A Detailed Look at the Idiosyncrasies of Test Tool Training

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Summary:

In this article the author delineates some of the training issues confronting organizations that purchase automated test tools. The article delves into the copious decisions that a test manager has to make in order to get their testers properly trained on the use of the purchased automated test tools. Numerous insights are provided to help companies cope with the complexities associated with training testing resources.

There are numerous events that might give rise to new training requirements. Some of those events could be:

  1. The hiring of a new tester with no experience with the existing test tools.
  2. The vendor upgrades the test tools or releases a new tool to replace an existing test tool.
  3. The organization purchases a new test tool-end users conducting user's acceptance test need some familiarity with the test tool for logging defects or executing test scripts.
  4. Test tools have been heavily customized for a particular organization.

Unrealistic Expectations
Some test managers want to maximize their ROI after spending their training dollars on test tool training. They may have an erroneous expectation that the recently trained testers are accomplished and prolific with the test tool because they had two to three days of training. The fact that a student spends a few days recording and playing back scripts during a lab session does not by itself guarantee that they have sufficient knowledge to record any or all of the project's business processes or requirements.

Test managers should attempt to pair the recently trained students with a mentor or test tool expert in order for the students to gain some automation experience with the project's application. Many times the students only learn a limited percentage of the test tool's capabilities and features during a two- to three-day training class. This means that they will have difficulty in adapting to how the project specifically wants to record its business processes in the absence of a skilled mentor who has several years of experience with the automation test tools. In general, recently trained testers need exposure to a test tool mentor for six months.

The Training Instructor
Who provides training for the project and the students is a question that the test manager needs to consider carefully. Some companies hire independent contractors to provide training for a commercial test tool. The test manager should inquire for references about the instructor, how long the instructor has worked at the company providing the training, and if the instructor holds current certification on the test tool in question.

Also, some companies hire instructors to perform the actual training, then to do mentoring after the training is completed. It might be wise to assess how much "hands-on" experience the instructor has with the test tools, since teaching out of training slides for pre-determined lab exercises is substantially different from developing automated test scripts for actual business processes and requirements. Again, it would be most appropriate to evaluate the instructor's credentials before agreeing to bring the instructor on board. Be sure to get assurances from the training company that they will send a new instructor if the initial instructor is unsuccessful in providing adequate training.

Other places you may find good instructors could be among your own project team members. It is possible that the project has local test tool experts who are capable of training and mentoring other testers with customized training material or the vendor's own generic training material.

Identify Who Gets the Training
The test managers should decide who obtains test tool training. Not everyone in the test team will need to record and automate test scripts, but perhaps everyone in the testing team and the QA team will need to know how to work the test management tool for reporting defects or mapping test cases to requirements. You may also want to train end users.

The test manager should prioritize the training classes based on the available training dollars. Testers who will be "hands-on"-or core automators-should receive the highest priority for training on the recording test

About the author

Jose Fajardo's picture Jose Fajardo

Jose Fajardo (PMP, M.S., and SAP certified) has worked as a test manager for various companies utilizing automated testing tools. He has written and published numerous articles on testing SAP and authored the book titled Testing SAP R/3: A Manager's Step by Step Guide. Throughout his career Jose has helped to create testing standards and test plans, mentor junior programmers, audit testing results, implement automated testing strategies, and managed test teams. Jose can be contacted at josefajardo@hotmail.com.

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