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.

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:

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.

What You Will Learn:

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 logic 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:

Domain Knowledge

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

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 fulfil 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

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.

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