The Role of a Test Architect

So I have been given the go ahead to hire a Test Architect pushing that we need some quality focused minds to help drive practice and test automation. Looking on the web, this role seems to vary quite drastically from company to company.

I found a good description online which i modified to match to what i think fits the role here:

• Supporting the Test Manager in achieving their strategic goals for the Test Team by providing technical support to the Manager and the team
• Possess broad awareness of testing approaches, practices and techniques in order to help design and deliver the overall testing methodology used by the team
• Have the ability to monitor the effectiveness of the testing function and bring about improvements through insights gained via analysis at all stages of the SDLC/STLC
• Identify what tools and technologies can be implemented, aligning with that already used across the broader development function and in-line with the skill-set of the team
• Design and develop the test automation frameworks, harnesses and code libraries to enable the team to both use and enhance them across successive projects, working closely with the Automation Lead.
• Work closely with Release Engineering to ensure Test Environments are set up in the correct way for the right testing
• Provide technical know-how, documentation and training to test and other business functions
• Stay up to speed on process, practice and technology developments to ensure they are brought in-house and enhance the solutions applied to the testing problems

What are others experience of what this role entails?

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Cool task, a lot of things going on in that description. So lets break it down a little bit.
Do you want to have a “Project Manager” that goes and makes sure that work is done on time and that the status of testing is reported to all relevant stakeholders like the Test Manager etc.? Basically the executive branch of the Test Manager.
Do you want to have a Senior tester that knows the ins and out of testing that can educate other testers that on how to become better testers?
Do you want to have a Software Developer that can develop a Software framework used for automated testing?
Do you want to have a Systems Operator that can work with test environments and streamline the deploy process?
Do you want to have a Test ambassador that can convince the rest of the organisation why you need to test and what they can do to help?
Because right now all of the above is covered to some degree which probably is to some degree what you want. I would however suggest that you prioritize them more to say this is Core and this is Extra.
Apart from helping the Test Manager with doing some of these things, two things that I find useful to have in a Test Architect is the education / coaching both of individual testers and teams / organization on how do good testing in an efficient manner. And the test analytics part which is what is currently the weakest link the process and what are some good ways to strengthen it. Like can you use better oracles, increase coverage in earlier stages. Test In Production as an alternative to long regression cycles. Etc. so that the Test Manager can make sure the correct improvements are employed in the organization. So I would prioritize those parts of your description.

Good luck!

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My suggestion is to add legal awareness. Things like accessibility and privacy are enforced by different laws.

This has a direct impact on testing:

  • which test data is used?
  • why is data collected? If so, what is the legal premise?
  • can a disabled user use your product or service?
  • Etc.
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Hello @sjprior!

When I read your list, the scope of the role felt too narrow. I read where they work with the team (Testing team or Product team?), the Automation Lead, and Release Engineering but felt the role larger than that.

I would expect a Test Architect to lead and advocate for testing practices throughout the product life cycle. In that sense, not only would they guide the Testing team but they would advise on test strategies for the product in all phases of the product development.

For example, they should provide direction or help testers provide direction for unit tests, review and advise on tests executed in the pipeline, consult with the product team on what to test and who is responsible for those tests.

Joe

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Yes you are right, the scope is much wider and they would advocate for quality best practices across the org.

I have changed my internal spec to reflect that

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Great write up and captures what i would say is needed. Do you want someone who will represent the test team or someone who works “behind the scenes” as it were?

I want someone who is more hands on to help drive the strategy and assist me in being a voice of quality and testing across the org. Ensuring that for every project, testing and quality is considered and involved early, ensuring the right focus on the right kind of testing. Helping assist in getting focus on Usability, Testability, Accessibility, Security etc all at a sprint level

It won’t be an easy task…:slight_smile:

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It’s a great role and the criteria isn’t that wide ranging. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that majority of testers, perform such roles, regardless of their job title. They take pride in their work, represent the test team via their work etc… Good luck :+1:

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Roles at the Architect level as I’ve experienced them organizationally have existed as SMEs owning the design of the deliverables of their area of expertise such that a Test Architect would design and own all test applications, frameworks and methodologies. Frequently not members of individual teams but instead reporting at the department head level and available as resources to all teams in that technical realm.

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Thanks Fletcher, yes this is what I’m aiming for the role to be…

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Hey Simon - that’s what I’m doing currently, just not with the job title, happy to have a conversation in more detail if that would help?

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@sjprior,

Metrics and KPIs are important parts of Test Architect’s job.
Especially when multiple organisations/teams are involved,
the architect needs to keep track of the metrics to see which
ones are going well, and which ones need attention.

Although one might argue this is the Project Manager’s job,
the Test Architect need to keep a tab on what’s going on from
both technical as well as operational stand-point. Can work
along with Project Manager on monitoring.

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I’d work into the spec that they’ll need to work closely with Tech/Dev Ops and the Dev Architect too. I’d argue that metrics and KPIs lie more with the Test Manager (with assistance from the Test Arch in defining them) - the Test Arch should input into this but should not be responsible. In my mind the Test Arch is more about defining process, tooling and hardware/software/build requirements to facilitate testing than measuring its success - that’s part of a combined function with the Test and Product Managers.

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Here’s what I thought a test architect was 12 years ago. I think in a lot of ways, a test architect is close to what I call a test coach now.

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Thanks Alan, yes you may be right there, “Architect” seems a word which is landing better than “Coach” at the mo, but can definitely see the similarities. But for me it’s about the needs of the role rather than the title really…

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Sometimes, the inputs that the Test Architect is seeking
from the Test Manager or the Product Manager in terms
of data won’t be forthcoming, and hence the Test Architect
has to put additional effort in drilling down on what’s going
on. This has happened to me. Agree that Test Architect
is not ‘responsible’ for the measurement, but they need to
keep tabs on what’s going on. Always better to be watchful
than be sorry!