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Articles

Rex Black was asked recently be a client to write a brief article regarding why to become a Software Tester. The target audience was high school students. RBCS is committed to "spreading the word" about testing and we all  enjoy the opportunity to encourage future testers.

Talking to high school students about testing requires that we communicate on their level and in a way that might intrigue them. As any parent or educator knows, this is not always an easy task. Read on to see how Rex Black man gages just that.

I bet this week you used more software than you even know. Did you use a smart phone? Did you ride in a car? Did you play a video game? Did you send an e-mail on your tablet or PC? Did you fly on an airplane? Did you go SCUBA diving? Did you go from one floor to another in an elevator while at the mall? Every one of these activities involves using software. In fact, most of the software used in those activities are more complex and sophisticated than the software used in the Apollo moon mission, and often even more so than the software used by the Space Shuttle.

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An ISTQB certification is a nice thing to have. It decorates your office. It tells your co-workers that you have pursued education and have achieved a level of knowledge in testing. At the Advanced level, it shows that you have selected an area of specialization and have demonstrated your knowledge. At the Expert level, it provides evidence that you have set yourself apart from others-that you have acquired and demonstrated expertise in a particular area. But, are you really using your knowledge and expertise? Let’s look at how the benefits of the certification can be used in your regular job and your career.

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If you’re a professional tester, test manager, quality assurance staff member, or programmer responsible for testing your own code, you have already discovered that, far from being trivial and straightforward, testing is hard. There’s a lot to know. Unfortunately, most practitioners tend to carry out testing as if it were 1978, not 2008. Common practices lag best practices by around 30 years. ISTQB certification is about raising common practices to the level of best practices. 

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We asked some clients, associates, and colleagues what some of their top New Year’s resolutions were. While we can’t share them all, you won’t be surprised to find one of the top “to dos” for 2008 is to find practical ways to improve testing. So, if you’re like most testers, you are time constrained and need to make improvements quickly that show fast results. Here I present three practical ideas which you can put into action in just two weeks, which will make a noticeable difference to get your testing year started off right. 

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Being a Good Tester

By Rex Black

  • One development manager once called testers “depraved minds..usefully employed”
  • So, are we devils or angels?
  • Alternative viewpoints on testers
    • We find bugs and tactfully point them out.
    • We provide essential insight to manage quality risks
    • We advocate the customer’s experience of quality
    • Rex Black Consulting Services motto: “We help our clients make better software and hardware by breaking it for them.”
    • James Bach: “We light the way….The testing process focuses light where it’s needed to help developers and management know where they are, where they ought to go, and when they have arrived.”

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Agile Software Development

By Gerry Coleman, edited by Rex Black

As the demand for new technological products grows apace, many companies have adopted Agile methodologies for their software development activity.

The demands on a tester working on projects using Agile methodologies are different to those faced on a traditional software project. Testers on Agile projects, in addition to excellent testing skills, must be able to communicate effectively, interact and collaborate constantly with colleagues, liaise closely with business representatives and work as part of a whole-team responding to early and frequent customer feedback.

To work as part of an Agile software team, testers must first understand the principles and values underpinning the Agile development approach. This section looks at the essential components of Agile software development, explains the advantages of the whole-team approach used in Agile projects and demonstrates the benefits of receiving early and frequent customer feedback.

An excerpt from Agile Testing edited by Rex Black due to be published by BCS Learning & Development in Spring 2017 (subject to change). Section 1.1 by Gerry Coleman. All material is provisional and may be subject to change.

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Project Retrospective

By Rex Black

An excerpt from The Expert Test Manager: Guide to the ISTQB Expert Level Certification book by Rex Black, Jim Rommens and Leo Van Der Aalst due to be published by Rocky Nook. All material is provisional and may be subject to change
 
As a colleague told me once, a good motto for software teams is: "Make interesting new mistakes." His explanation was, since you are human, you'll make mistakes. But you should make interesting ones, ones you can learn from, and you should only make a mistake once.  How do you ensure that you make only interesting new mistakes? By learning from each mistake that you make. How to you learn from each mistake? In this short article, you'll read about a proven technique for learning from mistakes, retrospectives. Useful in both Agile and traditional lifecycles, this simple technique can make you and your colleagues a process improvement machine!
 

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Seven Steps to Reducing Software Security Risks

By Rex Black, President, RBCS, Inc.

If you are a software tester, programmer, or manager, you probably know that developing secure software is no longer simply desirable—it’s completely essential.  

Some might assume that most security problems arise from the operating system or networking layers, well below the application code they are working on.  However, figures for Web-based applications show that over three-quarters of security exploits arose from applications. 

So, you know you need secure code, but how to get there? What are your security risks?  What security failures and bugs do you have?  What do these security risks, failures, and bugs mean?  How can you reduce security risk in a way that doesn’t create new problems?  How do you monitor my progress over time?  This article will outline seven steps that will allow you to answer these and other questions as you improve your software’s security.

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Webinars

Developing a Test Team

Recorded October 1, 2015

Leading a Test Team

Recorded March 26, 2015

Interviewing Testers

Recorded January 2, 2015

Testers of 2015 and Beyond

Recorded March 13, 2014

Why Testing as a Career

Recorded November 5, 2013

ISTQB in a Nutshell

Recorded July 23, 2013

Hiring Great Testers

Recorded November 10, 2010

Test Organization Options

Recorded July 1, 2010

RBCS Videos: Career Day

Recorded November 9, 2009

The ISTQB Advanced Syllabus

Recorded August 6, 2009

Ten Worst Things for Testing

Recorded June 9, 2009

Podcast Episodes

Ten Worst Things for Testing 12/14/2009


Length: 1h 29m 44s

Lots of people give top 10 lists, but only the very brave will give a bottom 10 list! Let's face it though: Smart people sometimes do dumb things. Smart testers and test managers are no exception. In this talk, Rex Black will discuss things he's done and things he's seen other smart test professionals do that, upon close reflection, turn out to be big mistakes. That way, you can go back to work the next day and not do them.

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Software Testing: Test Organization Options 9/6/2010


Length: 1h 26m 14s

How should we staff and organize our test teams? This is a great challenge for many test managers, and indeed the organizations that have test teams. Should we have specialized or generalized test teams? What role (if any) do people outside the testing team play in testing? Should we have an in-house testing center of excellence or testing services organization, and, if so, what should that team do? When and how should we use outsource testing service providers? How do lifecycle options like the V-model, iterative, agile, and spiral affect the answers to these questions? These are hard questions that many RBCS clients struggle with. Join this webinar to review and discuss the options available, in an interactive forum, with Rex Black. Attendees are encouraged to send questions and topics to cover to Rex prior to the webinar.

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Software Testing: Hiring Great Testers 2/1/2011


Length: 1h 36m 19s

As the worldwide economy recovers, many test managers are facing a happy challenge: How do I hire really great testers? Given that a great employee can be ten times as effective as a poor employee, hiring the right people is a critical question for us as managers. In this webinar, Rex will help you find answers to this question. We’ll examine what attributes you should look for in great testers. We’ll talk about skills testers need, and how to measure and grow those skills. We’ll talk about how to interview testers to make smart hiring decisions. Join this webinar, illustrated with examples throughout, to learn ways to hire and grow a great test team.

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The ISTQB certification program has effected enormous change in the software testing profession in the last dozen years. With over 175,000 certificates issued, with a three-level program from Foundation to Advanced to Expert, with a international presence spanning 50 countries, and with an open, democratic model for governance and participation, the ISTQB has truly set the standard for tester professional. Join this webinar to review and discuss the program, in an interactive forum, with Rex Black.

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The International Software Testing Qualification Board has already effected profound change in the software testing profession, and the rate of that change continues to accelerate. Not only have 150,000 people have achieved Foundation certification, but increasing numbers of testers are taking Advanced exams, including the extremely challenging Advanced Technical Test Analyst exam. In this webinar, Rex will explain why it’s so tough—and why technically-oriented testers who have achieved Foundation certification should step up to the challenge.

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How can independent test teams guide an organization to success? What organizational options exist for such teams? How does independent testing fit into the software lifecycle? How can we measure success for such team? In this presentation, drawn from three decades of industry experience, Rex will help you find answers to these questions, and to establish—or improve—your independent testing team. Join in the discussion after the initial presentation, and ask Rex about the challenges you face with test estimation.

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Some testing teams see themselves as quality cops or process cops, there to enforce entry criteria, methodology standards, work product delivery dates, and other policies on developers, business analysts, sales and marketing staff, and other project team members. While this can be valuable and appropriate in some organizations, most of the time it is not a winning position for test teams. What we see with our clients is that test teams who deliver the most value are those that focus on being a trusted partner to their stakeholders, helping them deliver the highest quality software and systems on time and within budget. In this webinar, illustrated with case studies of successful and unsuccessful test teams, Rex will explain how you can transform your test team into a trusted partner.

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ISTQB New Advanced Syllabi 01/09/13


Length: 1h 35m 10s

The International Software Testing Qualification Board (ISTQB) has already effected profound change in the software testing field, with over 250,000 people having attained Foundation certification. But a Foundation certification is just that: only a Foundation. The ISTQB Advanced program is achieving great success, with tens of thousands of people getting one or more of the Advanced certifications. Now the ISTQB has made that program even better, releasing a new version, more streamlined, more market-friendly version of the Advanced syllabus in October 2012. In this webinar, Rex Black, co-author of the new Advanced syllabus, will explain what’s new and what’s great about the ISTQB Advanced syllabus, and how it can guide you, your testing colleagues, and your organization toward better testing, reduced risk, and higher quality.

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Webinar: ISTQB in a Nutshell: 7/23/13


Length: 1h 1m 49s

The ISTQB tester certification program has had a tremendous positive impact on the software testing world, with over 300,000 certifications issued around the world. Perhaps you’re considering getting an ISTQB certification, but have questions. What’s going on with the ISTQB? How does it operate? Where to the exams come from? How does the ISTQB certification fit into a tester’s career path? What’s the international profile of the ISTQB program? As an active volunteer in the ISTQB program and former President of the ISTQB and ASTQB, Rex can answer your questions. Join Rex for an overview of what you might want to know about the ISTQB before committing your time and energy to the certification, and for an opportunity to ask questions.

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Webinar: Why Testing as a Career: 11/5/2013


Length: 1h 32m 12s

Can you make a career out of software testing? Yes, you can. Software testing provides some of the most interesting and difficult challenges available in the software engineering profession. It is a growing field, and much remains to be learned about how best to test software, and to manage the testing of software. As a software testing profession, you have the opportunity to be a pioneer. In this free webinar for current and future testers, Rex will explain why you should pick software testing as a profession and answer your questions.

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Webinar: Testers of 2015 and Beyond: 3/13/14


Length: 1h 34m 41s

The software testing profession is evolving rapidly. The following trends are playing out, and having a significant impact on our work:Virtualization and cloud computing Agile methodologies An explosion in the test configuration space Huge volumes of production data Proliferation open-source testing toolsAn uncertain economic situation You need to keep current with your skills and awareness of these trends, or get left behind! This webinar will give you some ideas on how to position yourself for success in 2015 and beyond.

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Webinar: Interviewing Testers: 5/30/14


Length: 1h 38m 24s

Did you know that dealing with a single problem employee can consume as much as 50% of his or her manager’s time? Imagine how that reduces the manager’s effectiveness! This is why making smart hiring decisions is one of the most important and central roles for test leads and test managers. However, it’s also one of the hardest roles we face. In this webinar, Rex Black, having hired dozens of testers and coached managers around the world on how to improve their hiring practices, will share some of the techniques you can use to ensure that your next hiring decision is the best one you’ve made—so far.

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Webinar: In Praise of Specialization: 8/27/14


Length: 1h 32m 19s

The hot trend these days is to talk about cross-functional, self-organizing teams, and to disparage specialization. For example, Ken Schwaber wrote, “You don’t have to be a tester to test, or a designer to design.” But is that really true? Would you accept the following statements? If you’re a baseball player, you don’t have to be a pitcher to pitch, or a catcher to catch. If you’re a musician, you don’t have to be a violinist to play violin, or a pianist to play piano. If those statements make you uncomfortable, you’re not alone. In this webinar, Rex will explain why specialization matters. He will explain the science and psychology behind specialization. He will offer three specific case studies where a lack of specialized skills contributed to dramatic failures, and three case studies where the presence of skills averted similar failures. You’ll go away with some food for thought, and perhaps a determination to reorganize the way you manage your teams.

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Webinar: Interviewing Testers: 1/2/15


Length: 1h 26m 38s

This is an encore presentation of one of our most popular webinars. If you missed it the first time, you can catch it now. Did you know that dealing with a single problem employee can consume as much as 50% of his or her manager’s time? Imagine how that reduces the manager’s effectiveness! This is why making smart hiring decisions is one of the most important and central roles for test leads and test managers. However, it’s also one of the hardest roles we face. In this webinar, Rex Black, having hired dozens of testers and coached managers around the world on how to improve their hiring practices, will share some of the techniques you can use to ensure that your next hiring decision is the best one you’ve made—so far.

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Webinar: Leading a Test Team: 3/26/15


Length: 1h 21m 40s

In many ways, leading a test team is like leading any other team. After all, people are people, no matter what work they do or where they live. Of course, there are some aspects that are specific to managing technical teams. And there are a few aspects that are specific to managing a test team. Given a good team, which you’ve developed carefully, how can you get the best work from them and keep them engaged and motivated? Rex will explore some ideas, and take your questions, in this free webinar.

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One Key Idea: Pairwise Testing Using ACTS 2/16/17


Length: 0h 38m 45s

If you’ve been testing for any length of time, you know that the number of possible test cases is enormous if you try to test all possible combinations of inputs, configuration values, types of data, and so forth. It’s like the mythical monster, the many-headed Hydra, which would sprout two or more new heads for each head that was cut off. Two simple approaches to dealing with combinatorial explosions such as this are equivalence partitioning and boundary value analysis, but those techniques don’t check for interactions between factors. A reasonable, manageable way to test combinations is called pairwise testing, but to do it you’ll need a tool.  In this inaugural One Key Idea session, Rex will demonstrate the use of a free tool, ACTS, built by the US NIST and available for download worldwide. We can’t promise to turn you into Hercules, but you will definitely walk away able to slay the combinatorial Hydra.

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Training

ISTQB Foundation Level Extension Agile Tester

This course provides testers and test managers with an understanding of the fundamentals of testing on agile projects. This hands-on course covers the major agile testing techniques via a virtual classroom and assigned exercises. This course was accredited by the ASTQB July 2014. The course follows the ISTQB Foundation Level Extension Agile Tester Syllabus 2014.

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ISTQB Foundation Level Training

This course provides test engineers and test managers with the essential ideas, processes, tools and skills they need in order to set themselves on a path for true testing professionalism. This hands-on course covers the major test design techniques with lecture and exercises. Re-accredited by ASTQB June 2010.

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ISTQB Advanced Test Manager Training

This course provides test managers with advanced skills in test estimation, test planning, test monitoring, and test control. Attendees will learn how to define the overall testing goals and strategy for the systems being tested. They will gain hands-on experience in planning, scheduling, and tracking these tasks. Accredited by ASTQB December 2012.

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ISTQB Advanced Test Analyst Training

This course provides test engineers with advanced skills in test analysis, design, and execution. This hands-on course provides test engineers with the ability to define and carry out the tasks required to put the test strategy into action. Accredited by ASTQB December 2012.

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ISTQB Advanced Technical Test Analyst Training

The third of the ISTQB Advanced level courses to be created RBCS, Inc., this hands-on course provides technical test analysts with the ability to define and carry out the tasks required to fulfill the test strategy in terms of technical requirements. Accredited by ASTQB January 2013.

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Managing the Testing Process

This course will give attendees the tools they need to succeed as test managers from ways to measure and manage the skills testers need, to hiring, motivating and educating testers. The course also covers all the essential tools, techniques and critical processes that will help you manage and develop high-quality test systems that improve over time.

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Requirements Engineering Foundation

This course is based off both the IIBA®(International Institute of Business Analysts) and IREB (International Requirements Engineering Board) bodies of knowledge. This course is an excellent preparation course for the IIBA®, IREB and the IQBBA (International Qualification Board for Business Analysis) certifications. In three days we will teach you to be effective in your tasks, how to work within the development methodology that has been implemented, and how to save your team time and money. 

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ISTQB Virtual Foundation Level Extension Agile Tester

This course provides testers and test managers with an understanding of the fundamentals of testing on agile projects. This hands-on course covers the major agile testing techniques via a virtual classroom and assigned exercises. This course was accredited by the ASTQB July 2014. The course follows the ISTQB Foundation Level Extension Agile Tester Syllabus 2014.

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ISTQB Virtual Test Engineering Foundation Level Boot Camp

Need to prepare for the ISTQB Foundation exam quickly, but don't have time or money for a live course? This Boot Camp combines a two day virtual classroom immersion in the Foundation syllabus with two weeks of our world-recognized, self-paced, ASTQB-accredited e-learning. In order to support our Green Initiative, this course is completely electronic unless the consumer opts to purchase hard copies. E-learning course re-accredited by ASTQB June 2010. This course follows the ISTQB Foundation Level Syllabus 2011.

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ISTQB Virtual Advanced Test Manager Boot Camp UPDATED FOR 2012 SYLLABUS

Need to prepare for the ISTQB Advanced Level Test Manager exam quickly, but don't have time or money for a live course? This Boot Camp combines a two day virtual classroom immersion in the Advanced syllabus with two weeks of our world-recognized, self-paced, ASTQB-accredited e-learning. The course includes option to purchase your choice of hard copy or e-book (ePub format or Amazon Kindle format) versions of the supplemental textbook, "Advanced Software Testing-Vol.2: Guide to the ISTQB Advanced Certification as an Advanced Test Manager". 

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ISTQB Virtual Advanced Test Analyst Boot Camp - UPDATED FOR 2012 SYLLABUS

Need to prepare for the ISTQB Advanced Level Test Analyst exam quickly, but don't have time or money for a live course? This Boot Camp combines a two day virtual classroom immersion in the Advanced syllabus with two weeks of our world-recognized, self-paced, ASTQB-accredited e-learning. 

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ISTQB Certified Tester Advanced Level E-learning – FULL

Achieve the ultimate ISTQB Advanced Level Certification, the ISTQB Advanced Level Certified Tester – Full. After successful completion of the Advanced Level Test Analyst, the Advanced Level Test Manager and the Advanced Level Technical Test Analyst exam, individuals receive the ISTQB Advanced Level Certified Tester – Full certification. An Advanced Level exam voucher for each Advanced Level exam is included (3 vouchers). All 3 courses are accredited with the ASTQB for ISTQB Advanced Level Syllabi 2012.

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ISTQB Certified Tester Advanced Test Analyst E-Learning

Free voucher for electronic exam with purchase! This course provides test engineers with advanced skills in test analysis, design, and execution. This hands-on course provides test engineers with the ability to define and carry out the tasks required to put the test strategy into action. Course module included for compatibility with the 2012 Syllabus.

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ISTQB Certified Tester Advanced Test Manager E-Learning - UPDATED FOR 2012 SYLLABUS

Free voucher for electronic exam with purchase! This course provides test managers with advanced skills in test estimation, test planning, test monitoring, and test control. Accredited by ASTQB January 2014. 

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ISTQB Test Engineering Foundation Level E-Learning

New and improved with more information than ever before but more affordable!  In order to support our Green Initiative, this course is completely electronic unless the consumer opts to purchase hard copies. Re-accredited by ASTQB June 2010. This course follows the ISTQB Foundation Level Syllabus 2011. 

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ISTQB Test Engineering Foundation Level E-learning in Chinese

ISTQB测试工程师初级培训电子课程 Free voucher for electronic exam with purchase! New and improved with more information than ever before but more affordable! In order to support our Green Initiative, this course is completely electronic unless the consumer opts to purchase hard copies. 买即送电子考试代金券!更新、更好、内容更多,价格更实惠!支持绿色环保倡议,本课程全部内容为电子版,除非消费者自选纸质教材。 Accredited by CSTQB. 已获CSTQB认可。 

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Managing the Testing Process E-Learning

This course will give attendees the tools they need to succeed as test managers from ways to measure and manage the skills testers need, to hiring, motivating and educating testers. The course also covers all the essential tools, techniques and critical processes that will help you manage and develop high-quality test systems that improve over time.

View details →

Requirements Engineering Foundation E-learning

This course is based on both the IIBA® (International Institute of Business Analysts) and IREB (International Requirements Engineering Board) bodies of knowledge and is an excellent preparation course for the IIBA®, IREB, and the IQBBA (International Qualification Board for Business Analysis) certification exams. It will teach you to be effective in your tasks, how to work within the development methodology that has been implemented, and how to save your team time and money. In order to support our Green Initiative, this course is completely electronic unless the consumer opts to purchase hard copies.

View details →

ISTQB Virtual Advanced Technical Test Analyst Training - UPDATED FOR 2012 SYLLABUS

The third of the ISTQB Advanced level courses to be created RBCS, Inc., this hands-on course provides technical test analysts with the ability to define and carry out the tasks required to fulfill the test strategy in terms of technical requirements. Accredited by ASTQB January 2013.

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ISTQB Virtual Test Engineering Foundation Level Training

The Foundation Level Test course, created by Rex Black, past President of the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB), past President of the American Software Testing Qualifications Board (ASTQB) and co-author of the International Software Testing Qualifications Board Foundation Syllabus, this course is ideal for testers and test teams preparing for certification.
 

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ISTQB Virtual Advanced Test Automation Engineer Boot Camp

The Advanced Test Automation Engineer Boot Camp, created by Rex Black, past President of the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB), past President of the American Software Testing Qualifications Board (ASTQB) and co-author of a number of International Software Testing Qualifications Board syllabi, is ideal for testers and test teams preparing for certification in a short timeframe with time and money constraints.

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Virtual Foundation Business Analyst Boot Camp

The Foundation Business Analyst Boot Camp, created by Rex Black, past President of the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB), past President of the American Software Testing Qualifications Board (ASTQB) and co-author of a number of International Software Testing Qualifications Board syllabi, is ideal for testers and test teams preparing for certification in a short timeframe with time and money constraints.

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ASTQB Virtual Requirements Engineering Foundation Training

This course explores not just why the requirements matter, but how to gather the right requirements, document them effectively and ensure that they are properly implemented. It explores the roles of the requirements engineer and business analyst both in ferreting out the requirements and interacting with the project team to ensure the customer gets the product they want and need. In this course you will learn effective techniques to select the right people from whom you will elicit the requirements. You will learn to document and track these requirements so nothing gets missed. You will learn which team members you must interact with at which stage in the project, and you will learn to track the requirements to completion. Rather than looking at the requirements gathering as the first step in the lifecycle, we look at the requirements throughout the lifecycle as a driving force to implementing the best product possible.

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