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Leadership in Testing – Test Lead Responsibilities and How to Manage Test Team Effect

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by , 05-17-2016 at 04:14 AM (154 Views)
The importance of testers and testing teams has been established time and again. An application or product success is largely attributed to efficient and effective testing techniques which forms the basis for valid bug exposure. Goes without saying that great bugs are found based on the testers’ skills and knowledge, a keen eye and the dedication of the test teams.A test team can comprise of individuals having varying skill levels, experience levels, expertise levels, different attitudes and different expectations/interests levels. All these different resources’ attributes need to be tapped rightly, also keeping in mind to fill in any skill gap if needed, in order to maximize quality. They need to work cohesively together, follow the test processes and deliver the committed piece of work within schedule. This obviously necessitates the need for test management most often performed by an individual with the role of being a test lead. As testers, the work that we’re finally boiled down to do is a direct result of leadership decisions. These decisions are an outcome of trying to implement effective QA processes in addition to good test team management.

The article itself is divided in two parts tutorial:
1. The first part would help bringing out the commonly performed duties by a test lead and what are the factors to consider while managing a test team.
2. The second tutorial would highlight some key skills needed to be a good leader and some ways on how to keep a test team happy.

Test lead/leadership skills and responsibilities

By definition, the basic responsibility of the test lead is to efficiently lead a team of testers to meet the product goals and hence the organization goals that are derived, are achieved. Off course, however straightforward the definition of the role is, it inherently translates into a whole series of responsibilities for the individual. Let’s take a look at the commonly carved out responsibilities for a test leader.

A test lead is most commonly responsible for the following activities:

#1 . He must be able to identify how his test teams aligns within an organization and how his team would achieve the roadmap identified for the project and hence organization.
#2 . He has to identify the scope of the testing required for a particular release based on the requirements document.
#3 . Put out the test plan after discussions with the test team and have it reviewed and approved by the management/ development team.
#4 . Identifying the required metrics and work to have them in place. These metrics could be an inherent goal for the test team as well as what is being testing.
#5 . Identifying the needed testing effort by calculating the sizing needed for the given release and plan the effort needed for the same.
#6 . Figure out what skills are needed and balance the test resources accordingly with those needs based on their own interests as well. Also identify if there are skill gaps and plan training and education sessions for the identified test resources.
#7 . Identify the tools for test reporting, test management, test automation, etc. and educate the team as required to be able to use those tools. Again, plan knowledge transfer sessions in case required for team members for the tools they would use.
#8 . Retaining skilled resources by instilling leadership in them and provide guidance to junior resources as and where needed which would help them to grow. Often in testing teams, although the leadership and management go pretty much together, they definitely do not mean the same thing. A test leader may possess all the leadership skills on paper, but that doesn’t mean that he can manage a team just as well. We have so many different policies set in place for test processes itself, however the art of management of test teams is often a grey area in terms of defining a hard and fast rule for management. Any thoughts on why that might be and how is any test team any different from other teams? I think that it’s extremely important to realize that with a testing team using a management approach which is theoretically perfect and proven, may not always work well.
#9 . Create a fun and conducive environment for all resources to make sure they have maximum throughput.
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