I’m starting 2022 in a more senior role, and it has been an aspiration for the last few years to build myself up to this point. I’ve learned so much since I left my first role in management in 2018 and moved towards more senior leadership roles. One of the big things I believe I have learned along the way, through both positive and negative experiences, is the value in building the best team possible and understanding both “what” that means and “how” you get there.
What does a World Class Test Team Look Like?
Obviously, context applies here, but in my experience there are some ways which have helped identify at a high level where we are on our journey as a team to become “World Class”.
A Good Test team could be classed as a cohesive unit which ensures products are released to a high level of quality. They may or may not be embedded within their delivery team, but they are trusted that the testing they do will discover the majority of issues before release. Automation may be in it’s infancy, but what they do have in place provides value.
A Great Test team would be the above and also may help prevent defects being added into the code as well as finding them during any test execution activities. They may also be striving to improve the quality practices within the teams they work closely with. They will have good amounts of automation to compliment their manual testing and are working towards the right balance
A World Class Test team would be all the above. They would also have a positive reputation across the entire organisation for being advocates for quality, thinking about the users and driving the business towards their aim of the best products possible. They would be a diverse and inclusive team who are embedded across the business and not siloed in one area. A constant and trusted part of all product discussions at all levels but not seen as a single sign-off for releases. They have worked with teams to ensure quality is part of everyone’s thinking, but work to continue coaching best practices to improve the confidence and view of quality. Automation is a big part of their testing, but they have a balance to ensure they are automating the right types of tests and compliment this with other forms of investigative testing. Most importantly, the team have a culture of wanting to continuously improve both themselves and the products
It’s obviously not that black and white, but knowing that you can improve the work you do should be seen as a positive to help move the team forward. Of course, the journey never ends, there are always ways to improve.
How Do You Build A World Class Test Team?
As a leader of a team (whether formally or as someone who is pro-active in wanting to drive the team forward), there are some steps you can take to help assess where on the journey you may be.
- How outward looking are the team? – I’ve worked in teams in the past who have been very strong “9-5 Testers”, which there is nothing wrong with, but they tend to think the way they test currently is the only way to do it. By understanding where your team are, you know what you are preparing yourself for.
- Assess the teams capabilities – knowing whether they are involved in looking at what is going on in the wider test community can help you start to understand their capabilities. Look into the types of testing and activities needed to test to the level needed to provide high quality products and find ways to assess where individuals are in their abilities with these activities. If there are gaps, look at ways to upskill the team members either through external courses, or online material and giving them time to learn.
- Break the mould with new hires – You may have a good team of testers already, but are there gaps in their knowledge, are there areas of testing which they lack the skills to perform? These would be good places to start. But for me, the bigger area to focus is on bringing in resources who may evolve the way the team works, ones who may be active in the wider external testing community and hence are able to bring new trends and technologies to the table and encourage learning and sharing within the team. This happened for my team in 2021 and the way we work as a result of these hire has transformed in an incredibly positive way.
- Engage them and show them that Testing can be fun – Try and move away from the “9-5 testing” view where you can, of course testing is an activity which needs doing, but it can be more interesting than just ticking a box to say a test has passed. Encourage the team to think outside the box. One way to do this would be to start doing some internal community events, whether it be an external speaker or even a group testing activity like mob testing or splitting into pairs and exploratory testing your product, working with someone you may or may not have worked with before. Doing these kind of activities will ignite an interest that some of the team haven’t had for a while.
- Empower them to share outside the team – After getting the team engaged more, the next step is to create platforms for them to share the successes they have with the org outside of the test team. This could be via all hands, team meetings or even just sharing brief accounts of successes over email or slack. Raising awareness of the good work being done by the team will give confidence to the team and empower them to do more. This will help to show the value of good testing to teams across the business.
This is not supposed to be seen as a definitive list of actions to make your team world class, but this helped me get to a place where I had full confidence in what my teams could deliver, how they delivered it and what feedback we got as a team from the wider business. Building a positive reputation for testing/Quality has and always will be one of my goals for my teams.
Do I speak sense, or do you completely disagree? I’d love to hear from you!