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thomasdfg

Leadership in Testing - Part 2

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by , 05-17-2016 at 04:16 AM (223 Views)
3 Important things to consider in order to manage test teams effectively:

#1 . Understand the testers:
A tester’s job description is to find defects or bugs in software to improve its quality. In a team there could be testers who absolutely enjoy breaking the code by bringing in innovative and creative styles of testing. Needless to say, this requires a person to have skill, creativity and the kind of mind-set of looking at software quite differently from the rest. With a significant amount of time spent in your job in your daily life and growing experience, test resources almost cannot breakout of this “test” mind-set and it becomes a part of who they are, personally and professionally. They look for defects in almost everything ranging from the product to processes, test leads, managers etc. Taking time to understand this mind-set of the test team is the first and foremost step in being able to device a reasonable test management approach for a test lead.

#2 . Testers’ work environment:
The test team most often finds themselves dealing with high levels of pressure because of strict deadlines against the voluminous amount of testing they need to achieve with the given amount of test resources. Sometimes there could be a delay in the delivering the code to the test team or delay in acquiring the required environment or delay in fixing / verifying defects due to innumerable factors. All this, with no extension in schedules. In addition to this there could be a large amount of test effort needed, whereby insufficient or incomplete testing may directly raise questions on the quality of the product. Even though test teams may flag certain risks they identify pro-actively, many a time this may not be looked at very positively by the management either because they may not completely understand the nitty-gritty involved or they may look at it as lack of skill level in test teams. Doubtlessly the test teams undergo high levels of frustration along with pressure to deliver on time. Gauging the environment the test team is frequently exposed to working in could be an invaluable input for a test lead/ manager for effective management.

#3 . Test team’s role:
This is more so an aftermath of the two points stated above. After a lot of years in the testing domain, I have come to realize that no amount of testing is “complete” testing and uncovering “all” defects is a fictional phenomenon. So many times regardless of the large test effort, defects are found in the customer or production environment and termed as an “escape” from the test teams. The test team often takes the hit for such escapes and is asked to quantitatively describe their testing coverage to decipher if this field issue could have been caught during the test cycle. Sometimes this causes a big letdown to testers regarding how their roles are portrayed to others in terms of their skills and hence the vision of that to themselves in the broader picture. Understanding all these realities within test teams would help in level-setting the kind of management approach to follow, which means there would be a good chance of stepping away from standard and theoretical management techniques.

Manage the test teams effectively by:
#1 . Initiate the test planning activities for test case design and encourage the team to hold review meetings, ensure the review comments are incorporated.
#2 . During the testing cycle monitor the test progress by constantly assessing the work assignment to each of the resources and re-balance or re-allocate them as required.
#3 . Check if there might be any delays in achieving the schedule and hold discussions with testers to figure out the issues they may be facing and strive to resolve them.
#4 . Hold meetings within the test team to make sure everyone is aware of what the fellow team members are doing.
#5 . Present the timely status to the stakeholders and management and instill confidence about the work being done.
#6 . Prepare any risk mitigation plans in case there are any delays are foreseen.
#7 . Bridge any gaps and differences between the testing team and the management and form a clean two way interface channel.
Although leadership can be mean a whole arena of things like power, knowledge, the ability to be proactive, intuitive, the power to influence decisions, it’s often seen that many a time even though certain test leaders possess almost all these qualities inherently, they’re still probably way off the target at managing their test teams effectively because of the manner in which they attempt to bring out these qualities.
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