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Thread: Lead Tester

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    Lead Tester

    How much yrs. of experience is required to qualify for a lead tester.What all should he know.

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    Re: Lead Tester

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SQA:
    How much yrs. of experience is required to qualify for a lead tester.What all should he know.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I think it varies based on organization, of course, and what they feel a "lead tester" should have in terms of experience and what their duties will be. It is sometimes hard to measure that experience in years although many places I have been required someone to have at least four years in testing various types of applications in order to be considered for a "lead" or "senior" tester position. At the very least the lead tester in most organizations must be familiar with the environment that is being tested. For example, a tester who only knows and understands Microsoft Windows-based environments will probably not be an effective lead tester in a UNIX-only environment. In general, to my way of thinking and what I tend to look for:

    A lead tester should certainly understand that there are distinctions between test types and test techniques. This individual should also understand what goes on during different phases of testing based on those distinctions. For example, they should understand the distinction between system testing and integration testing. They should understand that functional testing is basically behavioral testing. A lead tester should realize that with performance simulation techniques, there are differences between load and stress testing. A lead tester should also have a "toolbox" of practices they can use to more effectively implement testing strategies such as, for example, equivalence partitioning, orthogonal arrays, decision logic tables, test clustering, etc. Also, a lead tester should be capable of understanding the difference between combination testing and permutation testing.

    A lead tester should be capable of deriving useful and relevant test cases from various types of specifications, such as requirements documents, design specifications, use cases, and high-level test plans. In that same vein, a lead tester should also be capable of writing a test plan as well - not just using one as the basis for test cases.

    A lead tester should be conversant in various ways of performing test estimation in terms of how much testing should be done (such as via activities like test case estimation) and how long certain testing activities (like regression testing) will take so as to determine what is feasible in relation to various time constraints.

    A lead tester should be capable of generating good metrics-based reports that are derived from test plans (high level), test cases (low level), and from test results, either manual or automated. A lead tester, in this same manner, should be capable of reporting on defects in terms of deriving useful metrics from those defects and presenting them.

    A lead tester should be able to coordinate the activities of other testers to a certain extent and be able to act as a mentor to those testers, in terms of answering questions or in showing them how certain practices are carried out.

    Automation experience is, of course, necessary if the position will also require automated testing in addition to manual testing. In that case the lead tester must understand when it is and is not appropriate to use automation. The lead tester also has to realize that record-and-playback techniques to automation are not viable in the long run and should be used sparingly.


    These are just some ideas. I also tend to broaden out the concept of "testing" so it might be the case that if I have a "lead tester", part of their duties might be to test all elements of a project, such as requirements documents themselves. In that case, and if that is expected of the individual, they must have the ability and understanding to test documents like that. In other words, they must understand how to test a requirements specification (i.e., looking for quantifiable requirements, looking for testable requirements, look for vagueness and ambiguity). However, with that said, these tasks often fall more on "QA engineers", "QA analysts", or "QA specialists" than on "lead testers" or "senior testers". The reason I bring up the distinction, however, is because many organizations do not distinguish between a "test engineer" and a "QA engineer" or a "lead tester" and a "lead analyst". So it is important to understand what activities a "lead tester" will be asked to perform in the context of a given organization and then look for that experience accordingly.

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    Re: Lead Tester

    A lead tester also has to be able to represent the QA department, and stand up for QUALITY.

    Frequently, developers may deem a defect not to be important to fix - a lead tester should know what defects must be fixed prior to being shipped to the end user. They need to be assertive to state their professional opinions, and they need to have backbone to fight for their convictions.

    Too often, QA tends to be "browbeaten" into signing shipping releases when the quality isn't there yet.




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    JRica, CSTE
    Software QA Engineer Lead
    JRicardo
    Senior SQA Analyst

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    Re: Lead Tester

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by JRica:
    A lead tester also has to be able to represent the QA department, and stand up for QUALITY.

    Frequently, developers may deem a defect not to be important to fix - a lead tester should know what defects must be fixed prior to being shipped to the end user. They need to be assertive to state their professional opinions, and they need to have backbone to fight for their convictions.

    Too often, QA tends to be "browbeaten" into signing shipping releases when the quality isn't there yet.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I don't believe this necessarily applies to a 'Lead Tester' position. As Jeff mentions, it really depends on the job description. If the position is for a QA group, then sure, they must be focused on quality. If the position is for a test group that does not perform a quality function they are responsible for identifying risks with the product as it stands. They identify the known problems and untested areas, then project management determines if it should ship or not.

    I don't have the book in front of me, but I believe Kaner recommends that the test group NOT be responsible for a ship/no ship decision in 'Computer Software Testing'. Someone please correct me if I am wrong on that. I tend to agree with this because I believe a test organization (not a QA organization in this case) should focus on identifying known problems and risks with the product and report those findings to management. I do believe that the testers themselves are a great source of information on the impact of known problems and possible impacts from incomplete testing, but I do not believe in putting them on the spot for a ship/no ship decision.

    While I don't have the background that many of the participants here have, I do get the impression that most places are like mine. There are many factors besides the quality of a product that dictate when a product will ship. Even if the test or QA group doesn't want to ship a product due to poor quality, they are often bypassed (and/or browbeaten as you mention) and the product is shipped anyway. This is very demoralizing to a test group and one of the reason I don't support a ship/no ship decision. Let them identify risks and let the real decision makers do their job with that information.


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    Atlee

    [This message has been edited by awhiteleather (edited 02-07-2002).]
    Atlee

 

 

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