscape of exploratory testing remotely brings challenges that testers need to tackle head-on. Let's explore strategies to conquer them:

1. Troubles talking when you're far away

Effective communication is the glue that holds everything together in exploratory testing. However, when your team spans different locations, time zones, and cultures, the language of communication can get lost.

In the traditional office setup, resolving queries or addressing contradictions is as simple as strolling over to a colleague's desk for a quick chat. However, the dynamics change considerably when working remotely. The ease of casual conversations fades away, mainly when dealing with crucial matters of interpretation where text often falls short in conveying tone and urgency.

To enhance communication in exploratory testing, it's vital to establish an environment where team members feel empowered to share their findings, ask questions, seek feedback, and learn collaboratively. This lays the groundwork for effective problem-solving and knowledge exchange.


  • Establish Dedicated Group Channels

Set up dedicated channels or forums where team members can discuss bugs they encounter during exploratory testing. These channels provide a centralized platform for sharing insights, raising concerns, and collectively addressing issues in real-time;


  • Write Effective Bug Reports

There are a lot of practices you can implement to identify and report bugs: Include visual annotations like screenshots or videos to aid understanding, especially in multilingual teams; categorize notes for quick scanning; document steps to reproduce issues accurately; offer potential fixes to aid developers. Additionally, capture and upload network traffic for context and focus on relevant UI or browser information to ensure clarity. Choose recording approaches that suit your needs best, aiming for concise communication throughout the process.


  • Promote Pair Testing

Encourage pair testing, a practice where two testers work together on the same testing task. Pair testing not only fosters collaboration but also enhances communication by facilitating immediate discussion and validation of findings. This collaboration also aids in analyzing bug root causes and testing bug fixes efficiently while allowing developers to enhance their test design skills through this collaborative approach. 


2. Teamwork challenges

Trust, visibility, and alignment can crop up when team members are scattered across the digital landscape. To foster collaboration, testers must build trust through respect and transparency. Everyone in the team should leverage their diverse skills, perspectives, and experiences, to achieve better quality. Additionally, everyone should have a common goal, vision, and strategy for their exploratory testing activities.


  • Dashboards and reports

They show important information in easy-to-understand ways. They help you see trends and track how things are going with your projects or goals. This helps teams make better decisions and work together more effectively. Plus, they keep everyone on the same page by showing progress and highlighting areas that need attention. 

  • Organize exploratory testing sessions as a team

This involves setting clear objectives, inviting diverse participants, scheduling a convenient time and place, preparing test scenarios, providing necessary resources, fostering collaboration, setting time limits, capturing and prioritizing bugs, and reviewing and reflecting on the process afterward. By leveraging the collective knowledge and expertise of team members, bug bashes help uncover issues, improve product quality, and enhance collaboration effectively.


  • Create a library of test charters

Test charters play a crucial role in exploratory testing by keeping you focused and motivated during sessions. Starting from the initial discussion of requirements, writing charters is an ongoing process that evolves with each session. Having a charter library is beneficial to maintain focus and achieve thorough test coverage. If you find yourself straying from the charter, it's a sign to update your library.



3. Managing the testing efforts


The QA team is responsible for determining when a product or feature is sufficiently free of bugs for release. However, reaching a unanimous decision becomes more challenging when testers are scattered across different locations. Testers may find their opinions diverging more frequently when working on individual machines without the oversight inherent in a physical office space. This increases the likelihood of disagreements among the team regarding the readiness of the software.

Many teams already operate with a set of guidelines or prerequisites that outline the criteria for product release. In remote testing, it becomes imperative to adhere rigorously to these guidelines. To streamline the process further, QA managers should consider refining these instructions. The goal is to empower testers with comprehensive answers to most questions, minimizing the need for constant back-and-forth communication. A well-defined set of guidelines ensures consistency and serves as a reliable compass for the QA team navigating the complexities of remote testing.

Therefore, testers must wield tools like calendars and checklists to facilitate coordination. Managing resources and dependencies becomes an art form, ensuring access and availability are secured. Proactive communication, swift escalation, and flexible adaptation become the toolkit for anticipating and resolving potential issues.


Leverage Xray Exploratory App in a remote setting


The Xray Exploratory App was created to simplify the exploratory testing process, allowing teams to collaborate effectively regardless of location and easily identify hidden defects during testing sessions. It aids remote testers in effectively organizing and monitoring their exploratory testing endeavors.

Xray Exploratory App WorkspacesThese tests are formally recorded and readily available to all team members. Testers have the capability to invite other team stakeholders, including support, developers, and managers, to engage in exploratory testing by utilizing session templates stored within the team workspace. 

Xray Exploratory App Test Sessions

With all sessions consolidated in a single location, colleagues can collaborate asynchronously, simply accessing a session initiated by a peer and contributing their insights seamlessly.


Xray Exploratory App Assync Collab

With Xray Exploratory App, you can set up a parameter or “test charter”, which is your session's goal, and then you can go about your session. While you explore your system, you can use the app to record evidence and record videos, take screenshots, take notes, and mark defects

Xray Exploratory App Charter

Finally, you can export your session into a PDF, or if you’re using Xray, the evidence will be attached to your Test Case. This last piece of exporting and sharing your results is crucial since you want to share your insights with the team to make proactive fixes and changes as necessary. If you work remotely, it’s even more beneficial so you can diminish the above-mentioned remote work-related challenges.


Xray Exploratory App for exploratory testing

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