In the current age, acquiring new technical skills are emphasised more and more. Although, it is key for career development, on a hindsight tester’s behavioural/soft skills are given lesser priority. Eventually, behavioural trait tends to last through individual career compared to short-lived ever-changing technical skills. Any test manager would aspire to have the dream test team from day one, which is very unlikely for many practical reasons. Said that there are opportunities that the test manager can adopt to make any team into a dream team.

Bees are my favourites due to their surviving instinct & discipline. In analogues to bees’ qualities within their colony, sharing my experience and suggestion to build a good quality test team. These skills are very much essential for a diversely skilled test team (i.e., if you’re managing a team which has both functional and non-functional team or different skilled test team)

Call out: Following suggestions are not only limited to test manager, test lead or tester but very much applicable to other workstreams as well. Examples considered are more testing team focus. Feel free apply the context with your workstream.    

Bee a Hive – One Team

A bee colony in peak season can house even up to 50,000 bees that work cohesively within a small confined space. In return, bees win are maximised to achieve the common goal of survival. Bees will put their life in line to defend the colony and such scarifies is possible ONLY because of their sense of belonging within the hive. 

In the tech world, fortunately, there is no need for such sacrifice. Instead, it is important for each member to be part of a team – ONE TEAM. Having a team with such a spirit makes you a winner already. The test manager should give more importance to coach ‘One Team’ ethos and monitor its health. 

Why does it make the difference?

Once an individual has the belonging to a team, team goals are prioritised over the individual. 

Few suggestions, which favoured me

  1. Instigating the belief that ‘When a team win everyone wins’ to the funny contrary to ‘Operation success but the patient died’. Supporting nature will become involuntary when realisation kick-in to help each other for all to win
  2. Inculcate the common or customer ways of working within the team as it gives clarity for everyone. Quick Tip: Remember, that each members’ ways of working could have been different from their previous experience 
  3. Organising team building activity can show the great result of inclusiveness within the team

Team Character Profile 

  • Test Manager: Must have
  • Test Lead: Must have
  • Tester: Must have

Bee Positive – Positive Spirit 

During winter, a bee colony can dwell from 50,000 bees to 20,000 that is beyond 50% loss. Still, a healthy colony stays strong and phoenix back during spring. Bees’ resistance to negative influence keeps them moving forward for their survival. 

Software development is a very complex activity with many moving parts performed by different people. Chances are very high to bump into frequent hurdles and harm the team spirit by temporary failures. Having a positive team or a member is a gold mine for a test manager. Even a few positive souls can be infectious to a team in a very good way and inspire many to follow.   

Why does it make a difference?

Positive messaging provides hope to team and assurance to stakeholder. In addition, being positive will help a long way beyond work 

Few suggestions, which favoured me

  1. Start with few key influencers within the team (esp. test lead or sr. tester) and lead them with examples while noticing any negative messaging

Just to help you understand the positive message impact. Let us perform a quick experiment. 

Imagine yourself in either of these roles (tester, developer, project manager) attending a daily stand up meeting and hearing following a voice from a tester. Which of the below voice would make you feel positive?

Voice 1: I am blocked, Cannot proceed with testing due to the data dependency. Dev team is responsible for the data. This will delay the test timelines 

Voice 2: Shall work with the dev team and need their help to resolve the data dependency. Shall assess the impact and come back, if any

Both the voice conveys the same message but voice 2 makes anyone feel positive. Try this within your team and share your experience in the comment. 

  1. During daily stand-up, pick a person and ask their positive experience that happened in the last 24 hrs and do not restrict this with work. You will be amazed to hear teams experience. Keep this rotational within the team by not stressing an individual. Come on! This should not create a nightmare for an individual 😉
  2. Assign the team to share positive quotes/story as a mailer to the team – this can be rotational activity between team members to ensure each gets an opportunity

Team Character Profile 

  • Test Manager: Must have
  • Test Lead: Must have
  • Tester: Good to have

Bee Explorer 

Honeybees are known to travel up to 13.5 km in search of nectar. While this is very instinct nature within the bee’s community, the same resides down for humans to post their learning life.

By Explorer – I mean the hunger for learning. Technology is changing at a faster rate than many skills has a shorter lifetime. A tester should always look out for the latest industry trend put in use within their project. Skill development is a lifelong activity and does not have an end state. The test manager should a play key role to encourage this quality within the team 

Why does it make the difference?

Few explorers can bring in the ‘Out-of-box’ thinking within a team. There could be many benefit potential such as process improvement, better testing techniques, right area of coverage, faster ways of testing etc. 

Few suggestions, which favoured me

  1. The test manager should push & guide the right member to explore

Sharing one of my best experience:

During SIT & UAT test activity, there was an opportunity to automate the input data from the various system. Automation tester did a fabulous job of using trail version UFT tool to meet the objectives. As a test manager, wanted to provide this as value to the business postproduction. However, the current implementation was not feasible due to the incurring cost of the tool. Initially, tester resisted any viable option. However, after some pushback & guidance, a bespoke option was developed which not only meet the business requirement but also was much efficient than the previous solution.  

  1. Have a monthly/bi-weekly learning session where a team member can present a topic across the team – This can be planned on a rotational basis

Team Character Profile 

  • Test Manager: Identify and Guide the team
  • Test Lead: Good to have
  • Tester: Few in the team 

Bee Proactive & Solver

If the bees’ environment becomes undesirable, they are efficient in identifying the issue and finds a better setting to relocate. Such adaptability has made them survive for more than ~40 million years on earth. Fact tip: human are known to be from ~2 – 6 million years

Being proactive is an essential quality for Test manager, Test lead. Sensing a risk and creating a controlling measure saves the project than responding after it happens. Problem solvers are another hot skill that goes in tandem from the problem identifying skills. The solving capability tends to evolve through experience. However, by careful awareness and observation within the project, this is not a difficult skill to acquire.

Quick Evaluation Tips

Following metrics can help to self-evaluate by analysing the test related RAID log 

  • Which is higher? Number of risk vs issues raised by the test team

Note: Risks are the challenges within the project before it happens. Issue are the challenges within the project after it happens. 

    • If your ISSUE count is more than RISK. Then, you must perform more homework to identify risk
    • If your RISK count is more than ISSUE. Then, you have started well. However, hold on! The sheer raising of risk is not sufficient.  Let us move to the next metric 
  • How many risks have got converted into issue vs risk mitigated without impact

This metric helps to evaluate the quality of handling the identified risk.  

    • If the ratio of risk conversion to an issue is more. Then, concentrate more on risk mitigation skills 
    • If the ratio of risk mitigated without impact is more. Then, Congratulations! You are doing a fabulous job and keep up the good work. 

At the same time, do not give a hard time for you if the risks are beyond your control line. Give the best shot to work with other workstreams to resolve and if you still could not close due to external factors, then do not worry.

You deserve to be proud of your efforts and log it with leadership as a lesson learnt for a wider project team. 

Why does it make the difference?

Remember, Good test manager not only highlights the challenges but resolves the same as well 

Few suggestions, which favoured me

  1. Firstly, schedule a knowledge session around RAID management. Highlight the need and its importance to the team. Guide them through the RAID template. Please do not assume that everyone within the team knows. The answer is NO. There is a high possibility that template & approach followed in their previous experience could be very different from your expectation. This will, in fact, make the problem worse between your expectation and team assumption on RAID
  2. Having a weekly RAID log update is good practice. At the same time, empower the team to update the same in Adhoc basis. Quick Tip: It is of NO use to raise risk, issue and keeping silent. A person who raises the risk should make the action owner aware of the same  

Team Character Profile 

  • Test Manager: Must have
  • Test Lead: Must have
  • Tester: Good to have

BONUS TIP

The test manager should make the best effort to identify & recognise those individuals who go beyond his/her call of duty. The sense of appreciation will encourage others within the team to inculcate as well.  As a leader, you might need to set an example by helping the team wherever possible. 

Hope you found this article useful. All the very best. 

Do comment your thoughts and feedback about this post.


Author of this amazing post

Sugandh has 10+years of rich cross-sector & cross-regional experience in software testing. Currently, he is working in the UK for the last 5+ years and specialize in Test management with retail domain expertise.

Blessed with varied experience in delivering small to large scale transformational program covering both legacies to the next-generation cloud solution. He has managed a multi-skilled team in both functional and non-functional testing across the different delivery model.

Sugandhraj Balasubramanian