Requirements and Test Scope Management Skills
One of the key skills of the tester is to perform requirement verification checks. Some of the checks include singularity, ambiguity, generalization, solidity, comprehensiveness, style, extensibility, maintainability, reliability, integrity, robustness, scalability and testability. Terms and definitions differ between various companies and automated requirements verification tools. Testers need to be familiar with the terminologies to perform relevant requirement verification checks during the static testing phase or for test design inputs.
For test requirements, one of the key Six-Sigma concepts – SMART – can be used for any testing task or requirement. A SMART requirement is a good requirement. A test designer should have certain skills to define a test requirement in a SMART manner. Test requirements need to be very Specific about a particular task or an activity, results or output should be Measurable, and Attainable with Relevancy and a Time-bound response.
Additionally, a good test designer will be familiar with leading test design techniques such as Equivalence partitioning, Logical Combination, Taguchi Method, Orthogonal Array, State Transition Model, Karnaugh Maps(K-Map), Risk-Based Testing, Exploratory, Fail-First to convert the requirements to a solid set of requirements, resulting in high quality test coverage with an optimum number of test cases.
This will result in a high-quality product at optimal cost. Testing stops and it never finishes. as the number of tests, it is possible to execute is large. Hence, a tester must understand the client’s accepted level of risk under different client circumstances will drive different testing behaviours, and this is where having industry experience for similar clients can lead to behaviours resulting in higher value for the client.
Smarter test scope management can be achieved by using industry- leading standard test requirements and test management tools. Key requirements can be understood implicitly by testers by keeping constantly aware of industry trends and having the ability to incorporate new testing methods (innovative and intelligent testing). Building such a proactive team of testers will help build a very high performing test team.
- To become a generalist, it would be good for a communications industry aligned tester to be familiar with eTOM (enhanced telecoms operations map) and key standards for the type of operator (e.g. 3G/4G for a wireless, PSTN/xDSL for a fixed line, OTT, DOCSIS standard for a cable MSO, etc). For Pharma – Focus on GxP Methodologies, How Research & Development, Manufacturing or Commercial Operations work etc.
- To become a specialist, it would be good for a tester to focus on a particular type of testing and have in-depth knowledge of and capability in the key tools needed to perform testing. For example, to become a good performance tester, it is good for testers to have expertise in some/ all of the concepts.
- Requirements gathering and analysis of non-functional performance measures
- Performance modelling, and design and architecture
- Workload, performance architecture and capacity models
- Virtualization and extrapolation using performance technologies, such as low-latency tools, in-memory, solid-state devices, network tuning, data analytics, and caching using big-data
- Performance test execution and statistics capture
- Performance tuning measures, such as code and hardware
- Performance testing using tools and automation
- Skills to use probes/tools to measure and optimize performance
It is common to see deeply skilled specialists in one particular area or tool. Hence specialisation is a good thing to have if a tester chooses the path of the depth of expertise.
Options for Testing Testing Career Path
Test Career Trajectory
Testing generalist track
Tester → test module lead (design/execution) → test lead → work stream test manager → project test manager → program test manager →portfolio test director → testing practice lead
Test design/process specialist track
Tester → test design/process lead → test architect lead → work stream test manager → project test manager → program test manager →portfolio test director → testing practice lead
Test data/support generalization track
Test data team member → test data module lead → test lead → test support manager → project test support manager → project test manager → program test manager → portfolio test director → testing practice lead
Performance test specialization track
Performance test specialist → performance work modeling lead → performance test lead → performance test manager → performance test expert → program non-functional/performance test manager → portfolio test director → testing practice lead
Sample Functional Specialization: Telecoms billing specialization track
Telecoms mediation tester → telecoms bill run module lead → billing test module lead → billing test lead → billing testing work stream lead/ manager → program billing test manager → billing test portfolio director → testing practice lead
Next Generation Testing Industry – Skills Needed
Taking an example of the telecommunications industry (communications) has grown phenomenally over the past 20 years. The number of innovations and advancements made by the communications industry is second to none and is one of the engines for growth in the economy, the IT industry, and testing in general. With such phenomenal growth, numerous challenges come onboard.
From a testing skills standpoint, the challenges posed by this growth include the need to keep the various types of testing requirements for different communications industry projects and roll-outs. The telecommunications industry is vast and there are different functional domains. Testers tend to be specialists in one or more of these areas, but will seldom master everything because the technologies, frameworks, and standards are numerous.
Testing Career Progression Graph
Testing as a career has a lot of options from a growth perspective. Some choices for a tester to progress along the test management path as a generalist area seen in the figure above.
In order to progress along a testing career track as a specialist, a tester can develop his career as a specialist in one of the following:
▪ Test data subject matter expert (SME), test architect, test metrics SME, test environment discovery, test environment delivery, defect management, war-room/problem manager, incident manager, test automation, test support tools, test requirements, report management, performance testing, security or penetration testing, Web/ usability testing, compatibility and accessibility testing, operational acceptance testing (OAT).
A tester can complete training and become a certified specialist in testing from standards organisations such as BCS, QAI, ISTQB, IIST, ASQ, ISEB, CSTM, CMST, PTCRB, and GCF. There is specialisation certification for tools such as HP Performance Centre, Selenium, Tricentis Tosca, Worksoft Certify, Panaya, SOAP, SilkTest, Rational Quality Manager – Performance Tester, and Rational Robot, to name but a few.
A tester should have a probing mindset and should be capable of discovering the features of a product, process, or service and understand what the customers want (from the requirements), how the product should work ( requirements and design), design the tests using various design techniques, select tests with a fail-first mentality with the aim of identifying defects in order to fix them, run the tests (using tools or manually), observe the test outcome, and validate the results against the expected behavior.
Testing as a career has become a mainstay and is the pinnacle of success for large-scale product development or program delivery. Testing is a key contributor to the development of the IT industry and the phenomenal growth in technology which has taken place over the past three decades. Testing as a horizontal (across the SDLC life-cycle) or a vertical (industry-specific) is a hotbed of innovation, creativity, and productivity improvement in terms of processes (with processes such as TMMi), products (automation tools, intelligent testing tools, productivity tools), and people (thought leaders and innovators).
Testers have the opportunity to become generalist test experts with good industry knowledge of the testing life cycle, or a highly skilled expert or specialist in a particular test type, test phase, test activity, tool, or industry, or an expert in test delivery and management before taking charge of a test centre or test practice.
Especially in communications industry related testing:
- There will be growth in some markets and maturity in others. Both will drive rapid technical and business changes, with the business and operating model proving to be very dynamic.
- In the next 5 to 10 years, the outlook is for continued change as the market for data further drives mobile towards being a commodity market and seamless, always on the move with the Internet of Things becoming a de-facto lifestyle.
- In content delivery, the changes in platform/delivery method mean increasingly interactive and mobile applications will continue to stretch testing methods both for media providers and telecoms companies.
It will be a nice challenge for the testing experts and testing services firms to keep up with the phenomenal growth in the industry and the variations and permutations for service options, commercial models, career growth, innovation, and transformation in various industries. Testing as a tipping point has been and will be a major contributor to the success of the IT industry.
If there is one area where skills can be an evergreen option with continuous opportunities for learning and growth, it is testing. For one to be successful in the next generation of testing, it is important to keep learning and keep innovating. A career in testing comes with infinite options – akin to a famous quote by James Bach, which states:
“Testing is potentially an infinite process”.
To read the first part, click here.