Team Building in Software Testing – How to Build and Grow Your QA Team

Just like software development, software testing also requires some important factors to develop and maintain that can contribute to continuous process improvement. One such significant factor is Team Building. While building a right team, the focus should be on the following key elements:

Roles and Responsibilities

Each organization has a different hierarchy, roles & responsibilities in the QA team. However, on a broader level, there are two levels of the role in the software testing team. The first is the test lead or test manager and another is the test engineer or QC tester or QA tester.

Team Building in Software Testing

A test lead has the responsibilities like resource allocation, test planning, defining project scope, assign testing activities to the team members, monitor software testing life cycle, prepare the status report and share with higher management, participating in customer interactions, etc.

A test engineer is mainly responsible for understanding & analyzing the requirements, creating test scenarios, test cases & test steps, setting priority for each testing activity, perform testing & report bugs, keep the lead informed about the testing status, etc.

The software testing team should have a proper structure where roles & responsibilities of each member are clearly defined & understood.

It is very important for the team members to understand what they are supposed to do. This is quite often not communicated or discussed with the team.

If each team member is aware of his role & responsibility, then it becomes easier for the team as a whole to achieve its goal sooner & better.

Before the start of a project, the team members must be explained on the typical tasks which they will be performing on a daily basis for their respective roles. Be it a tester or a test lead, setting the expectations and explaining what is expected out of them will give correct results without unnecessary delays or errors.

Following points need to be clarified to the team:

  • Scope of the Project
  • Roles and Responsibilities expected from everyone
  • Key points to focus like Deliverables, Timelines etc.
  • Explain about the Strategy and Plan

And above all this, the team members have the primary responsibility to keep in mind their own career aspirations, growth, learning etc. These will be the key motivators to perform in their current roles and excel in the same.

Knowledge Transfer

Knowledge Transfer

It is very vital for the testers to understand the Domain as well as the functions of the application. This enables them to thoroughly test the application under test. KT sessions are essential to make them understand the core functions and logics which will be applied during testing. Brainstorming sessions are vital to share a common understanding of application and domain.

There should be a healthy knowledge sharing atmosphere in the team where everyone can learn & grow.

Testers should be involved in discussions right from the start of the project. Initial discussions essentially consist of Business people, Architects, Developers, Database experts etc. Involving testers during these early stages of software development will provide good knowledge and understanding about the application that is going to be developed and tested.

The knowledge transfer should happen in following phases:

  • Prepare: The key people having the knowledge should be identified and motivated to transfer the knowledge.
  • Understand the Client: A business person or client itself can impart this knowledge to you.
  • Get familiar with the application: It is critical to understand the application you are going to test. You should be provided with proper documentations of the application.
  • Get familiar with the teams, processes & systems: You should be made aware of what development lifecycle model is followed in the project (Agile or some other), what are the test processes and which test management tools are being used. Get the basic idea of all tools & processes used in the project.
  • Study the application environments – there are different application boxes like dev, cert, test & prod. You should be imparted knowledge of these environments.
  • Provide feedback: Once all the KT sessions are over, you should provide feedback about the KT process. This feedback is important for improvement in the process in future.

Domain Knowledge

Domain Knowledge

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Understanding the application’s Domain (e.g. Healthcare, Insurance, Education, Banking, etc.) is very important and will be helpful for testers to verify the functionality with different perspectives. The tester should be able to wear the hat of the end customer as well as an SME.

Domain knowledge building takes time and only over the period of working in a particular domain, the resource will be able to get a sound knowledge of the domain he is working in. Sometimes, a tester will get a chance to test different applications belonging to the same domain, so testing becomes easier and meaningful if he has knowledge of the overall domain.

Technical and Domain Certifications

Having a talented pool of testers is definitely a big asset for the project. The focus should be on training the team and get them certified in the respective areas they work by nominating for internal certifications. There are also a lot of external certifications which can also be selected and get the team trained & certified in those areas.

Certifications will definitely give the team a moral support and maturity to perform the testing activities with confidence. Domain certified resources will also leverage the intellectual knowledge gain which can be showcased to prospective clients for new business opportunities.

It is important to ensure the testing team members jointly have the right combination of domain knowledge & technical skills required to achieve the common testing goals of the team.

Career Ladder

Career Ladder

It’s not enough to create just a team of testers with all skill set, but to provide opportunities to them to rise up in their career ladder is also significantly important. Create career-building programs for them or nominate their names for programs that can shape their career and make them eligible for their next level of role. Making them ready for the next level of the role will obviously fulfill the needs of identifying and allocating resources in the project as and when required. Team meetings can be effectively utilized to discuss their roles and responsibilities for the next level. Educating them the various skills required to perform in their next roles is advantageous and also aids in continuous process improvement. Every Manager has the responsibility to explain about the duties that are expected to be performed when the resources are getting promoted. This will make sure that not just a set of resources are promoted, but a ready-to-work, responsible and skilled individuals are being promoted.

Team Dynamics and Group Outing

Team Dynamics and Group Outing

It’s quite obvious to ensure there is a level of healthy team dynamics established and followed by the team for effective group work, meeting common goals, finishing planned targets and achieving goals on time. It is vital to make them understand that “Project” is the common objective for all in the project and completing what the customer wants is “Priority”. To accomplish this, everyone should work together as a “Team” leaving all differences behind and completing the planned tasks should be the only “Target”. During weekly team meetings, the team members should receive the information on Tasks, Priorities for the upcoming period and have a common, clear and loud understanding on the work to be performed.

Team building exercises and team outings are really necessary to burn out the stress and recharging the team to work more. This will also help for a better understanding between team members outside the project works and in a different environment altogether. A small token of appreciation can be announced during team meetings to identify talents and to encourage and motivate others to perform better.

About Author: This is a guest post by Baskar Subramanian. The author is working as a Test Manager for an MNC.

Further reading: Read the related articles below:

If you enjoy this post, please consider sharing it with your friends. Also, put your thoughts and ideas in comments on how to build a successful QA team.



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34 comments ↓

#1 Amit Singh

we usually keep some monthly event and assign a QA team member with all the responsibilities to make it a success. This way he or she can learn the team leading skill. this also increase team bonding to work together.

#2 ramya

articles are very useful to me to understanding the things in a clear way. keep sending always

#3 Sudhamshu Ailineni

Hello Bhaskar,

What do you mean by “Technical and Domain Certifications”, can you please elaborate on this?

Also can you let us know how certified is different from a tester who has no certificates?

Thanks,
Sudhamshu

#4 vignesh

Hi

can you let us know how certified is different from a tester who has no certificates?

#5 chaitra chai

Thank u

#6 Satish

Thanx a lot…

#7 Rajesh

Nice Article for the peoples who wants to become a Test Lead

#8 Rakesh

Hi,

Very nice article actually building QA team is as difficult as staying in testing field. Because companies still feels that there is no need of tester developers are sufficient for performing testing.

Thanks & Regards
Rakesh Nijhawan

#9 barath

very useful……

#10 Anubhav

Thanks for sharing your experience

#11 Jharna Solanki

Its very good those who recently started their career in testing…..!

#12 Baskar Subramanian

Hi..Thanks for posting your comments and feedback.

Sorry that I didnt visit this page for quite some time. Definitely will keep responding to your queries ASAP.

@Amith Singh.
Your process and approach is correct and will yield results!!

@Sudhamshu Ailineni, Vignesh
Technical Certifications – CSTE, ISTQB, ISEB etc..you can Google these to find more info.

Domain Certifications – For example, If you work in Banking/Insurance testing projects, the company may provide trainings and help to obtain certifications like Basics of Banking, INS(insurance) etc., which will make you a Domain certified Tester.

Definitely Certification adds good visibility, recognition in interviews and help in career growth.

#13 Vasanthi

Hi Baskar,

Good one..

Can you please elaborate on what you mean by “Internal Certification”. Also if you can throw some more light on Certifications that should be helpful.

Regards,
Vasanthi

#14 Vasim

it is very usefull for us

#15 Nishant

Superb article sir…very nice effort.

#16 Anuradha

Thanks for explaining the key elements of testing. A very nice article.

#17 Anubhav

Dear Baskar,

I have three quries

1. How much experience required for domain certification
2. If company does not provide domain certification , can i do from outside or from any other company
3. For E-commerce domain, is there any certification

#18 Baskar Subramanian

@Anubhav – For company’s internal certification, there’s no limit on experience.If you had acquired domain knowledge and ready to take up exam, then u can proceed.
Yes, There are some external institutions like http://www.iibf.org.in. Check it out.

#19 Baskar Subramanian

@Vasanthi – Internal Certifications are provided by the Company based on the Domain in which the Project fits into. E.g-One day training and certification on Testing Fundamentals or Automation Testing. Experienced staff will be the Faculty for these Training programs.

#20 Srid

Hi,

Nice to see your article and i’m sure that this will help and attract the beginners. request to post more such a info.

Thanx.

#21 Kannan Manoharan

Its very informative. Thanks.

#22 Chaitra

It’s very informative… We always understand “What to do”… but million bucks Question is “How to do in Smart Way”…

#23 Raveendra

Thanks for the information posted over here ,can we expect basics sqls testing here?

#24 Baskar Subramanian

Hi Srid, Kannan,Chaitra,Raveendra,ofs: Thanks for your valuable time and feedback. Sure, will try to post more information.Thanks for the encouragement.

#25 Ravindra Kumbar

Hi Baskar,

It’s a unique article on Team Building and to grow as a QA professional.
Normally Testing professionals concentrate on testing processes to be followed and rarely plan for Team building activities and personal growth. I have seen people procastinating the certification processes.

Thanks for throughing some light on professional growth through domain knowledge and certifications.

Keep posting!

Ravindra Kumbar

#26 Veeraraghavan K

Thalaivare,

Your Article on Team Building in Software Testing is Superb Thalaivare.
It is an excellent explanation on how the Team work helps in sucessful Deliver using the Team Coordination and Team Building.
Super Sir……..

#27 Ravi Kumar Verma

Hi,

Very nice article.

Being a Tester, we always concentrate on STLC and core testing stuff, but it’s good to see you updating this Valuable article. It is goanna help everyone belongs to Testing.

Thanks for sharing your experience
Eyes on your next article…

Thanks,
Ravi Kumar Verma

#28 Andrews Baburaj

Hi Baskar,

Great article for testers to read. It contains details very short and with easy understading. Anticipating another great article very soon :)

What kind of certifications you suggest on Domain area?

#29 Ramesh

Bhaskar, thanks for sharing such a wonderful information.

Looking for more updates!!!

#30 Baskar Subramanian

Hi Ravindra,Veera,Ravi Verma – Thanks for your feedback. Will definitely write another useful article for the Testing community.

#31 Baskar Subramanian

Hi Ramesh, Thanks for the feedback.
@Andrews – Testers can obtain certification in the Domain in which they work (i.e perform Testing) Eg. For those who work in Retail/Supply, any relevant certification in these Domains will provide them knowledge and recognition from Clients as well.

#32 Shehan

Hi

Good article.
I m working as a Test Manager(Actually Im new to it)
Our team is planing to start game testing newly, So if someone know let me know how can I increase the knowledge and skills in my team for Game QA.

Thank You.
Shehan

#33 ambika pratap

thank you

#34 Ambika Pratap

Technical Certifications – CSTE, ISTQB, ISEB etc..you can Google these to find more info.

Domain Certifications – For example, If you work in Banking/Insurance testing projects, the company may provide trainings and help to obtain certifications like Basics of Banking, INS(insurance) etc., which will make you a Domain certified Tester.

thank you

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