What is a test architect?

What is a test architect?

Recently, one of the managers at my work, asked me what is a test architect? Speaking with other managers and other companies, they too were curious about the title. Apparently, a test architect is not widely common in the testing industry.

My short answer is that a test architect is a very senior tester whose focus is more on medium to longer-term testing strategies. A test architect’s main responsibility is to provide technical leadership and strategic direction for the testing organization. Some of the duties of a test architect is developing testing infrastructures, developing testing frameworks, and consulting on how to become more effective in testing.

A test architect has deep knowledge of testing techniques, methodologies, and frameworks. A test architect has to be able to create change across testing organizations and various development organizations as well. Test architects are able to drive quality across all disciplines, providing guidance, feedback, and suggestions to improve quality practices across an entire engineering team.

The real goal of a test architect should be long-term improvement of the testing organization. The test architect is the counter-part of a software architect.

Some of you may ask, isn’t a test architect’s role the test manager’s role? I believe there is a difference between the role of a test manager to a test architect. The big difference is the HR responsibility. Management tends to have people management as a core feature of the job, the test architect does not directly manage people. However, the test architect will typically help the test manager in planning and coordination.

Here are my thoughts about the responsibility of a test architect:

  • Counter part to the development architect
  • Provides technical leadership and strategic direction to the testing organization
  • Responsible for test strategy formulation
  • Formulates & develops effective test architectures
  • Pro-actively analyzes current processes and practices and suggest and drive improvements.
  • Has wide-reaching scope across the entire product organization
  • Involved in driving organization-wide quality process initiatives and their implementation to ensure quality of deliverables
  • Collaborates effectively on an on-going basis with all people involved in product development & release activity including development, testing, and technical publications.
  • Responsible for design & development of the test organization’s test automation framework, test harness and any in-house tools required. Tools that do not fully meet requirements of the testing organization, the test architect writes code / develops components that can extend available tools or even design & develop tools as needed.
  • Analyzes competitive products and technologies and makes appropriate suggestions to influence product / technology direction.
  • Pro-actively seeks to make continuous improvements to test coverage, execution and automation.
  • Results oriented and has a high degree of accountability, commitment and responsibility. The expectation is that involving a test architect in a project is a guarantee of obtaining positive outcomes


What makes a good test architect:

  • Knowledge of current industry Quality & Test processes and practices, Tools and techniques.
  • Excellent communication skills horizontally and vertically, is important.
  • Effective negotiation skills are very important too.
  • Extensive Technical skills covering Product, Technologies and Competitive knowledge. Its not sufficient to be a specialist in any one area or technology and requires a wide and fairly deep understanding of a gamut of technologies and tools
  • Excellent working relationship with the Manager.
  • Ability to prioritize is important.
  • Self-management is a key attribute.
  • Software Analysis & Design knowledge/experience is needed while also having a solid background in Software Quality & Testing.
  • The test architect should be self-motivated and a self-starter.
  • Ability to motivate self and others is important.
  • Patience is valuable, especially in dealings with team members.
  • Ability to strategize and look ahead and at the big picture.
  • Project Management abilities is important.
Alden Mallare

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