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 the right team, the focus should be on certain key elements like Roles & Responsibilities, Knowledge Transfer, Domain Knowledge, Career Ladder, Technical & Domain Certification, Team Dynamics & Group Outing etc.

We will explore each and every key element in detail.

Team Building in Software Testing

Team Building in Software Testing

Roles and Responsibilities

Each organization has a different hierarchy of 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.

Test leads have responsibilities like resource allocation, test planning, defining project scope, assigning testing activities to team members, monitoring software testing life cycle, preparing status reports and sharing 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 the 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.

The following points need to be clarified to the team:

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

Apart from the above all, 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 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 help them understand the core functions and logic which will be applied during testing. Brainstorming sessions are vital to share a common understanding of applications and domains.

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.

Knowledge transfer should happen in the following phases:

  • Prepare: The key people with knowledge should be identified and motivated to transfer knowledge.
  • Understand the Client: A business person or client themselves 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 documentation 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 have imparted knowledge of these environments.
  • Provide feedback: Once all KT sessions are over, you should provide feedback about the KT process. This feedback is important for improvement of the process in the future.

Domain Knowledge

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 more 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 getting them certified in the respective areas they work in 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 moral support and maturity to perform the testing activities with confidence. Domain certified resources will also leverage the intellectual knowledge gained and that can be showcased to prospective clients for new business opportunities.

It is important to ensure that 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 skillset, but to provide opportunities for 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 careers and make them eligible for their next level of role.

Making them ready for the next level of the role will obviously fulfill the need to identify and allocate 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 on the various skills required to perform in their next roles is advantageous and it also aids in continuous process improvement. Every Manager has the responsibility to explain 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 that 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 the “Priority”.

To accomplish this, everyone should work together as a “Team” by leaving all differences behind, and completing the planned tasks should be the only “Target”.

During weekly team meetings, the team members should receive information on Tasks and Priorities for the upcoming period and have a common, clear and loud understanding of the work to be performed.

Team building exercises and team outings are really necessary to burn out the stress and recharge the team to work more. This will also help for a better understanding of team members outside the project work 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 – a Test Manager in an MNC.

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