The Evolving Role of a Test Manager
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Since most of the organizations are moving to the Agile for its compatible workflow environment, most managers have come under the impression that their role as the team lead has lost its significant value. This however is not the case; the work ethic of the role has undoubtedly undergone a change but the role has not diminished altogether. In fact there is a lot that a test manager can take and draw from the traditional method and incorporate it into the new system. The person assuming the role of the test manager should be flexible enough to juggle between being a facilitator, mentor and friend at the same time. He should be able to devise interesting and creative ways to keep his team motivated and energized.
In order to maintain an effective testing process, the manger needs to lead his team from the front by nothing else but by example of his own. He first needs to understand how he can contribute to the testing process and how he can facilitate testers to do the same. There are certain traits that a test manager should possess in order to be successful:
- Excellent interpersonal communication skills
- Should constantly motivate and encourage his team
- Should be open to ideas and disagreements
- Test data preparation and development
- Documenting test cases
- Act as a bridge between developers and testers binding the two roles
- Managing offshore testing
- Constant coaching, mentoring of the staff
- Should be able to retain skilled personnel at the same time should have the ability to judge one’s capability and assign work accordingly
- Implementing metrics against the test product and the test team respectively
- Creating and updating client profiles
- To find a suitable approach to meet the objectives laid out by the organization and by the clients as well
James Bach takes an interesting take on the role of the test manager calling him the ‘Test Jumper.’ According to him:
“Test jumping is a time-critical role. You must learn to triage and split your time across many task threads. You must reassess project and product risk pretty much every day. I can see calling someone a test jumper who never “jumps” out of the project, but nevertheless embodies the skills and temperament needs to work in a very flexible, agile, self-managed fashion, on an intense project.”
Taking from this description it can easily be concluded that the test manager is more of a pilot in command of his ship who needs to navigate in the right direction to be at shore. Of course this is not achieved without the help of his team mates and you can only rely on your team if you know they trust you through thick and thin. The relationship has to be based upon give and take. A test manager should do multi-tasking and should have a hawk’s eye in order to realize the potential of his team and deliver accordingly.
The role is even made easier if it’s accompanied by a robust test management tool. But one must not forget that that too can only be of help if you have the right skills and expertise to carry out the testing process. So if you’re looking forward to assume the role, consider the above mentioned points first. Happy testing till then!