What Should Be Your Expectations From the QA Team Lead?

When a topic, especially a process based one (For example: Creating a traceability matrix or test documentation review, etc) is discussed in the class, the immediate question I get is: “Who does this? The QA lead or the team member”

This is great proof that beginners have a difficult time understanding the scope of work, roles and responsibilities. They only have a vague idea about this and are often looking for ways to validate if their understanding is accurate or not. And, if you are thinking this is only an issue for new comers, you are wrong. Lots of managers/leads/coordinators also find the role definition/delegation of work to be an issue due to lack of clarity in this area- what to do yourself and what to delegate is often a dilemma for the QA leads.

qa team lead

Just like some of you might think, I was wondering too that, “What if they don’t know to begin with? Won’t they figure out as they go?” Yes, they do. But lots of time, efficiency and quality are compromised in the process.

To avoid all that, we have outlined the major tasks that are part of STLC and the respective responsibilities in the form of the below table:

Team lead’s responsibilities for different QA activities:

STLC activityQA Team lead TasksTeam member tasks
Project Kickoff- StartCreate and present the project highlights to the QA team and other stakeholdersTo assist and let the team lead know of any improvements or inconsistencies
Test PlanningCreate, Maintain, manage and enforce Test plan

Risk analysis and management
To provide inputs on areas of the test plan document, such as:
Scope
Assumptions
Risks
Milestones
and any other area that the team member has an input on.
Requirement gatheringDivide work based on modules of the application and choose team members as point of contacts for each module

Decide on a time when this is to take place

Let the team be aware of what is expected as an outcome (e.g.: list of requirements in a condensed point by point manner, understanding document, etc.)
Be in charge for your individual module

Gather requirements through BRD/FRD review or walkthrough meetings

Present/document them in the format expected, within the time allocated for this activity

Provide suggestions or alternate point of view in case of incompatible formats or unachievable time lines
Test scenario creationWork allocation
Query resolution
Template finalizing
Setting deadlines
Participating and contributing to test scenario creation
Create Test scenarios for the module allocated to you, with in the set timeline and in the format already agreed upon.

Seek resolution either from the team lead or from the respective technical
teams in case of questions
Test case documentationWork allocation
Query resolution
Template finalizing
Write test cases
Create test cases and data, when applicable
Traceability Matrix creationCreate template and share the guidelines on how to create a TM

Work with the team and contribute to it
Contribute to the creation of the TM for the modules that you are individually responsible for
Test documentation review- internalSet rules on what basis the review is to happen

Set time lines and responsibilities

be one of the peers and involve in the review process
Perform review based on the rules set and provide non-personal comments on your peer's work
Test documentation review- externalNotify the BA and/or dev team that the test documentation(test cases) is ready for review and send the work productOn Standby to incorporate any changes suggested during the review process
Test readiness reviewCreate the review checklist

Perform the review and present results to the Project manager

Basic Sanity and smoke test and determine- are we ready we test?

Give a go ahead to the QA team for testing
Wait for instructions on readiness

Perform basic smoke and sanity test for the modules that you are individually responsible for
Test executionSet test execution guidelines after seeking the team’s inputs

Work on test execution

Help new testers with catching on with the current application

Report defects

Review the defects reported by the team members to make sure that they are valid, not duplicates and complete in the description

Escalate any showstoppers and make decisions on how to proceed in such situations
Execute test cases, set appropriate test case statuses and report progress

Notify immediately of showstoppers or issues impacting testing timelines

Report defects comprehensively
ReportingSend daily status reports to all stake holders

Represent the QA team in any status meetings

Collect metrics based on overall testing statistics
Assist the team lead in all the tasks being performed
Test closureEvaluate the exit criteria for when to stop testing

Share the results of the exit criteria evaluation

If the exit criteria is all satisfied, make the test closure report and send it to the stake holders providing the official QA sign off, include a list of known issues

Collect details about the overall project- its successes, areas of improvement, lessons learnt, best practices implemented, etc and present them in the project retrospection meeting or document.
Assist the team lead in the test closure tasks
UATGather the acceptance criteria from the UAT users to understand the parameters for their evaluation

Share the acceptance criteria with the team and work with them on collecting or creating UAT test cases

If necessary, train the UAT users on the application

If necessary, be on standby for any assistance during UAT

If necessary, perform some tasks during UAT and present the results to the client or UAT users for their go/no-go decision
Create/gather UAT test cases


Perform or assist in UAT – when need be

For all the processes mentioned in the above table, follow the below links for more information:


A few tips for QA team members:

1) Do NOT create your Test cases, defect reports etc. with the expectation that if there are any problems with it, the team lead will find and fix them for you. Each individual is responsible for their work product and its quality. A team lead’s review is customary as an additional checkpoint and most often high level in nature.

2) Expect little to no hand-holding on a daily basis. No team lead should tell us what to do, every single day.

3) Communicate ahead in case of any concerns, red-flags or issues.

4) Unless your process restricts you from doing so, if you have any questions regarding the functionality or technicalities, please get in touch with the developers/BAs/other technical teams by yourself, without relying on your team lead to relay the information for you.

Tips for QA team leads:

1) Consider team’s opinion on timelines, schedules, effort estimations and planning

2) Establish strong processes so the team can work independently with minimum or no supervision

3) Keep the communication channels open and be approachable

4) Be a team player and share responsibilities

Also read => How to build a successful QA team? Leadership in Testing Part 1 and Part 2 here.

About the author: This article is written by STH team member Swati S.

That is a quick wrap up on team lead and team member tasks and duties in a typical QA team. As always, please share your experiences, comments and questions below.




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13 comments ↓

#1 dinesh kangabam

It seems there are no sections on Automation testing – designing test scripts and frameworks or selection of automation tools that has to be decided by QA lead.
Rest of the article is very informative and very helpful for budding QA lead.

#2 Sampath kumar M

Thank you for such a good and useful article

#3 Piyush Dubey

Hi Team,

In past years you published different articles on different topics and all were helpful.Thanks for your help and support to all QA members.
I saw your one of the article on ETL/Datawarehouse process. Can you please publish a series of tutorial on ETL/Datawarehouse testing process.

#4 Richa

Very nice post indeed.

#5 shiv

Good article, outlines the workflow very well.

#6 Anurag

Thanks , very informative to any QA .

Thanks for the efforts

#7 Jayne Njuneki

Thank you. Very clear roles.

#8 Dayle

I believe the matrix needs to be created by System Engineering staff. This group should be working with design engineers prior to even the start of coding.
The test manager will access this item ans assign staf to start drafting testing documents after its completion.

#9 George

The article doesn’t seem to take in to account for the Agile workflow these days…
Article is perfect for waterfall :)

#10 Swati Seela

@dinesh: Since automation is much more technical, it is usually sort of a work shop scenario and the team lead, team member difference is not as prominent.

This is an attempt from a process perspective.

Thanks for stopping by…

#11 Swati Seela

@Dayle: Well, the process differs from team to team. This is from an internal QA team stand point…great input though..Thanks for your readership!

#12 Swati Seela

@All: Thank you!

#13 Gaurav Khurana

Good article, I would like you to write one where you differentiate between QA lead and Manager roles also.

There should be a section in above article where it should be mentioned what all should not be done by QA lead

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