"Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright"- Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption. This blog is from one such bird who couldn't be caged by organizations who mandate scripted software testing. Pradeep Soundararajan welcomes you to this blog and wishes you a good time here and even otherwise.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Test Leads - Where are they leading you to ?

Hi Reader,

It has been great feedback from you all and some people even asking me to post something on Test Approach , Strategy ....

Well, I would always love to give something what you want more than what I think you want as.
( Learning from Guy Kawasaki's book The Macintosh way )

Here is one such topic which has bothered and has been bothering me for the past few years.

As a Tester, if you had a chance to work under a Test Lead or expecting to be one soon, this post is going to list a few points what a Test Lead needs to know ( apart from what he knows/claims to know)-

I always would give practical examples ( as a tester ) to support whatever I write ... Here it goes for you -

__The Test Lead - Where are they leading you to ? ___

Due to my job as a consultant/contractor I have the rich experience of working with many Test Leads, both good and bad.( What's bad? )

I happened to work for an XYZ company and Mr M was my Test Lead , he had 5 years experience in support but somehow managed to cling to a Test Lead position.

There were 4 people working under him , of course including me.

The company recruited me anticipating a project which could come up for which I possessed the experience to test that product's wouldn't claim I was an expert in testing that product but still to some extend I had a confidence that I could match an expert's testing.

For 3 months of my joining there were no signs of the project kick off and it is the usual management strategy to keep their employees engaged with something when such kind of situation arises and so the new Test Lead ( new - test lead position was new to him too ) called for a meeting to clarify what the 4 working under them were doing. Only I was bold enough to tell him "I did'nt do anything productive to the company".
Of course I still doubt how others were productive when project was not in hand including Mr M.

"Pradeep , this is a time for you to improve your skills" Mr M ( usual gyaan anyone would have given)
"Thanks Mr M , could you let me know where all could I improve?" - I chuckled.
"Ok, I give you an assignment , write 100 test cases for the project we are planning",MrM.
"Mr M , it is not possible unless you let me know what project and some documents related to that" - again.
"I give you one week time, I am checking your skills in this domain" he went way.
One week later "So are you ready with the cases?"
"No !" obviously even you would have replied the same.
"You are junk, fit for nothing , I am going to complain , you are not respecting me , you are arrogant , you dont want to learn , you would hav to face the manager soon" the true colours came out.

There were a series of chain reactions and I and the other 2 in his team quit the job ( without a job in hand and confidence in myself).
1) We quit , not with a fear factor but keeping our career into mind as we spent more time on managing our Test Lead. ( the reverse way )
2) The project approval or kick off ... was yet to take place ( 4 months , mind it ).
3) We thought we had learnt great lessons and we all were pretty sure we would grow up to be Good Test Lead in the future because we know what mistakes are.
4) We also had a belief that someone would have faced the same situation and would understand us and give us a job.

Were we wrong ?

__ End of Test Lead - Where are they leading you to ?___

Points to ponder when you become a Test Lead for the first time or in a new domain -

1) Dont try to impress your manager by stressing on your subordinates , your manager is a single person and your subordinates are many.( In-dia , majority wins )
2) Your subordinates would love you more if you admit your lack of clarity in something and get technical/non-technical help from them.
3) It takes time to get respect and it cannot happen all of a sudden.
4) Just for the sake of getting close to your subordinates dont act , subordinates can easily make out the difference between an act and fact.
5) You should inspire your subordinate by showing him how fast and accurate you learn and not by showing him your powers always.
6) You should act as bridge between your subordinates and the manager/management and not act as a barrier.
7) Dont spy when you know your subordinates are talking ill about you, they would enjoy their success then.
8) Your subordinate knows you too are a man who makes mistake and dont abuse them as a super man when they make mistakes.
9) Admit your small/silly mistakes with your subordinates and instead dont crib infront of your manager.
10) Dont end up loosing your subordinates then you will remain a test lead without no one working under you.
11) Understand your subordinate before you even assign him something. You are paid to even manage a raging bull and sometimes the bull will hit you , dont fire the bull. Success is when the same bull listens to you after you managing/training it.
12) Please mind it - when you go out with your subordinates and especailly when you are New ( Test Lead or new to them ) dont talk ill about anything( even if you want ) everyone has their own sentiments , it could affect your relationship with them.
13) There is a way of saying "NO" , learn it.
14) Speak in English and not your mother tounge even if one of your subordinate does not understand your mother tounge.

" Everyone are Leads by birth , yes it is a fact , I Lead my life , What about you ?"

Till date I have watched Gladiator movie more than a hundred times , can you guess why ?

Maximus , the Hero of the movie orders to release the prisoners and does everything for the people under him even seconds before his death and that is a mark of a true leader, I would love to work under such a gladiator and be a Gladiator in the near future!

Thanks and Regards

Pradeep Soundararajan

Disclaimer : I am aware that there are Good Test Leads too and this post is not to complain against any organization/person in particular.Its just an expression or statements I wanted to make to Mr M/any such because a duty of a good subordinate is to help his leader to come out of his mistakes.As a tester who has gone through such a face I beg the new Test Leads to behave in a way that they gain respect and my fellow testers, learn from others mistakes and not by commiting such.I even know a friend of mine who was working in other company planning to commit suicide unable to bear his Leads torture.Today he is happy ! he isnt in that company.

Update : The mention of the movie 'gladiator' is not to show everyone should be ideal but just atleast close to practical if possible. Its true that I myself havent yet become a Lead so I may be wrong , still I would wish to learn from my mistakes too.


Anonymous said...

Hey Pradeep,

Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

Yes, I intend making my blog (http://quality-assurance-software-testing.blogspot.com) a place whereone can get all information related to Software Testing.

I have read your blog, and I truly find it very nice. Keep it up!

- Techie

Anonymous said...

Your inexperience shows. Whilst leading, ideals shown in cinema are the last thing on leaders mind.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

Ha ! true my inexperience shows it. I am just a 3 year old baby in the testing field , lots to learn , thanks for identifying it.

Anonymous said...

Hi pradeep,
Great that you are sharing your views and your experience in Testing. Pls do keep up the good work.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

Hey Priya,

Thanks ! but which Priya are you ?
Whomsoever ...the word "priya" actually has tested my brain a lot...thats what i called "Tester Tested"

Pradeep Soundararajan

Yogesh said...

Hey pradeep,
Its me Yogesh. I am very disappointed and angry with ur blog. I am sorry but I have to say this as a tester.
Well. U r not from this earth. How can a man earn such an experience from 3 yrs.
Its Simply great.

Hats off.

- Yogesh Y. Degloorkar

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

Hey Yogs,

Am still to experience more and btw am sharing my secret of learning more than others in 3 years of experience.

Secret - Make more mistakes and learn from it.

Keep Visiting dude !



Anonymous said...

Hey Pradeep,

Really ... its very good attitude to share the experience ......
also its hard to say "No" to PL or PM or TL.

Thanks for sharing your preceious experience ...... really its very much helpful to our testing 'Family' or 'group'.


Chaos And Order - "Satheesh" said...

Good posts..!!
Nice blog..!

Keep it up..!

Why don't you write something about development managers too..?


Pradeep Soundararajan said...

Hi Sateesh,

What I have written here is my own experience and unfortunately I havent worked with any Dev managers too close !

Pradeep Soundararajan

Anonymous said...

Hi Iam basically from Support domain , crossed over to testing recently . After reading this blog it will be my conscious attempt not become one of those managers .
Thanks for the post
Manjunath M.S

nagendragp said...

Good one but very few people will have that guts to say no to a TL or PM.
Please dont mind am posting personal problems here..
Am working for a company which does not have a TL for QA team and we are just 2 testers, development is not happening much so we are sort of kept idle and management came to know that we are not doing much work here, so they want me to start up development and some prototyping work but am not interested with those works. I have decided to take up testing as my career and now I dont like people coming and asking me to do some thing else. And I am not a person like you to go ahead and air my views to the management because I know how difficult it is to get a job and I have struggled a lot to get this offer. In this situation now I have only 2 options 1 is to go ahead and quit but then it means that I have to risk myself of getting stranded and financial problems and 1 more option is to accept whatever comes my way.
I would appreciate if you give me your insights towards this..

Pradeep Soundararajan said...


James Bach says, "We testers show the dark corners of the project" and that has helped me to a great extent because clients hire me to do that. If we keep mum on things that we are supposed to speak, we aren't becoming any better.

By saying what you think you should be doing, you are helping your management and your career. Any organization you join in future might ask you to do things that are not testing in your opinion and would you ever fear the job and not do things you want to?

Also, development is certainly going to help you as a tester. If you are passionate about testing, why not you write code, test it as if someone else has written the code, find bugs, fix them and then ask someone to test to see if they can find any bugs.

Also, testing your own code is a big challenge and I think you should be doing it till you get a new job.

Anonymous said...


venkat said...

Thanks Pradeep..This post is really helpful to me at this point especially, since I have got an opportunity @ my client's place to be a Mr.M :)!!