Adhoc testing is informal software testing used to test application functionality in a less structured manner than expected results and without performing any test case creation. It’s usually performed by developers or testers during the early phases of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), such as requirements gathering, prototyping, verification, etc., when software is not yet stable or mature enough.
Adhoc testing is an informal testing type done to break the system. This testing is generally unplanned and undocumented and applied to early scientific experimental studies. It does not follow any test design techniques and thus does not require any test cases for performing the testing. The test will be executed only once unless a defect is discovered. It is primarily performed if the knowledge of the tester is very high. It is a form of Black Box testing or behavioral testing.
As discussed earlier, ad hoc testing does not follow any Documentation, Planning, or Process. Since this testing aims to find defects through a random approach, without any documentation, defects will not be mapped with any test cases. Hence,, sometimes it is very difficult to reproduce the defect as no steps or requirements are mapped to the test cases. However, the string of ad hoc testing is that important that defects can be found quickly. Adhoc testing is error guessing, a light version of exploratory testing.
What is Adhoc Testing?
The term is ad-hoc is used to mean “for this purpose only” or loosely translated to be “on the fly”.
In software testing, ad hoc testing is a method of executing tests without formal documentation; this test typically requires less time preparation than other quality assurance methods. Normally, these manuals are developed by software testing companies and then executed.
Adhoc testing can be known as the informal or casual approach to software testing, but I have used this word on my site because if you search for adhoc in Google, you will most likely get results related to IT.
Ad hoc testing is also known as “firefighting” and is performed by project managers or system administrators. These tests are designed and executed to resolve specific problems or issues during software product development.
Adhoc testing is also known as “random” testing in some sources, although this can be confusing because it may not be truly random due to the fact that ad hoc test methodologies are still quite structured. This blog post will primarily focus on ad hoc testing as a form of informal software testing.
When to perform Adhoc Testing
When we are talking about Adhoc testing, the next question arises is, When do we need to perform the Adhoc testing? And by whom it needs to be done?
Adhoc testing can be done at any time of the application development cycle, whether at the beginning, middle, or end. It is performed when there is limited time for performing elaborate testing. It is generally performed only after formal testing is done. If time permits, then Adhoc testing can be done on the system.
Adhoc testing will be effective if the tester has detailed knowledge of the system under test. So, the Adhoc testing tester should have much experience and be detail-oriented. The experienced tester can find more defects as they are better at error guessing.
Adhoc Testing And Exploratory Testing
To understand the difference between ad hoc and exploratory testing, we need to know what exploratory testing is first. The term “exploratory” in this context was borrowed from mathematics, meaning that the process of finding something is more important than the outcome.
Exploratory testing is a non-structured method for software testing where the tester has the freedom to do and say whatever they wants throughout the testing session.
In contrast, adhoc testing is similar to exploratory testing but has some differences – mainly that it’s performed for a specific purpose and has little documentation or preparation. Adhoc testing can be included as a subset of exploratory testing, but there are several key differences between these two:
- The software testers perform exploratory testing only to find bugs in the application at that time. In contrast, ad hoc tests can be done by developers, system admins, and testers.
- Exploratory testing is performed without documentation or preparation, while ad hoc testing can be done with some documentation (chat/email conversation) between developers/testers/etc, but not fully prepared beforehand.
Exploratory testing involves a tester who doesn’t have any information about the product and tests it in a non-structured way. The tester can perform any type of test, including positive, negative, boundary value, and error or exception-based tests. In ad hoc testing, the tester may get some idea from other testers/developers about what should be tested before conducting actual test execution.
Ad hoc testing can be performed on a daily build or release candidate to check for new bugs, whereas exploratory testing is performed after the entire product is built. In ad hoc testing, testers perform tests without any help from developers or other technical experts, although in some cases, they may ask them if they need any assistance while performing the tests.
Ad hoc testing can be performed manually or automated, but exploratory testing is typically only performed manually because it’s informal and unstructured. In the case of adhoc testing, a tester may ask developers to skip some usability checks this way, increasing the chance of finding more defects in the early stage of the software development life cycle.
Adhoc testing is performed manually, but exploratory testing can also be automated. This brings the main difference between these two types of testing.
Adhoc Testing in Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)
The phases where adhoc testing is most effective are requirements gathering, prototyping, debugging, and/or verification and validation. For example, testers can look for new bugs in the requirements or specifications before formalizing them into detailed design documents. In the case of prototyping, ad hoc testing can be utilized to verify that current functionality is working as intended or to find defects for newly added features, etc.
Adhoc testing should not be performed on non-functional requirements such as security, portability, performance, usability, etc., because it doesn’t benefit in this case. The reason is that these requirements shouldn’t change during the development process, so if they have bugs/defects, the developers must fix them before moving forward.
The ad hoc testing team should comprise testers, developers, and project managers. This may vary depending on the organization’s policies, but according to my experience, it should be like this. The reason is that ad hoc testing can reveal defects during integration or unit testing, which can help developers identify coding problems in applications early before releasing software products to the quality assurance (QA) team for regression testing.
This way, it helps developers and testers to improve product quality. Ad hoc testing can be performed at the end of each sprint, but some organizations may allow ad-hoc testing during any phase of an SDLC, which is not recommended in my opinion because it can create an unnecessary burden for test teams who are already struggling with their day-to-day tasks.
Ad hoc testing should not be confused with exploratory testing. Exploratory testing can also be performed on newly added functionality, but it’s a more formal software testing method with more detailed planning and documentation.
For example, in exploratory testing, testers create test cases for each type of user role (user type), such as power user, IT manager, etc., whereas in ad hoc testing, testers try to perform some kind of functionality without any documentation and test case creations.
They are both different because exploratory testing is a type of software testing where testers analyze application features and then perform an informal test plan with the goal of discovering as many defects as possible before the product goes to a formal testing phase.
Ad hoc testing is also different from contextual inquiry, which is a very formal type of user testing where testers interview actual users to understand how they use software or which type of features they need in the future releases of applications, as well as what they don’t like and how can it be improved. Contextual inquiry is a very time-consuming process and is usually performed in the later stages of SDLC when most features have been developed.
Types of Adhoc Testing
Even though Ad hoc testing is unstructured, we must follow certain conditions to get the best results.
- Buddy Testing
- Pair Testing
- Monkey Testing
Two members work together to identify defects in the same application module in Buddy testing. One member will mostly be from the development team and another from the testing team. Buddy testing helps the tester make better test cases and also helps the development team make the required design changes at the early stages of development. This testing generally happens after the completion of unit testing.
Buddy Testing is suitable when a tester wants to test some specific aspect of the application, but he/she doesn’t know or understand how it can be tested. As testers usually work directly with developers, they can ask them about the best way to do it.
This is a time to ask for your buddy’s help. He or she will guide you through his/her testing experience and point out some flaws in the application that can be considered bugs.
In the Pair testing, two testers from the testing team are assigned modules, share ideas, and work on the same machine to find the defects. They divide the testing scenarios among themselves and work together. This type of testing aims to cover maximum test scenarios so that the module has complete test coverage. One tester is responsible for executing the testing; another will act as a scribe and take notes of the findings and documentation. The paired testing is a combination of both experienced and inexperienced testers.
Many times, we want to verify that two people are performing the same task on the application and that they are doing it in the correct way. Pair Testing is suitable for this because we can compare two testers’ test results to see if both testers reached the same conclusion about certain application features.
Pair testing is also preferred when you want to have bigger coverage of code or understand how new functionality can impact existing features. Additionally, pair testing can be very effective in reducing defects because if two people reach different conclusions about certain aspects, functionality is unclear. There must be some defect.
Monkey testing is a type of Adhoc testing, where the tester tests the application or system by giving random inputs and checking the application behavior. The main goal of this type of testing is to break the system. Monkey testing helps us to find undiscovered bugs that might not have been caught earlier.
We have already discussed “monkey testing” when discussing the white box software testing technique where a random tester performs a random test. But it can also be performed during ad hoc testing, where the programmer will try to perform every feature implemented in the released product. This method is preferred to check how easily or difficult application users use new features.
Monkey Testing can also be done by testers who try to perform operations that they are not familiar with. For example, testers can intentionally use applications incorrectly or try to find bugs that can be dangerous for users because the application may become unstable, so it’s considered an unprofessional approach to software testing.
Importance of Adhoc testing
Though Adhoc testing is an unstructured and unplanned form of testing, there are still many benefits. A few of the importance of the Adhoc testing are listed below.
- It can be performed for a project with insufficient or limited software specifications or requirements.
- It is beneficial when there is less time and depth testing of the module is required. This helps in delivering the task with high quality and on time.
- Check for the completeness of testing.
- Defect catching during Adhoc testing is added to planned test cases.
- Save much time as no formality is maintained.
- As it is an unstructured form of testing, the tester can emphasize testing the module’s features rather than focusing on the documentation part.
- This type of testing is not limited to the testers only but is also done by the development team and thus helps improve the code quality.
- It allows testers to implement new ways of testing the application and thus helps find undiscovered errors or defects.
- It requires a lesser level of preparation time.
- It can produce a quick result.
Advantages of Adhoc Testing
- Ad hoc testing is a good way to verify that new functionality works properly.
- Since ad hoc testing is an unstructured process, testers can get deep knowledge about the application by analyzing different features from different perspectives, which will also help in the context of exploratory testing.
- As Ad hoc tests are performed by more than one person, different testers can find different types of bugs, revealing the larger scope of potential risks.
- Adhoc testing is an effective way to test certain features and possible ways they work. For example, if we want to check how the application works with the new version of Java, then we should ask a specific person from the development team who is responsible for Java version compatibility.
- Ad hoc testing is useful to check how new functionality works with older versions of applications and external software, services, or devices.
Disadvantages of Adhoc Testing
- It’s very difficult to control ad hoc tests, so it may lead to chaos and disadvantages.
- Adhoc testing can be annoying and frustrating when testers devise an unstructured approach or brainstorm independently when using the application for the first time.
- Since ad hoc tests are performed by different people, there is a great possibility that someone will miss something during test preparation, which may lead to erroneous, false positive results or the hiding of some important test scenarios.
- It’s very difficult to reproduce ad hoc tests; therefore, it may cause poor documentation, low test coverage, and overlooked defects, which can later be considered major issues for the product.
While we were discussing different types of testing, there was one type called “Adhoc testing,” where randomly selected people perform random tests using their own creativity and imagination to come up with different test scenarios, which can be very effective because it’s more like real life scenario as testers use application for the first time.
Ad hoc testing may have some disadvantages too that could cause low test coverage, bad documentation, or even forgotten important test cases, but we can eliminate this by making test preparation as thorough as possible and asking specific people from the development team who are responsible for the functionality that we are trying to test.
During ad hoc testing, it’s very important to mention that testers should not try to use applications incorrectly or functionality they are unfamiliar with; otherwise, it may lead to some chaos because test preparation and planning are important parts of testing. Therefore, we should be prepared for everything, even if we can’t predict what exactly will happen during the test run.
After all, it’s up to you to decide which type of testing you would like to use, but remember that our main goal is to identify as many problems as possible and eliminate them before the product is released to the market.
I hope this post was helpful and you learned something new today :). If so, please let me know in the comments below because it motivates me to write more awesome technical articles for you! Also, if you find any mistakes or want to suggest something, please comment! I would appreciate it!