Is Ad Hoc testing reliable?

By :-Simran Puri

What is Ad Hoc Testing?

Performing random testing without any plan is known as Ad Hoc Testing.  It is also referred to as Random Testing or Monkey Testing. This type of testing doesn’t follow any designed pattern or plan for the activity. The testing steps and the scenarios totally depend upon the tester, and defects are found by random checking.

Ad Hoc Testing does have its own benefits:

  • A totally informal approach, it provides an opportunity for discovery, allowing the tester to find missing cases and scenarios that might not be included in the test plan(if a test plan exists).
  • The tester can really immerse him / herself in the role of the end-user, performing tests absent of any boundaries or preconceived ideas.
  • The approach can be implemented easily, without any documents or planning.

That said, while Ad Hoc Testing is certainly useful, a tester shouldn’t rely on it solely. For a project following scrum methodology, for example, a tester focused only on the requirements and who performs Ad Hoc testing for rest of the modules of the project(apart from the requirements) will likely ignore some important areas and miss testing other very important scenarios.
When utilizing an Ad Hoc Testing methodology, a tester may attempt to cover all the scenarios and areas but will likely still end up missing a number of them. There is always a risk that the tester performs the same or similar tests multiple times while other important functionality is broken and ends up not being tested at all. This is because Ad Hoc Testing does not require all the major risk areas to been covered.

Performing Testing on the Basis of Test Plan

Test cases serve as a guide for the testers. The testing steps, areas and scenarios are defined, and the tester is supposed to follow the outlined approach to perform testing. If the test plan is efficient, it covers most of the major functionality and scenarios and there is a  low risk of missing critical bugs.
On the other hand, a test plan can limit the tester’s boundaries. There is less of an opportunity to find bugs that exist outside of the defined scenarios. Or perhaps time constraints limit the tester’s ability to execute the complete test suite.
So, while Ad Hoc Testing is not sufficient on its own, combining the Ad Hoc approach with a solid test plan will strengthen the results. By performing the test per the test plan while at the same time devoting resource to Ad Hoc testing, a test team will gain better coverage and lower the risk of missing critical bugs. Also, the defects found through Ad Hoc testing can be included in future test plans so that those defect prone areas and scenarios can be tested in a later release.

Additionally, in the case where time constraints limit the test team’s ability to execute the complete test suite, the major functionality can still be defined and documented. The tester can then use these guidelines while testing to ensure that these major areas and functionalities have been tested. And after this is done, Ad Hoc testing can continue to be performed on these and other areas.

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