Friday, April 12, 2013

Agile and The Role of Test Engineers - Part 2

In my previous post I shared my thoughts on the role of test engineers in agile projects. How can test engineers - who have no experience in agile methods, start working in agile teams? What makes them successful? What enables this transition? Is it easy or hard? These are the questions many of us have in mind.

Two Key Factors
How easy or difficult it is to enable test engineers play this role in agile projects depends on their potential and drive. Factors such as knowledge, skills, competency, etc. determine the potential of test engineers whereas factors such as motivation, enthusiasm, courage, commitment, focus etc. determine the drive in them to accomplish something. With potential and drive as two primary dimensions we get to understand four categories of test engineers. In fact, this classification can be extended to any profession that involves knowledge workers.

High Drive - High Potential
Engineers in this quadrant are ‘Passionate Achievers’. In our context, they are passionate on software testing. They learn and share. They experiment and explore. They are equally motivated about manual testing and test automation. They write excellent manual test cases. Also, they gain expertise in test automation. With experience, they become subject matter experts and consultants.

High Drive – Low Potential
This quadrant is known for ‘Position Takers’. With varying degree of potential from medium to low, they take their position according to market trends. They learn just-enough to catch up with the buzz. They are not driven by their passion to learn new tools, scripting languages and testing techniques. They go behind opportunities. Often, their ideas are not original. Most testers in this category are salaried workers or contractors. The do what is barely sufficient to retain their jobs.

Low Drive – High Potential
Low drive and high potential team members are ‘Passive Followers’. They are laidback and unenthusiastic. Meanwhile, they do not stagnate but continue to remain laggards. They learn new things when there is a big push. Many of them are manual testers however they are not self-led to learn test automation. In most cases they have the capability to self-learn. However, they need a clear road map and support for learning new things. Also, they expect returns before they learn and experiment.

Low Drive – Low Potential
Test engineers in this quadrant are ‘Petrified Checkers’. They may have good experience in manual test execution. However, most of them do checking rather than testing. They are petrified or scared to learn new tools, scripting languages and techniques. Most of them chose testing as their career because they wanted to avoid coding. They do not learn new things in spite of adequate support and push. They are good workers who can contribute to sustaining end-of-life applications and products. They are complacent in their current competency and role.

Testers in the first quadrant (High-High) fit in very well whereas testers in the second and third (High-Low or Low-High) need some counseling, training and support to transition. Testers in the last quadrant (Low-Low) find it very difficult or challenging. They seldom make themselves a good fit in agile teams.

What do you think?

No comments: