Most 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 different individual skills that are equally important.
This article focuses on an individual’s skills that contribute to forming a good test team and selection criteria for induction of the tester into a team.
What You Will Learn:
How to form an Effective Software Test Team
6 Important Skills to Form an Effective Test Team (and How You Can Develop These Skills)
Skill #1: Tester’s Knowledge Base
We are aware that Testing cannot be taught to an individual. It is a continuous learning process. The tester’s knowledge is continuously 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 that have knowledge of different software systems possess the best understanding of the software behavior, functions, and operations, where 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 has domain knowledge of industrial products then it becomes easy to understand if there is any gap in requirements of the product and the software which is to be developed. This helps to prioritize the test cases and testing activities.
Basic knowledge of the software testing process starts with identifying specification requirements, a 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 status reporting to the client
Skill #2: Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills always give a positive uplift to your team. Interpersonal skills are an important factor in a tester’s role. An employee with strong interpersonal skills gets along well with the team and communicates effectively with colleagues, customers, and clients.
To form a strong test team, a good rapport amongst the testers is a key point. To achieve this, carry out some interactive sessions where the team will interact with each other or with new team members regarding defects or automation tools, or project related discussions, or brainstorming valuable innovative ideas.
Always build a team comprised of a variety of personal and technical skills. Every individual must have a defined role in the team. The balance of strengths and weaknesses of the individuals in the team should be optimized.
Skill #3: Independent Testing
To contribute to delivering good quality solutions, independent testers are identified by the organization. Independence of testing such as:
- Testing performed by the developer who develops the code
- Testing performed by different developers other than those who develop the code
- Testing performed by the tester who is a part of the team
- Testing performed by testers from other teams
- Testing performed by the test specialist
- Testing performed by an external team from a different organization
The extent of independent testing is directly proportional to good quality products, but this also leads to less interaction within the team and less knowledge transfer. The degree of independent testing for the testing project must be decided by the organization based on schedule, cost, software development model and priority.
Hiring a test team from an external organization also brings challenges in a test team such as cultural differences, 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 individuals are not properly appreciated for their work, their level of interest in the work reduces. The individuals get demoralized and it becomes difficult to work in the team. This affects the quality of work produced and also other team members.
How to increase the motivation of your test team:
- Respect among peers
- Appreciating the value of inputs
- Encouraging remarks and actions from higher management (leads and managers)
- Rewards for quality work
Individuals earn respect and recognition from peers by providing a valuable contribution to the positive development of the project.
Skill #5: Communication – A Key Factor
As we discussed each of the above points, you may have noticed that all of them are based on one basic rule. That is effective communication.
A Test Team often communicates with peers regarding:
- Documentation of the work products where there should not be any gap in requirements and understanding. Developers and testers should be synchronized in their approach to effective work
- Feedback related to functional documents, specification requirement, and estimates
- Documentation of the test team consists of the test plan, test cases, test strategy, test defect report, etc.
Effective communication is very important while reporting defects 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 occasionally faces problems related to low morale. Organizations with high morale experience high productivity. Let us examine the root causes of low morale in the team and how it can be corrected.
Sometimes the morale of the team suffers because of (to name just a few reasons) poor leadership, poor communication, inflexible work conditions, team turnover, difficult co-workers, losing a big client or project, heavy workloads or stress. This leads to low morale that manifests in obvious unhappiness, employee turnover, conflicts between team members, decreased productivity, and complaints regarding peers or work.
In such cases, reconnect with your team by organizing brainstorming sessions, maintaining constant contact, hanging around, project launches, expressing appreciating by just saying “you did a good job”, rewards, giving them opportunities to explore and learn, setting up objectives and goals for them.
On a day to day basis, testers have to communicate with clients, developers, different teams, users, and customers. So the basic skills mentioned covering communication, interpersonal skills, and knowledge, should be effective enough to maintain a strong link between all of them.
A test team is a mixture of diverse personalities and backgrounds, both professional and personal. It is undoubtedly a challenge to manage successfully, as no one is perfect.
However, we all should work towards one goal in the organization; deliver effective work and positive contribution to the organization.
About Author: This is a guest article by Meghna Jadhav. She is working as a Senior Software Test Engineer in an MNC.
What skills do you think are most important to form an effective test team?