I've recently been asked to help devise a mentoring plan for a new QA associate. I sat down and thought about it, and thought it would make a half decent blog post, so here goes!
In order to come up with a plan, I needed to identify key areas of QA that as a new QA I would appreciate. I came up with the below areas that I feel would benefit most new QA members:
Selenium IDE moving onto Selenium WebDriver perhaps
Obviously these will be domain specific, so if you're using QTP for automation, then obviously try mentoring in that etc... In fact this can be applied to much of the below.
- C#/Programming Language
- Writing Manual Test Cases
- Exploratory Testing
- Writing Bug Reports
- Testing Tools
Test Case Management/Defect Management (Be it Microsoft Test Manager, Quality Center etc)
-Cross Site Scripting/Security Testing
-Breaking down a PBI
- Release testing
- Involved in a release sprint
- Regression testing
- Sprint Planning/Retrospective
It's also important to ask the new QA what they want to do, do they want to become a specialist in Test Automation, in which case it would be very Automation orientated, or if they were interested in management, then the plan might look slightly different to the above.
So that's enough of what I feel would be useful to go through, however, actually going through the above would be time consuming without a thought out plan.
Ideally the mentee would cover as much as possible within their day to day work, so they would work on a sprint as there is no substitute for applying theory to actual work when it comes to learning, they would decompose PBIs, they would get involved with regression and release testing, do some automation with another QA/Developer, write their own bug reports... The important thing is that there is regular contact with their mentor over the work they are doing, they can bounce any ideas off the mentor, and the mentor might even benefit from some fresh ideas from the mentee.
Eventually the mentor will hopefully become like a buddy for that person, and the regular meetings can be scrapped and irregular catch-ups can be done ad hoc, and the mentee will pass on their knowledge and become the mentor in the future, but knowing that if they come across any issues their buddy/mentor will be available to them.
I think the success of a mentoring program comes from the mentee being willing to learn and the mentor being experienced, open and care about the mentee's progress.
I'm yet to really see a successful mentoring program, as I believe it requires a lot of dedication and it isn't going to happen overnight, when a mentoring program is first put in place, it's not going to be perfect from the off, it will need tweaking, but hopefully it will bring benefits to the company at some point in the not too distant future. So long as the person has a point of contact for anything they may need, then I would regard that as a positive outcome for the mentee and the entire QA team.