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  1. #1
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    Hiring a brand new test team

    Hi guys,

    I just moved to a new company and among other tasks I will be in charge of creating a brand new team of testers that will replace the in house testing contractors.

    When in the past I hired testers I always had a specific role to fill with specific tasks and skills required so I normally selected the guy who would do the job the best and in my opinion could give us better ROI in the future and this generally worked.

    At the moment I find myself in slightly more complicated position because I still know very little about the project I'm working on and I'm in the need of hiring a brand new team of 5 testers.

    What I would like to do is to create a team that works together well looking at mixing different levels of skills and personalities. The problem is, how do I do that? [img]/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]

    As regards Skills:

    There is a basic set of skills that each tester needs to have but what will work the best of the following options?

    1. Homogeneous team: Testers with very similar set of skills and experience. Once in the team an assessment will be done and specific tasks and growth paths assigned. Salary level on hiring will be the same.

    2. Heterogeneous team: Testers will come from very different work experiences with personal skills that can contribute to a specific task in the new project. Salary level will depend on experience and specific skills.

    3. None of the above, please suggest [img]/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    Personality and work approach:

    People, even with the exact same skills work in very different ways.
    How do I make sure I will have in the team analytical and detail oriented people together with innovators? I would like to have a balance of the 2 categories because in my experience even though sometimes they might have problems working together the mix normally produces the best result.
    Is there some sort of attitude test that can be run to differentiate in this case?
    What mix would you suggest 3 analytical 2 innovators, 4 analytical 1 innovator?

    Any other suggestion on the subject would be strongly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance for your help,

    Gus

  2. #2
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    Re: Hiring a brand new test team

    The first question I'd consider is why does the contract team need to be replaced? Are they not performing? Is the contract up and boss-types want to re-negotiate at a much higher rate?

    If they are getting the job done, are there other reasons for replacing them or is this a pointy-haired-boss idea?

    Depending on the answers to these (and other) questions, why not assimilate them? Hire the lot if they're getting the job done...

  3. #3
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    Re: Hiring a brand new test team

    A few questions first:

    You have a team in place now, albeit made up of contractors. How effective is that team? What skills do they have? Are there are any skill gaps? What roles do they fulfil?

    That would be my starting point, i.e. find out what I have now and what I need to replicate with the new team. This requires some idea of what skills are required for testing within the project and your boss may be able to help here (if only by telling you what was wrong before you arrived!), the current team will have a good view, the Project Manager will also have a view. Take the views as input and then make up your own mind.

    I suspect you are under some pressure to get rid of the contractors as soon as possible, but I would make sure you have analysed what your project needs before making any hiring decisions.

    Mix of skills and personalities? Again you need to determine what you need for both. Skills is easier, personalities is what you feel most comfortable managing (being aware that everyone you hire should not be a clone of yourself a common mistake).

    Without knowing the specifics of your situation, it is difficult to try to advise you much more.

  4. #4
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    Re: Hiring a brand new test team

    [ QUOTE ]
    The first question I'd consider is why does the contract team need to be replaced? Are they not performing? Is the contract up and boss-types want to re-negotiate at a much higher rate?

    If they are getting the job done, are there other reasons for replacing them or is this a pointy-haired-boss idea?

    Depending on the answers to these (and other) questions, why not assimilate them? Hire the lot if they're getting the job done...

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Thanks a lot for your suggestion but unfortunately the reason for changing doesn't depend on the contractors' performance but comes "packaged" within a company reorganization that is in place. The guys are pretty good but they are employed by a consulting company and I don't think it woul be politically correct for us to offer them a job.

  5. #5
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    Re: Hiring a brand new test team

    [ QUOTE ]
    A few questions first:

    You have a team in place now, albeit made up of contractors. How effective is that team? What skills do they have? Are there are any skill gaps? What roles do they fulfil?

    That would be my starting point, i.e. find out what I have now and what I need to replicate with the new team.


    [/ QUOTE ]

    I'm currently working on assessing this and I have a pretty good idea of the tasks involved in the test process utilised till now.

    [ QUOTE ]
    I suspect you are under some pressure to get rid of the contractors as soon as possible, but I would make sure you have analysed what your project needs before making any hiring decisions.


    [/ QUOTE ]

    You are spot on here, there is a deadline and it has to be respected no matter what.

    [ QUOTE ]
    everyone you hire should not be a clone of yourself a common mistake).


    [/ QUOTE ]

    God save me from that [img]/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

    Thanks a million for the suggestions!

    Gus

  6. #6
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    Re: Hiring a brand new test team

    If there is a contractor you would like to hire there is nothing wrong with bringing up the subject with the consulting company, they may be receptive and so may the person you want to hire.
    Lynne

    I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work" --Thomas Edison

  7. #7
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    Re: Hiring a brand new test team

    There's nothing wrong with exploring the possibility of hiring the contractors full time. If they are managed through a contracting firm you may need to look over their contract and maybe do some sort of buyout. Maybe it will be too expensive or they won't want to become employees, but it's worth a shot if they are performing well.

    Are you simply replacing them with new testers or forming a new department and reviewing procedures? If the latter, you'll want at least one or two people with management skills and experience implementing good processes.

    Overall, I'd say get a mix of personalities and skills. Maybe some are better at documentation, others better at maintaining test environments, etc. If they all have the same background you run the risk of not having anyone well suited to a particular task.

  8. #8
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    Re: Hiring a brand new test team

    Augusto

    Sounds like your have some rampant ideology going on here. Is it a cost question or preference of permanents over contractors ?

    I would be doing an analysis of the current test team and its strengths/weaknesses and look replacements based on where you want to head.

    My experience has shown that like minded people may work well together, it does not mean you get the best outcome. You need a mixture of skills, experience and backgrounds in any team. People like to grow and learn from work, employing clones will not achieve such.

    One of the best testers I have employed was a Saxophone Player.
    Robert Tehve
    rtehve@bigpond.com

  9. #9
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    Re: Hiring a brand new test team

    Augusto

    Can I step slightly forwards in time here, and suggest that one of the best uses of the remaining time of your current contractors may be for you to set up an exercise in 'damage limitation' and capture as much essential knowledge from the departing team as possible.

    No-one likes being replaced when they are doing a good job, and they will be demotivated, but you need to focus on what you need in getting the team you do recruit up to speed and effective as soon as possible.

    Occasionaly, it has been know for contractors to make their position more secure by a tendency to 'empire build' and keep information in their heads rather than written down, and it's your responsibility to ensure this is mitigated.

    Kevin

 

 

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