Living Dangerously: Testing Without Requirements

Testing Without Requirements

Software testing requires testers to ensure an application’s quality by using their creativity, experience, and intuition to full potential. The basic purpose of this process is to check for the flaws in the application so that developers can work to fix them. Testing is done to ensure that the software meets the business and technical requirements for successful testing. But what if the requirements are not laid out? In this article, we will discuss in detail the challenges, teams face in testing without requirements and how they should perform testing in the absence of requirements. 

Challenges of Testing Without Requirements

  • It is extremely difficult to create a test plan, test design, and test cases without requirements and hence difficult to determine the scope of testing. 
  • Without documentation of old release information, there is a considerable understanding gap of how the existing functionality of previous releases works with the new one.
  • In this case, testers are unaware of the device support, OS specification, or browser capability
  • Requirements tell us what to expect from a completed system. Without them, we are not sure.
  • In this case, managers and developers are the only sources of information. This increases the chances of misunderstandings and with frequent changes, the system can become unstable and difficult to test.
  • If the requirements are not formally written, they can be misunderstood by developers and/or testers, leading to a greater chance of defect reopening.

Scenarios Where Requirements Documentation Are Not Referencable

  • When the development is done directly with the customer and the requirements are exchanged verbally or via emails.
  • In case of platform upgrade because the system already exists for reference.
  • When the document is outdated and frequent changes make upkeeping tedious. This makes requirements increasingly irrelevant.
  • When strict deadlines leave no or very little time for writing requirements.
  • When testers join the project late and there is no time for planning and estimation.

How to Test Without Requirements?


The importance of planning at an early stage is often underestimated. Planning determines results that are expected from the team and the types of testing that will be performed. Make sure that the development and testing teams use the same test management tools and documents for coding and testing respectively. The purpose of planning is to have clear expectations and avoid surprises for a smooth process. Planning, if done right, can eliminate risks of testing without requirements.


In the absence of requirements, gather all the scattered documents such as emails and recordings, connect the dots, and prepare your high-level requirement document. Due to limited time, this should be done quickly. Testers need to observe, understand, and make note of every useful information in the absence of requirements.

User Scenarios and Checklist

User scenarios are written in natural language to provide a clearer picture of customer expectations and how they can be met. Without requirements, preparing user scenarios is very crucial. Functional tasks can also be listed in the form of a checklist, for example, UI checklists, functional features, defects, etc. Checklists are easy to maintain and the expected information can be easily extracted from them. They can be easily improved by adding or removing checkpoints.

Ask Developers

Developers are in the best position to answer requirement queries since they have done the coding. However, getting help from them is tricky due to their time constraints. Testers need to have good bonding with developers so that they can collaborate when required.

Risk Analysis

Without requirements, it’s even more imperative to identify risk areas, by using test management tools, where you are most likely to find issues. Risk analysis helps you to make the right and timely decisions to ensure quality. Risk areas need to be approved by customer support, developers, and application architects to make sure that you are heading in the right direction.

Ad-Hoc Testing

Ad-hoc testing is the least formal type of testing which is done without any documentation or planning. To successfully uncover defects through ad-hoc testing, testers are required to have an in-depth understanding of the application and its functional flows. Types of ad-hoc testing include monkey testing, pair testing, and buddy testing.

Exploratory Testing

As the name suggests, the purpose of exploratory testing is to explore the software and figure out what it does and what it does not. It is done with minimum planning and maximum execution. In exploratory testing, the design and execution activities run in parallel. It can be an extremely useful practice if you are testing without requirements.


If you are proceeding to work on a project without any requirement document, you need to have a proper plan in place to complete the tasks. Communication with clients and developers is the key to understand their expectations and obtain constant feedback during the process. You can make your own requirements document when you know what and how to test. However, it is always recommended to have requirement documents in place.