The responsibility for the test effort’s success is the task of the Test Manager. Regardless if you call the role Test Manager, Test Lead or simply QA Engineer, each organization should have a role that involves quality, resource planning and resource management (in regards to testing) and resolution of issues that delay the test effort.
Agree Mission: Negotiate the use of testing resources and agree on the testing objectives
Plan Test Resources: Plan and manage the testing resources to achieve the testing objectives
Assess Test Effort: Assess the testing effort and its effectiveness
Assess Quality: Assess quality by analyzing important defects and their impact on the software
Improve Test Effort: Make adjustments to the test effort to improve the effectiveness
In the first part of the series, let’s look at the mission agreement activity. The test manager has to decide in this phase on the most effective use of the available testing resources and also agree on a set of objectives that can be achieved with the available testing resources.
How to do it?
The first step is to understand what the testing objectives are. This can be done by identifying the scope and objectives of the testing effort. For a better understanding, the test manager can also conduct a series of informal discussions with project managers or software architects. Sometimes, these types of discussions can highlight certain concern way better than documents or requirements. Another advantage of discussing with other members of the project staff regarding the test objectives is gaining an insight of the expectations of the software development team.
As a second step, use the stakeholders and other team members to gain input and feedback for the testing objectives defined previously. By doing this, the development team also takes ownership of the testing process, which in return will increase the importance given to software testing within the project.
In order to guide the test team when difficult choices must be made regarding the focus of testing within certain constraints (lack of time or resources for example), formulate a mission statement. Define a list of objectives, ordered by priority, that can guide a team member through a difficult decision.
The third step would require the test manager to identify the test deliverable. What value is the test effort bringing to the project? Who will benefit from the testing effort outcome? Are the results important to the stakeholders? Are the findings more relevant to the development team? Create a list containing the deliverables by which you want the success of the test effort to be measured.
The fourth step may not be necessary for all working environments, but a test manager should gain the stakeholders agreement. This should be done to receive associated support for the testing effort (budget for the testing resources for example).
The final step of the mission agreement should be about evaluation and verification of the results. Verify if the work brings sufficient value and if it is complete enough to be useful to the team.