Newbie asked to set up Testing Department!

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    Hi all,

    First time on this site. I’ve landed an internship with a company after completing a Software Tester course. The course included the ISTQB, City & Guilds Software Tester exams and the Database Fundamentals MTA. I have lots of general IT experience and some website testing experience.

    So I have been accepted for a six week internship with a view to a job if I do well. The company provides custom ERP software for a certain industry. I’ve been told that while the company is doing well, the software is very buggy, mainly due to devs testing their own code for the past 8 years.

    I know the official way of testing software – requirements, specification, test plan, test cases, test log, test report etc. I’m not going to have time for all that. I need to keep documentation to a minimum, communicate effectively with devs and test constantly.

    There’s no test environment, very little documentation, plenty of bug tracking tools, very little proper testing done for years and absolutely no test plan. On top of this they’ve just introduced Agile. I know the basics of it but that’s it.

    Any practical ideas about how to go about this in the best possible way? Keep in mind I’m going into this with a job very much in mind. I cannot afford to screw up. This is one of the most important roles I’ve ever had and losing it will not only lose me a job but possibly my family as well. I hope I’m being clear.


    Thanks all!


    Andrei Domuta

    Hi, N

    It seems like a messy situation there.

    I can’t give you an advice on what to do there. I can just share to my latest ‘mission’ where I had to test a web platform and had no test management tool or no test environment. And no time to write proper test cases.

    What I did was to first identify the key business features and critical to the users. I added my ideas as a checklist (in excel) and dived into actual testing. The reasons why I didn’t write any test cases was because I did not have enough time and the web platform was still undergoing some feature changes

    Hope this helps.






    Hi Andrei,

    Thanks for your reply. Your experience does compare to mine in a way and your points are sensible. With no other testers in the company and 90 clients with 90 different sets of business logic, I expect to be busy! I spoke to the CEO today in an interview and he really didn’t seem to think it was even possible to test that many clients with various patches coming out all the time.

    The company has expanded far too fast for its own good and it now a victim of its own success. They have a new software delivery manager who welcomes the idea of having a tester, but he admits that the company has barely any documentation for the software, and according to him there’s not enough documentation to test by.

    In a way this is an ideal situation to create my own test department and it’s ideal experience for the real testing world. I’ll be a tester, test lead and test manager combined, which will look very good on my CV.

    In another way I’m terrified. I have to show progress in creating test plans, find a way of measuring my productivity, set up a test environment, test the software, report on the testing  and to cap it all I have no tester mentor and no documentation!

    I’m willing to do it but it really scares me. I really have very little software testing experience to be setting up my own testing department. It’s like getting your private pilot’s licence and then being asked to fly a jet fighter into combat the next day.

    Andrei Domuta


    The titles ‘tester’, ‘test lead’ and ‘test manager’ look very good on your CV. And indeed, there is a tendency in our industry to use the word ‘testing’.

    However, we don’t just test the software but do other stuff like:

    • read and understand specifications
    • reflect on what the users need
    • reflect on the impact the fixes have on the software
    • liaise the communication between devs and business
    • report the defects so it adds value to the business

    I prefer to call this Software Quality Assurance.

    And the people dedicated to it, Quality Assurance Engineers.






    For device/platform fragmentation look into what Chrome developer tools and simulators like can help you.

    For your own planning and visualization to others, consider drawing a large mind map of all your activities and progress on the same.

    Ideas on things to test can perhaps be found in the Rapid Software Testing heuristics & abbreviations.


    Hi N,

    Take a step back and break it all down into small chunks. You will never complete the task by attacking it as a whole.

    You can kind of follow the agile methodology by putting your smaller tasks into a sprint. Follow your progress as a one man band keep a diary of when you think your tasks should be completed by.

    Is there any similarities with the customers if so start there and work outwards. Dont worry about failing worry about doing the small tasks well.

    If you need a hand with anything let me know.



    Ronan Healy

    Hi @theonedoctor,

    I wonder how have you got on in the role. Your internship must be over now? Did you achieve everything you hoped to in your time there?

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