Use Exploratory Testing
As per my personal experience in multiple mid to large projects, exploratory testing paid me off multiple times by helping me becoming effective & valuable to the team in short period of time, provided done with focused concentration & discipline in a scientific manner.
I was initially surprised to see, by taking a simple QA mindset of "Don't assume anything" and questioning everything(at least first to oneself to understand things) about the application under test, one can find a lot of critical gaps/defects in very short period of time even in the requirement document itself.
Sometimes people with years of domain knowledge miss things where someone with QA(Why?) mindset discovers things fundamentally flawed in a system by simply bringing a fresh perspective and a questioning mindset.
Conceptually 'Exploratory testing' is very simple and can be defined
in few words like just Explore, design & test simultaneously but as a
tester evolves in terms of QA experience and becomes more observant of
identifying specific details & symptoms to find deeper issues, it
becomes more & more effective.
- I consider the following as the typical process of exploratory testing:
Be curious:Ask yourself a question about the product functionality based on common sense/ experience and find out the answer by designing an test and executing it.Always be ready to go beyond the 'obvious' and don't just assume a requirement as mentioned in the document but try to take the perspective of the end user and see why(or why not) something makes sense.
Think on paper: Never underestimate the power of thinking on paper.Write your ideas,make notes ,draw some pictures ,visualize the data flow in the system and make diagrams/mind maps whatever works for you to see clearly the application.Most of the time I keep an simple diary/ pen to keep my notes handy and draw pictures to visualize things.It helps a lot.
Logical Progression: Each question/ answer should lead you to the next logical question.
Timebox Sessions :Do time box(I do 40 mins ) intense sessions and make simple notes of your observations during this process.My primary tool at this stage is notepad.
Be Brave: Don't assume anything and be confident in raising questions about something which does not make sense even though it "seems" fundamental to others.