Challenges in a Product Testing Environment

Management and People Perspectives
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first aspect is related to recruitment of test engineers. This is a big challenge because of perceptions about test engineering that was discussed in 3.1. The other factor is getting people with the required skills and attitude. Domain and product knowledge are very critical for testing products and such skills are not readily available in the industry.

The second aspect is related to test engineers' motivation. The work done by test engineers is often viewed as being monotonous, repetitive and something anyone else can do (but not me!). Team motivation is a challenge for both test team leads and project managers at all times. Typically, for a product, there is the initial excitement and enthusiasm of testing something new. The momentum is there for sometime during the first few cycles of testing. Once the product stabilizes, the testing tends to get repetitive. At this point of time the challenge is to force people in the team to see things differently, calling for creativity and a renewed energy towards testing the product. Diversity in team composition plays a vital role here. Actions that team leads take to check regressive trends can put the team back on track.

Other aspects that are critical for ensuring success include the independence of the test organization, the organization's involvement and integration with the product life cycle activities, and their say in determining readiness of a product for release based on test results. Finally, another critical aspect is related to providing a career for test engineers. This has been discussed as a separate item in the next section.

3.3 Test Engineering as a career
The most widely asked question by a test engineer is, what value addition do I get in being a test engineer? The answers to this question are varied. Most persons with experience, typically 8+ years, in the industry appreciate this better than others since they have seen the whole life cycle of a product. The most common reason cited is that it helps them gain a good insight into a product both technically and from a customer perspective. It helps in building up domain knowledge as well as test environment knowledge.

To someone who is relatively inexperienced, typically 3 years or less, the perception is that little or no value addition is done to one's personal self in being a test engineer. In terms of technology and in terms of the nature of work, test engineering is not viewed as an appropriate career choice.

The real challenge is to appreciate that test engineering is a viable career option in a product engineering set-up. As mentioned before it is a core competence for the organization and one that provides the organization a competitive advantage in the marketplace. This fact is not understood by many organizations making it very difficult for them to recruit and retain good test engineers.

3.4 Recognizing and rewarding Test Engineers
Recognition both to the test engineer and to the importance of test engineering has not been very encouraging in the industry today. Many engineers feel left out at the end of a product release with the spotlight focussed on the other groups. The fact that test engineers do at least an equally critical job as development engineers do is not appreciated. If test engineers are not recognized and rewarded in a timely manner, it will be very difficult to motivate and build good and strong test engineering teams.

3.5 Test Engineering Practices
Having to understand a product for a competitive market in its entirety – both technically and from an end user perspective is a challenging task for a

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