Waxing and Waning during Exploratory Testing

I had this great plan for today where I would observe how I work throughout a day of exploratory testing.  Unfortunately, the software is not quite ready for testing, so my plan has been slightly scuppered. Still I suppose this situation is often typical of any testing  scenario, so I will still include it into my final analysis.
The idea behind this ‘observation’ is I want to have an understanding of how my enthusiasm, concentration change throughout a day of testing.

The reason I want to do this is because I’ve notice that often at the end of testing I tend to be less enthusiastic than say at the start.  That’s understandable and probably most testers have noticed this wane themselves, especially if the testing goes on for a long time.

I attribute many reasons to this, for example, sometimes I leave the boring and tedious tests to the end, or perhaps I feel the majority of ‘interesting’ bugs appear to have been found. It might even be that once the excitement of testing something new has left, I’m left with my own discipline and sheer determination to get through the rest of testing.

So, I thought it might be interesting to track my enthusiasm and concentration in exploratory testing. I get to chose what I test and when, so perhaps with me in control of my testing destiny it would be interesting to see how my enthusiasm wanes and waxes. By observing how it changes, I might be able to put into affect some different techniques to use the peak  points of enthusiasm and concentration for testing the software and perhaps the times when I’m er a bit less enthusiastic to do documentation etc.

The idea is that by observing my testing flow I can plan better how to use my day.

I wonder if this is something that all testers would find helpful?  I imagine that most testers would differ in their daily ebb and flow. If you observed your concentration levels what would you see?

I will keep you posted on how this little exercise goes.

5 replies on “Waxing and Waning during Exploratory Testing”

Sounds like an interesting exercise, will be interesting to hear how it goes!
I have a couple of weeks of long days coming up (end of project push – at least, we all heartily hope it’s the end of the current project, will be glad to see the back of it), so it’ll be educational to watch my concentration levels wax and wane during that time.

Hi Anna,
yeah, I’ve been on projects like that too. On top of this observation, I’m going to look at some ways to increase my concentration times and try and manage myself a bit throughout the day. It’s easy for the unbridled enthusiasm to burn out.

How would measure your interest or lack of interest throughout the test cycle?Surely to benchmark the lows of testing you experience you would need to record the high levels?
Interesting concept though….

Hi Thomas,
I know, all very subjective. Its why I’m using the word observation as opposed to measurement…

What I’m doing is every hour is noting my enthusiasm and concentration levels. For example, have I been ‘In the zone’ or have I been making lots of silly mistakes. The latter suggesting lower concentration etc. Enthusiasm is a bit harder to gauge.

I think I’ve the opposite problem. On any particular day if I’ve got tasks that require me to sit down and concentrate then I’m a slow starter. Once I get absorbed I don’t stop.
To begin with I’ll skate around the edges, even look for things to distract me! Once I’ve forced myself to get into the problem I won’t stop for lunch, and will keep going on and on. I’m much more likely to be “in the zone” several hours in rather than at the start.

I work mainly from home, so the arrival of my wife from her work always stops me getting daft, but when I was young, single and working in an office, if I didn’t have anything in particular planned for the evening I’d just keep going, sometimes past midnight, and right through the night a couple of times.

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