The Best Software Tester in the World?

Attention to detailIf you ask ten testers to each test something, you will typically see a varied amount of defects detected. This will still be the case if all of the testers had exactly the same experience and testing knowledge. This is quite often down to how focused the tester is when looking at something (attention to detail). While at first glance something may look good, but on closer inspection, defects can be seen. Attention to detail is what makes a great tester stand out from a good tester.DiplomacyDuring the day-to-day tasks a software tester has, there will invariably come a time when the tester needs to converse with others, more often than not with software developers. When speaking to a developer about a bug they found, the tester must always bear in mind, that they are essentially finding fault in that developer’s work. Diplomacy skills are a key asset to any software tester as they are paramount in building and maintaining a healthy working relationship with the development team. A poor relationship between software testers and developers can negatively impact any software development and place unnecessary risk on the project.


Quick LearnerSoftware testers that work for outsourced QA companies will often find themselves switching between a huge variety of projects, which today may include web, mobile, smart products and wearable tech. Being able to ramp-up on a product saves precious time during a development life-cycle. Sometimes software will need to be tested that has no documentation. Therefore, the software tester needs to be able to explore the software and quickly extract the information they need. This key information may be used to create a test plan, a set of test cases or QA estimate.PassionateIt is easy to spot software testers that are passionate about the software they are testing. They typically find more defects and they show enthusiasm during meetings for not only the product they are testing, but also for software testing in general. Clients are much more likely to re-hire software testers that are enthusiastic about their product. On the flip side, software testers that show no enthusiasm quickly stand-out and it invariably shows in the quality of their QA work.Business OrientedA great software tester can see the product as whole and take on the mind-set of the intended audience. This skill is extremely useful in reporting issues that may otherwise be found by the end users after the product’s release. Another aspect of business orientation is the ability to understand why a certain functionality is being introduced, and applying this knowledge to their testing. This information can enhance the testing being performed and provide a richer set of results. A tester should also be able to appreciate that deadlines need to be met(and as is often the case) may result in a reduced amount of time for QA. Being flexible and understanding of the business impact of the deadline of a release is extremely important to the relationship of the test team with the rest of the product stakeholders.


ConclusionThere is no specific criteria as to what makes the best software in the world, as each company, or project may have a different requirement or goal as to what they want the software tester to achieve. Our QA team’s experience of testing a wide variety of software products for clients all over the globe has given us great insight as to what kind of testers we needed to make those projects a success.

How To Analyze Your Team’s Expectations And Outcomes

In general, the purpose behind analyzing whether team expectations are being met is to promote, enhance or improve something within the team itself to help overcome or prevent specific problems, weaknesses or hindrances.

When analyzing expectations, it becomes important to focus on three types of project-related outcomes: team knowledge, team processes, and the deliverable. Team knowledge includes understanding team terminology, concepts, and relationships among team actions and results.

Team processes are the steps utilized to create a desired deliverable or end product and include: professional attitudes, self-awareness to know when project steps are executed, and self-control during transitions between project-related steps. The deliverable or end product is what is created as a result of team project activity-such as a plan, method, system, document, or process to meet specified needs.

When it comes to predicting, defining and interpreting a team’s results, outcomes and expectations, there are specific skills that should be applied, which tend to cut across all team-related roles. There are four basic questions individual members need to ask themselves before determining if team expectations are being met:

  1. Am I learning what I need to know?
  2. Am I applying what I have learned?
  3. Am I a good role model and expert?
  4. Am I able to teach others to know and apply important team functions, best practices and group dynamic applications?

There are a multitude of reasons why teams may wish to evaluate their performance, including:

  1. Identify accomplishments.
  2. Evaluate if leadership is shared and effective.
  3. Identify team strengths.
  4. Identify points of team weakness.
  5. Analyze team strengths and weaknesses
  6. Identify group dissatisfaction.
  7. Identify low morale.
  8. Identify confusion of team purpose.
  9. Identify drop in participation.
  10. Avoid team stagnation and demise.

Predicting, defining and interpreting a team’s results, outcomes and expectations and their combined effectiveness can be accomplished through a number of assessment and evaluation resources, including:

  • A complete index or listing of definitions that detail outcomes, which multiple audiences can refer to such as organizational employees, upper management, and/or sponsors
  • The drafting of performance criteria for examining team-related outcomes
  • The application of performance review tools for providing timely feedback and for planning developmental actions intended to improve team performance
  • Providing oral presentations and reports to organizational employees, upper management, and/or sponsors

There are very specific success factors that a team must analyze to determine if it is able to obtain, or is obtaining the results it wants:

The Team’s Ability to Organize

Analyze the team to see if it is:

  • Establishing a system to communicate standards of excellence
  • Delegating tasks and responsibilities
  • Aligning people and resources to present information where all audiences can understand key points and issues

The Team’s Ability to Prioritize

Make sure the team is:

  • Researching information
  • Focusing on issues that are most critical to the success of the project
  • Taking into account the feasibility and the relationship to the goal, blocking time to evaluate
  • Categorizing issues and reprioritizing if necessary
  • Identifying the steps to be taken
  • Identifying the necessary issues to be addressed and placing them into an appropriate order

The Team’s Ability to Analyze

Ensure the team is diagnosing and clarifying issues/data by:

  • Gathering the most relevant information
  • Recognizing broader implications of issues/data
  • Drawing logical inferences
  • Examining interrelationships between all alternatives
  • Making decisions that have the greatest positive impact on team outcomes and its deliverable

The Team’s Ability to Manage Time

Check if the team is using time effectively for tasks that are to be completed, including:

  • Establishing priorities
  • Preparing project timelines
  • Monitoring and managing resources
  • Allocating time for the team to work
  • Reviewing updates
  • Thinking about its next action steps

The Team’s Ability to Question

Is the team effectively using questions, which consists of:

  • Formulating open-ended questions that increase awareness of situations
  • Requesting clear, concise information that achieves desired results
  • Providing opportunities to analyze data that results in finding root causes
  • Creating a nonjudgmental, open and creative environment

The Team’s Ability to Facilitate

Make sure the team works collaboratively to help define its overall goals and specific objectives by:

  • Utilizing effective group dynamic skills (questioning, clarifying, paraphrasing, summarizing, consensus)
  • Applying problem solving skills (assess needs, set expectations)
  • Identifying skills and a timeline
  • Analyzing data to help team members create plans that assist them to accomplish and meet desired results and time frames

The Team’s Ability to Present

Check if team members prepare clear, concise, well-organized deliveries of information by utilizing effective oral communication skills such as:

  • Speaking clearly
  • Varying voice volume, pitch and pace
  • Displaying high levels of energy and enthusiasm
  • Applying effective eye contact and body language
  • Engaging the team audience
  • Emphasizing key points

The Team’s Ability to Verbally Communicate

Analyze by incorporating the above skills, to see if the team is able to clearly and accurately explain and articulate its:

  • Mission/vision
  • Ideas
  • Procedures
  • Policies

The Team’s Ability to Make Sound Decisions

Is the team:

  • Using the scientific method to recognize and define a problem
  • Facilitating effective ways to access and collect relevant information
  • Reviewing and evaluating alternative solutions or actions
  • Selecting the best choices and following through with the implementation of decisions

The Team’s Ability to Problem Solve

Ensure the team is creating effective and appropriate solutions by:

  • Employing analysis skills to synthesize and apply relevant information/data
  • Breaking down and clarifying the problem
  • Defining the desired outcome(s)
  • Investigating options and alternatives
  • Selecting the solution that will have the greatest positive impact in the present and for the future

The Team’s Ability to Generate a More Functional Environment

Check if the team is:

  • Selecting and developing members based on individual and group skills
  • Identifying and leveraging personality types to complement their strengths
  • Managing conflict
  • Creating team roles and expectations resulting in group capacity to facilitate win-win situations within the team setting

The Team’s Ability to Implement and Measure

Is the team executing and overseeing its action plan through:

  • The preparation and alignment of expectations and resources
  • The assessing of results against outcomes
  • Removing barriers
  • Identifying strategies for continuous progress
  • Communicating results to stakeholders

The Team’s Ability to Manage Conflict

Ensure that team members use effective techniques and practices to respond to conflict through:

  • Skill and sensitivity that results in presenting one’s position in adverse circumstances
  • Seeking to understand those with whom one disagrees to win acceptance
  • Shaping opinions
  • Earning respect
  • Identifying areas of common concern

The Team’s Ability to Research

Check if the team is:

  • Effectively accessing information from various sources
  • Analyzing and testing effective solutions that result in better performances, which are based on scientific study, case studies and best practices
  • Developing a network of experts both inside as well as outside of the organization
  • Reviewing necessary and applicable journals, books and trends
  • Utilizing experiential data and best practices
  • Conducting external and internal informational scans

The Team’s Ability to Strategically Plan

Make sure the team is developing strategies to achieve higher levels of performance and project outcomes by:

  • Prioritizing critical goals
  • Identifying and prioritizing success factors
  • Translating broad strategies into clear objectives
  • Allocating resources
  • Anticipating risks
  • Identifying constraints
  • Understanding issues that impact team performance

The Team’s Ability to Make Continuous Improvements

Check if the team is continually making improvements in processes and areas of performance by:

  • Scanning the team environment continually to determine what can be done better
  • Creating a team environment where risk taking is accepted and rewarded
  • Establishing a process where information and lessons learned can be shared
  • Tracking the progress of key steps and milestones within the project and innovative ideas that can be readily shared

The Team’s Ability to Provide Positive, Constructive Feedback

Ensure the team is providing and using positive and constructive feedback to:

  • Instill a sense of confidence in others
  • Model behaviors for replication
  • Help others attain higher levels of performance
  • Set up action plans for improvement
  • Aid in initiating a team environment of trust and accomplishment

The Team’s Ability to Collaborate

Is the team seeking the involvement of others by including them in:

  • All decision making processes
  • Establishing and building the team’s shared vision and goals
  • Identifying ways to foster good give-and-take relationships, discouraging “us vs. them” thinking
  • Building a team environment where the contributions of all members are valued

The Team’s Ability to Plan

Ensure the team is developing plans and processes by:

  • Translating strategy into specific goals and objectives to support the team’s vision
  • Identifying team capacities
  • Establishing clear, realistic timelines
  • Identifying specific action steps and accountabilities
  • Identifying, testing and confirming assumptions in the team’s strategic plans

The Team’s Ability to Manage the Project

Make sure the team is effectively monitoring its ongoing progress by:

  • Tracking progress through clearly set goals and timelines
  • Developing specific objectives, milestones, and outcome guidelines
  • Identifying resources and budget
  • Establishing specific responsibilities for collecting and/or tracking
  • Presenting critical variables related to the project
  • Effectively communicating evaluation standards, timelines, expectations, and individual follow-up procedures
  • Scheduling meetings for follow-up and review

The Team’s Ability to Delegate

Check if the team trusts others to take responsibility that is meaningful, important and interesting by:

  • Providing necessary individuals with sufficient authority and resources to accomplish assignments
  • Treating team and work failures as learning opportunities
  • Personally evaluating themselves on the willingness and ability to delegate
  • Identifying barriers that may likely hinder the ability to successfully complete the delegated task or project
  • Creating comfort levels for others

Excerpt: Developing & Planning for Team Results: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)

How To Build A Team: How Leadership Training Helps

Companies have been talking about teams for decades. But what does that really mean? Does it change anything to take an existing work group and call it a team? Are teams really different from groups? If so, what makes them different? Are teams really different? Better? More productive? Most leadership training includes material on teams. Few, however, really describe clearly what a team is or how to go about creating one. Many of the principles taught in leadership training such as the importance of clear expectations, clarity of purpose, collaboration, mutual trust building, relationship building and so forth are important for all kinds of groups and organizations, not just teams. Teamwork becomes important when the task demands that the members need one another to succeed. Interdependence is the key factor that separates teams from other kinds of groups. If the organization has tasks that naturally lend themselves to this kind of interdependence, then teams may be the right way to go. If you have to artificially create “interdependence” then the team members may feel manipulated. “Why are they putting us into teams? Wouldn’t this get done easier and better by assigning it to an individual and giving them a little staff support? What are they up to?”

Before You Create Teams

There are many questions that need to be answered before you decide to set up teams in your organization. Depending on the reasons for your leadership training, many of those questions might be addressed early during the training sessions. Assuming that there is a task that calls for the kind of interdependence we have mentioned here or the work itself requires it, the additional questions that should be answered include:

  • What is the team’s purpose/vision? If there is a clear organizational need for the team, the team member themselves might help to answer this question.
  • What are the team’s primary functions? Identify problems? Generate solutions? Solve problems? Make recommendations? Make decisions? Implement solutions? Or, will the team simply go about the day-to-day task of getting the work done.
  • Who should be on the team? If the team is structured around an interdependent task, it should be clear who the members should be. My first organizational mentor told me when I asked about team membership, “If he or she can mess it up, they should be on the team.”
  • What are the rules of membership? How is it decided who joins the team or who leaves the team?
  • How much authority does the team have? What is the source of that authority? How will it be determined if the team should continue on or disband? How much power does the team have?
  • What type of team are you? Self-directed work team? Project team? Cross-functional team? Advisory group?
  • What kind of leadership do you have? Want? Authoritarian” Bureaucratic? Parrticipative? Consultative? Leaderless? Self-led?

This is just a sampling of the questions that should be addressed. Few companies are so thorough. More commonly, managers put people into teams, conduct a little team training, some leadership training, then stand back and wait for them to produce. Little wonder that many employees become discouraged. Under the right conditions, teams can produce far more that aggregates of individuals but it is not an easy thing to accomplish. Even if the company takes considerable care in designing the tasks so that there is a lot of interdependence and spends an adequate amount of time during their team training and leadership training answering those important questions, there is still much to do. The team members need to learn how to work together in a team. While this may seem obvious, the skills needed to be successful in a team are often quite different that those skills that they have been relying on to do their jobs.

After You Create Teams

There are hundreds (probably thousands) of guidelines for building a team. It is a very complex process but all of the guides contain certain universals. At the risk of oversimplifying, here are what I believe to be the absolutely essential components for building an effective team.

  • Purpose. There should be a compelling business reason for creating a team. The managers who are responsible for the function should have a clear understanding of how a team will help them meet their production, quality, customer service goals, etc. The team members should also understand their reason for being. Organizations where managers create teams to accomplish corporate goals but tell their employees that the team is really for some other purpose (having more fun, developing the team members, creating more work/life balance, etc.) will ultimately be found out. Most people are perfectly O.K. with being asked to help meet business objectives if they see it as an honest request and they are given the resources to do what needs to be done and are acknowledged for their efforts. It is often highly valuable to also create a joint vision of what the team should eventually become. The more that the managers and team members participate jointly in such a process, the greater clarity there is for everyone.
  • Structure. Make sure that everyone understands how the team (or teams) is organized. It is important that the team leader knows his or her role and how to perform it. Don’t skimp on leadership training for the immediate team leader. Make sure everyone on the team is clear about how much time, effort, and resources should be applied to the team’s business. Get clear agreements on when and how the team meetings will be conducted. The most effective teams spend a considerable amount of time on this. They establish standard agendas, ground rules, problem solving techniques, methods for communicating with management, how the process will be facilitated, etc. Make sure that everyone knows who belongs on the team.
  • Skills. For many teams, this may be the hardest part. As individual contributors, it may not be so important the every employee is an excellent communicator but as a member of a team that changes. Effective teams need to build trust so that they are confident that they can rely on one another. Listening, giving and receiving feedback, resolving conflict, and problem solving become highly important. Team members must learn to be more attuned to the more subtle aspects of relationship development, what we often refer to as “soft skills.” Many of these skills can be addressed in good leadership training during team start up but must also be reinforced and facilitated on an ongoing basis. Teams will find that they need to have conversations about topics that were previously discussed only with managers or with human resources specialists. It takes some time for team members to achieve a level of comfort with these skills so patience is advised.
  • Resources. Nothing will kill a team faster than giving them a task to perform but withholding the resources needed to complete it. Make sure that the teams have access to the appropriate expertise (engineering, scientific, computer, etc.), ability to acquire needed materials, sufficient personnel, and time to spend on the team’s tasks.
  • Measurement. Finally, the team and the team’s sponsors need clear mechanisms to tell them if they are making progress. These measurements should be jointly created by the management and by the teams. They should be simple, clear, and the connection between the team’s actions and the measurement should be undeniable. Few things are more motivating that knowing that you are part of something successful. The enthusiasm generated is often contagious. Few things are more de-motivating than being told you are not making enough progress but not understanding why that is so. The resulting discouragement is also contagious.
  • Organizations can benefit greatly from the creation of teams, but only if approached with the same sense of diligence and clarity that other business objectives are pursued. Over the years, many organizations have made a hash of their team process by giving it inferior status in the hierarchy of corporate objectives. It takes work to make a team effective. Not just hard work on the part of the team members but also by the managers whose organizations stand to benefit. Leadership training should include a major emphasis on the role of the managers in the team process.

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