Test Competence

A brilliantly performing software, with exceptional features and effectiveness is essential for the success of an organisation. However, developing a software with all these features and qualities is a complicated task that requires great dedication and hard work of a vast group of talented and expert developers and testers. Moreover, the competency and effectiveness of the software can only be ensured if the testers testing it are confident and well assured of the tasks they are performing.

Defining Test Competence:

The term competence is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the ability to do something successfully and efficiently”. Similarly, in software testing life cycle also, test competency refers to the skills, knowledge, and other importance attributes of the testers, which are needed for developing and testing the software product accurately and efficiently. Test competency is the responsibility of the tester testing the software as well as the organization that employs and assigns that role to the tester.

The role of test competence in the process of testing is extremely crucial as with the assistance of accurate test competence, the team can efficiently evaluate the performance of the software and successfully develop an end product with unique features and optimum quality.

Criteria for Test Competence

In software testing, it is the capabilities and skills of the testers that enable them to detect various discrepancies in the software and allow them to rectify various issues effectively, with the assistance of the developers. Just as the development of a quality software is highly dependent of the testers, similarly, test competence is also based on their skills and performance, which are required for successful development and testing of the software. Therefore, following are two criteria for test competence based on which the competency of a tester is evaluated.

  • Skill Sets of the Tester: Here, the skills required by the organization for the process of testing are defined. It is the responsibility of the testers to validate that they have adequate as well as current competencies for executing tests, which can help them in the long run and allow them to offer various benefits to the organization they are working for. With appropriate skill sets they can effectively conduct the required testing and get expected results.
  • Tester’s Performance Skills: Another important criteria based on which the test competence is evaluated, is the performance skills of the tester. These signify the capabilities of the tester to implement various techniques and methodologies in real-world test scenarios as well as the numerous steps taken to achieve the goals set by the client or the organization.

Reasons for Defining Test Competencies

The importance and relevance of test competence in STLC is immense. With the assistance of this technique, the software development team can achieve various advantages, which can further help them in improving the quality of the software. Therefore, following are some reasons that elaborate the importance of defining test competencies.

  • By defining test competencies, the team leads or managers can ensure that the team demonstrates sufficient expertise. v
  • Helps evaluate team’s performance more accurately and effectively.
  • Efficiently identifies the gaps between skills and competency.
  • Makes the process of change management more efficient.
  • Helps define the skills, knowledge, & other attributes required for software testing.

Components of Test Competence:

The components of test competence can be divided into two categories, each of which signify various levels of test competence. These help solve numerous issues and problems in the process. Hence, the two categories that define the components of test competency are:

  1. Primary: The first category includes the components that are of high priority and need greater attention of the team.
    • Identifying and defining the unpredictability in a complete and complex software system.
    • To test the performance of the software, use a toolbox of triggers that cause a system to behave unpredictably.
  2. Secondary: Though the significance of these components is lesser than the primary once, it is important to consider them as well, while defining the test competency.
    • These assist the team in provoking a system to reach an unpredictable outcome, which further helps them in validating its quality and effectiveness.
    • Exploring a complex software system through test.

Test Problems That Require Test Competence:

During the process of software testing there are numerous problems that require the attention of the testers and an effective test competence. These issues and problems vary in their complexity as well as the way they are tackled. The various test problems that require test competence are:

  1. Complex Problems: The first category of issues that require test competence are the complex problems, which are rectified with constant probing, sense, and responding. Moreover, these enable constraints and are loosely coupled and are performed by a tester with adequate test competence. This is considered an emergent practice for test competence.
  2. Complicated Problems: These second set of problems are tightly coupled and have governed constraints. They require a sensible and proper analysis and response from the team. Considered to be a good practice of test competence, these are conducted by someone with system competence.
  3. Chaotic Problems: Rectified with proper act, sense, & response, these lack any sort of constraint and are decoupled. Additionally, they are performed by someone with adequate skills and knowledge about the software and is considered to be a novel practice.
  4. Obvious Problems: Finally, the obvious problems and issues in the software require test competence. These are highly constraint and have no degree of freedom. These are first identified, categorized and then given a proper response. Conducted by any tester, this is considered to be the best practice of test competence.

Principles to Follow While Defining Test Competence:

While defining competency of testers as well as the testing process, the team or organization should consider the following principles, which can assist them in defining all the necessary details about the capabilities and skills of the testers as well as getting clarity about the whole process. Hence, these principles are:

  • Including the Responsible Testers: To ensure the accuracy as well as effectiveness of test competency, it is vital for the team to involve the concerned individual/tester in the process, as they can help them identify competencies more accurately.
  • Transparency & Communication: The transparency and effective communication between the team of testers and the organization they are working for, further helps in defining the test competence properly.
  • Use of Necessary Competencies: The most important factor to consider while defining the test competence is the use of necessary and relevant competencies. These allow the team to understand the process easily and further helps them in executing the process of testing effectively.


By acknowledging the competency of testing, the software development team and the concerned organization can help define the knowledge, skills, and other necessary attributes required for a particular project and can get individuals that fulfil the role appropriately. Additionally, they can define the set of competencies needed from each individual to perform their job or task effectively.