Most of the testing professionals are technically strong enough to test their solutions, but to form a strong Test Team having various skill sets and to maintain it, requires some of the individual skills that are equally important. This article focuses on individual’s skills that contribute to form a good test team and selection criteria for induction of the tester in a team.
6 Important Skills to Form an Effective Test Team (and How You Can Develop These Skills)
Skill #1: Tester’s Knowledge Base:
As we, all are aware that Testing cannot be taught to an individual. It is a continuous learning process. The tester’s knowledge is upgraded through experience or training in various diverse work areas. Some of the key areas are:
- Different software systems
- Domain Knowledge
- Various software testing phases
Testers, having knowledge of different software systems, have the best understanding of the software behavior, functions, and operations, where the test cases are bound to fail and the system’s expected reaction.
Testers having domain knowledge understand the functional requirements better. For example, in Industrial Automation, if the tester is having domain knowledge of industrial products then it becomes easy to understand if there is any gap in requirements of the product and its software, which is to be developed. This helps to prioritize the test cases and testing activities.
Basic knowledge of the software testing process starts from identifying specification requirements, creation of test cases and prioritization, risk analysis, executing tests and recording the actual results. Apart from this, test managers should have the knowledge and skills of test planning, control, tracking progress and reporting to client about the status.
Skill #2: Interpersonal Skills:
Interpersonal skill always gives a positive graph to your team. Interpersonal skill is an important factor in a tester’s role. An employee with strong interpersonal skill helps to get along well with the TEAM and communicates effectively with colleagues, customers, and clients.
To form a strong test team, a good rapport within the testers is a key point. To achieve this, carry out some interactive sessions where team will interact with each other or with new team members regarding defects or automation tools or project related discussion or brainstorming value innovative ideas.
Always build up a team comprising of all the variety of personality and technical skills. Every individual must have a defined role in the team. Balance of strengths and weaknesses of the individuals in the team should be optimized.
Skill #3: Independent Testing:
To contribute largely for delivering good quality solutions, independent testers are identified by the organisation. Independence of testing like:
- Testing performed by developer who develops the code
- Testing is performed by different developers other than who develops the code
- Testing performed by the tester who is a part of team
- Testing performed by testers from other teams
- Testing performed by the test specialist
- Testing performed by external team from different organisation
The more independent testing is directly proportional to good quality products, but these also leads to less interaction with the team and less knowledge transfer. The degree of independent testing for the testing project must be decided by the organisation based on schedule, cost, software development model and priority.
Hiring a test team from external organisation also brings challenges in a test team like culture difference, knowledge transfer, employee turnover, cost estimation, quality, skills sets and communication.
Skill #4: Motivation:
Motivation plays another important role in the formation of a good test team. If individual is not properly appreciated in his/her work, the level of interest in one’s work reduces. Individual gets demoralized and it becomes difficult to work in a team. This indirectly effects on the quality of work produced and other team members.
How to increase the motivation of your test team:
- Respect among the peers
- Appreciating the valuable inputs
- Encouraging factors from the higher management (leads and managers)
- Rewards for the quality work
To earn respect and recognition among peers is an individual’s job by providing his/her valuable contribution to the positive development of the project, but this contribution should also quantify the cost of quality and risk mitigation.
Skill #5: Communication – A Key Factor:
As we discuss the above points, you must have noticed that all the points are based on one basic rule that is an effective communication.
Test Team often communicates with the peers regarding:
- Documentation of the work products where there should not be any gap in requirements and understanding. Developers and testers should be synchronous in their approach for an effective work
- Feedback related to functional documents, specification requirement, and estimations
- Documentation of the test team consists of test plan, test cases, test strategy, test defect report, etc
Effective communication is very important while reporting defect to the development team. It should not lead to any conflicts within the team. It should be professional, precise, diplomatic and effective in the interest of the project.
Skill #6: Team Bonding
How to improve team bonding:
Every team faces problem related to the low morale. Organization with high morale experience high productivity. Let us see the root causes of low morale in the team and how it can be corrected.
Sometimes the morale of the team suffers because of (naming few of them) poor leadership, poor communication, inflexible work conditions, team turnover, difficult co-workers, losing big client or project, heavy workloads or stress. This leads to low morale like obvious unhappiness, employee turnover, conflicts between team members, decrease productivity, complaints against peers or work.
In such cases reconnect with your team by some brainstorming sessions, constant contacts, hanging around, project lunch, appreciating by just saying good Job done, rewards, giving them opportunities to explore and learn, setting up objectives and goals for them.
On day to day basis, testers have to communicate with the clients, developers, different teams, users, and customers. So the basic skills mentioned as communication, interpersonal skills, and knowledge should be effective enough to maintain a strong link between all of them.
Test team is a mixture of all diverse options both professionally and personally. Practically it is a challenge, a different task altogether to cope with, as no one is perfect. However, we all should work for only one goal in the organisation that is, effective work product and positive contribution to the organisation.
Over to you:
What skills do you think are most important to form an effective test team?
This is a guest article by Meghna Jadhav. She is graduated in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering from Mumbai University and currently working in iGATE computers, as a Senior Software Test Engineer.
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