A great variety of expertise is required for a tester to be able to function well in the discipline of testing. A tester needs to have knowledge of:
- The domain (e.g. logistical processes or financial reports)
- The infrastructure (test environment, development platform, test tools)
- Testing itself.
The management is responsible for ensuring that the right person with the right expertise has the right job, preferably in collaboration with personnel and training experts. A carefully controlled inflow and internal mobility policy supported by related training for test personnel are required. However, the negative image of testing makes suitable and experienced test personnel scarce.
The challenge for HRM lies in this combination of the negative image on the one hand and the importance of testing on the other, who can we find to execute this task and, more particularly, how can we keep them happy? An important tool to achieve such satisfaction is to offer the tester a career path.
What are a tester's characteristics, in other words, what properties must a person have to be an ideal tester? In the first place, the ideal tester does not exist. It varies per situation. We can, however, list a number of generic properties:
Communication, spoken and written
The tester maintains contacts with many different parties. For instance, he talks to e.g. the programmer, the information analyst, the project leader and other testers. It is important for a tester to be able to understand the interests of his discussion partners and communicate effectively. Written communication is important to record defects and write reports.
Accurate and analytical
A tester must focus on detail. It is important to establish for every requirement or wish what is actually being asked. In case of doubt, questions must be asked. It is important for the tester to go about his job analytically and refrain from making assumptions. A test basis is at the basis of his test, if this is not complete or contains defects, it is registered as a defect. A tester must never ever make assumptions in this respect, even though they may be self-evident.
Convincing and persevering
A tester communicates the detected defects to the party that caused them. This is where the extent to which the tester is convincing plays a part because the receiving party must consider the reported defects as actual defects. The tester must have power of conviction and persevere in affirming the importance of the quality of the product.
Objective and positively critical
When a defect is communicated or questions are asked about a requirement, it is important to do so objectively. Comments like "bad software", "again an incorrect requirement" or "irritating colours" should not be used. In discussions about defects, it is important that the tester makes the problem clear to the other parties in a constructive, positive way. This means a certain level of diplomacy and refraining from pointing fingers at various parties.
The tester must simulate reality to make a statement about the quality of the software. Test cases are created, test data compiled, and a test environment defined for this purpose. This requires creativity.
The tester is at a crossroads between professions. The point of gravity of the tester's activities lies at the end of a process, when the pressure is highest. The tester must be aware of the tensions and interests and handle them correctly, so that the required objectives can be realised.
The possible positions of a test professional are described below. They are based on the model of the career cube as described above. The positions are classified as follows:
The possible tasks and required knowledge and skills are explained per position.
There are also roles that do not constitute positions in themselves. Think about e.g. Defects administrator, Domain knowledge expert, Test infrastructure coordinator or Test team leader. In practice other roles also arise. Roles may also be combined.
Information about the tasks and the knowledge and skills these and other roles require. Read more