Senior test roles

Here are my expectations of people in senior test roles.  In many cases people in senior test role seem to spend a lot of time with administrative tasks.  I think that is a mistake.  Let me know what you think. (Note: These are my opinions and may not represent those of my employer.)

Test Lead role


  • The test lead must have an understanding of the philosophical basis for testing, e.g., – what is quality, when are we done, etc.
  • The lead must have a good understanding of testing.
  • He must regularly transfer this knowledge to the test team.
  • For organizations involved in software product development, the lead must provide technical leadership to the test team (read Research).  The lead must play a role which is characteristic of a R&D/software lab.
  • The test lead must keep abreast of the current thinking in testing.
  • Leads should have decent computer science knowledge.  They should understand processes such as continuous integration, unit testing, TDD.  They should have good skills in scripting.
  • She must know the state of testing in IBM. She must be aware of various tools used for testing/process management in IBM. (This will be different for other organizations)

There are at least three areas which have strong potential for technical leadership – security testing, performance, test automation. It is likely that the test lead will excel in one of these in the long term. He can choose another area if he wishes.

 Test lead duties

80% time

  • Is ultimately responsible (along with the test manager) for the quality of the testing
  • must review testing done by the test team. In an agile context if there are multiple teams the test lead is responsible for the testing of all features. This may require him to attend multiple scrum meetings every day.
  • must mentor test engineers until they can work independently.

Remaining time (20%)

  • Liase with other groups – development leads, release manager, ID
  • Review customer issues to improve testing
  • Release management along with release manager

 Test Architect

The test architect role may be shared between projects. The architect is also not responsible for specific project deliverables. The expectations include everything stated above as well as the following:

  •  Must have led multiple release cycles for IBM or related products (enterprise security) (This will depend on the organization)
  • Must have a strong understanding of various security related technologies, e.g., CISSP equivalent
  • Must understand technologies such as web servers, application servers, J2EE
  • Must have strong understanding of scripting/programming/computer architecture
  • Must have rigorously studied customer issues for a few years on the products that he has worked on and released.
  • Must have demonstrated understanding of requirements gathering and testing of requirements
  • Must have detailed knowledge of testing
  • Must have significant understanding of quality

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