Organizing the Test Team


The people component includes human resource allocations and the required skill sets. The test team should comprise the highest-caliber personnel possible. They are usually extremely busy because their talents put them in great demand, and it therefore becomes vital to build the best case possible for using these individuals for test purposes.

A test team leader and test team need to have the right skills and experience, and be motivated to work on the project. Ideally, they should be professional quality assurance specialists but can represent the executive sponsor, users, technical operations, database administration, computer center, independent parties, etc. The latter is particularly useful during final system and acceptance testing. In any event, they should not represent the development team, for they may not be as unbiased as an outside party. This is not to say that developers shouldn’t test. For they should unit and function test their code extensively before handing it over to the test team.

There are two areas of responsibility in testing:

1. Testing the application, which is the responsibility of the test team
2. The overall testing processes, which is handled by the test manager.

The test manager directs one or more testers, is the interface between quality assurance and the development organization, and manages the overall testing effort. Responsibilities include:

• Setting up the test objectives
• Defining test resources
• Creating test procedures
• Developing and maintaining the test plan
• Designing test cases
• Designing and executing automated testing tool scripts
• Test case development
• Providing test status
• Writing reports
• Defining the roles of the team members
• Managing the test resources
• Defining standards and procedures
• Ensuring quality of the test process
• Training the team members
• Maintaining test statistics and metrics

The test team must be a set of team players and have the following responsibilities:

• Execute test cases according to the plan
• Evaluate the test results
• Report errors
• Design and execute automated testing tool scripts
• Recommend application improvements
• Record defects

The main function of a team member is to test the application and report defects to the development team by documenting them in a defect tracking system. Once the development team corrects the defects, the test team reexecutes the tests which discovered the original defects.

It should be pointed out that the roles of the test manager and team members are not mutually exclusive. Some of the team leader’s responsibilities are shared with the team member and visa versa.

The basis for allocating dedicated testing resources is the scope of the functionality and the development time frame, e.g., a medium development project will require more testing resources than a small one. If project A of medium complexity requires a testing team of 5, project B with twice the scope would require 10 testers (given the same resources).

Another rule of thumb is that the testing costs approach 25% of the total budget. Since the total project cost is known, the testing effort can be calculated and translated to tester headcount.

The best estimate is a combination of the project scope, test team skill levels, and project history. A good measure of required testing resources for a particular project is the histories of multiple projects, i.e., testing resource levels and performance compared to similar projects.

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