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  1. #1
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    Job descriptions/responsibilities

    Having just come to an organisation with no testing, and being asked to pretty much define my own role, I am heavily into job descriptions at the moment! I am placing nearly as much emphasis on what I am not responsible for too, as there's a great deal of confusion here.

    I wondered, what are your job descriptions - if you're happy to post them, or a synopsis of them, and your responsibilities? Also, perhaps, what is not included? I'd be very interested.
    "Even when the experts all agree, they may well be mistaken."

  2. #2
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    Re: Job descriptions/responsibilities

    As a Consultant, my job description is very simple...do whatever it takes to make the users happy.

  3. #3
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    Re: Job descriptions/responsibilities

    A main aspect of my job description (which, like you, is a role that I have had to define) is to educate people on what it means to test and how quality is a contextual and situational term that testing, by itself, won't help you define. Further, my job description, as I have written it, is to become a credible reporter of empirical information that people value because it helps them make informed business and technical decisions.

    Now, obviously, the devil is very much in the details but, as you can see, this description leaves me open to define a role as I see fit, but while still allowing checks and balances on what I do. After all, if people don't think I provide empirical information, then I'm failing in that part of my job. If my information is often not credible, again, I'm not doing so hot. If people find they can't make decisions based on what I provide to them, well ... you see the pattern.

    I've found that nailing down a job description too specifically beyond that isn't helpful. I feel that my greatest asset to a company is my internalized values, my experience (which shaped my values), and my ability to think about solutions and implement those solutions that make the most sense given the context and situation. That set of aspects is hard to nail down in a specific job description so I don't try. Usually what I do, when asked to define my own role, is provide what I just said here as a type of charter, but then also give some idea of what specific practices and techniques I follow.

  4. #4
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    Re: Job descriptions/responsibilities

    Jeff you are so right - my role has caused real controversy, and I still (as yet) am unsure why! So in my job description I am including a "headline" like yours, to try and encapsulate what it is I am here to do (and spookily, it is exactly the same as yours - except your wording of the information reporting bit is better, so I will steal it if that's ok?!). If people get confused about specific tasks or responsibilities (because, although I may try, you can bet I won't list them all) they should just think "does it fall under her "umbrella", high level responsiblity?" and be able to get themselves an answer.
    "Even when the experts all agree, they may well be mistaken."

  5. #5
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    Re: Job descriptions/responsibilities

    [ QUOTE ]
    ...my role has caused real controversy, and I still (as yet) am unsure why!

    [/ QUOTE ]

    In my case, it wasn't so much controversy as it was just ... confusion, I guess. A lot of it had to do with expectations. What people thought they knew and understood about testing were concepts that I often challenged.

    [ QUOTE ]
    ...so I will steal it if that's ok?!).

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Steal away! All my ideas are "open content." [img]/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    [ QUOTE ]
    If people get confused about specific tasks or responsibilities (because, although I may try, you can bet I won't list them all) they should just think "does it fall under her "umbrella", high level responsiblity?" and be able to get themselves an answer.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I would say that in my case the "umbrella" of activities that I can reasonably take on is often dictated by my values, which I encapsulate in my strategy. (I'm not talking "test strategy" here, but the more overarching Strategy.) What I tell people is that my strategy always works relative to given constraints and resources but it also works based on a core set of values. That core set of values makes the strategy pretty rigid.

    Here's kind of how I look at it and present it. Any test team needs to be sure that all activities of the test effort are adequate and properly executed. If they can't do that, they shouldn't be doing the activity. (Perhaps it's a resource problem. Perhaps it's some other constraint. But the point is that if I can't adequately do something in a proper way, then even it should be under my "umbrella", it can't be for now.)

    Here's how I frame that in questions when deciding what to take on and what I have to hold off on:

    <ul type="square">[*]How much of the thing I'm being asked to do could I do adequately?[*]Could I control the activity adequately enough to allow it to give me useful information? [*]Could I measure it adequately enough to allow others ot use the information to make decisions?[/list]What does "adequate" mean, though?

    This comes down to the goal of the test effort for me. This goal is not so much to determine what is and what isn't of value in our product or service. That's ultimately a business decision. The goal of my test effort is, as I said, to provide enough information to help people make informed decisions about whether the value they believe is necessary for success does, in fact, exist. If I believe something will stop me from doing that -- and doing that accurately (precision) and effectively (speed) -- then I bring that up and I show why I believe that.

    This helps me set expectations of not only what my role currently is but the way in which my role can potentially evolve as the scope of what I am able to do changes. It also allows me to show people that my goal is not "quality assurance" -- at least not all by lonesome. Rather, my goal (and the basis of my strategy) is to determine what the agreed upon notion of quality means for a given project/product and then perform enough investigation to allow others to determine if that quality is present or is lacking.

    I sort of rattled the above off as I philosophized in my head so there are probably bits that don't quite make sense. But just know that it all makes sense in my head. [img]/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]

  6. #6
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    Re: Job descriptions/responsibilities

    No, it makes sense. Well I think it does! I totally agree with you on your point of goals of the test effort. As I am now in a very immature organisation, I do come across some worrying attitudes to/understandings of what software testing means. To many (including the overall test manager, to my shock) it means a standard set of heavyweight documents for every single project. I rail against this. To others, it means that I will ensure to them that no bugs ever make it to live! To others, it means that I'm going to give developers a very hard time.

    To me, it's exactly what you've outlined. I intend to start by putting change control in (nope, they don't have it and wonder why stuff is late) and formal bug tracking, capturing metrics and getting the information I require to "wrap up" and pass to my management and other interested parties, such as the Support team.

    I like your description, because you can clearly see the "higher level picture". I find, in the software development world, that this is rare, and that we can add a lot if we do have this ability to abstract.
    "Even when the experts all agree, they may well be mistaken."

 

 

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