What is the role of test manager?

What is the role of test manager? Has it changed or evolved in the age of agile and DevOps ?

Should test manager upskill or broaden in wider aspects (i.e. security, big data, automation, performance testing, network, database, cloud technology, lean testing practices, microservices, )?

Do you have test mangers in your current project? Do you need one? What are you looking for from a test manager?

Thoughts :point_down:

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Yes, in many cases the role has changed AND evolved - not just because of Agile and DevOps.

I am in the middle of transitioning from having a team of testers report to me to now having the title ‘practice lead’. No direct reports, but still many opportunities to contribute to the success of the organization and its mission. This was not necessarily an Agile or DevOps related change. It was more an evolution of team reporting structure to align with other business units in our enterprise.

All of the skills you list are still important to me for being successful in this new role. I already have a strong working relationship with each tester; I hired them, trained them and grew them into their roles with the help of the team. But now I can spend more time coaching and developing specific skills and targeted outcomes with the testers. These are aligned with the product team leads, who I also have a prior strong working relationship established.

There are still needs for test managers in various organizations. I don’t see the role going away anytime soon. But, people in testing leadership roles do need to be aware of the trends, understand how they could be impacted, and be ready to react and evolve if needed. Thankfully, I was well read on the S. Janaway and K. Clokie articles/posts on the test coach role. When the proposed org changes were presented to me, I could write my own job description within 24 hours and begin a plan for the transition.

hth

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I’m a Test Manager. I still consider myself a tester, but I am also a line manager of a discipline of testers, plus a leader of the testing discipline in my organisation.

I am ultimately responsible for the outcomes of the team’s work, as well as stimulating their learning, helping them to resolve and overcome issues around testing and hiring new team members. I am the link between our testers and our senior management, and a core member of our engineering leadership team. I set the direction for the team’s approach, although I’m pleased to say I have devolved as much of that as possible to my competent, trusted team. I set up and nominally “run” our QA Community of Practice and I’m responsible for the collection of metrics, although again I like to devolve these along lines of people’s teams and specific interest (why would people care about metrics if they were collated, analysed and presented back by me alone?).

My job role might as well be Head of Test or Director of Testing - personally prefer the more humble, and closer to testing “Test Manager”. Other organisations may have multiple Test Managers for multiple things reporting in to some more senior role, and I manage testing at my organisation. As ever in testing… the title is very dependent on the organisation and not all that translatable.

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I think there is always need for test managers. Usually there are 2 to 3 testers in an agile team, even in a multi-team setup there is not not enough man power or time to take care of a few testing essentials:

  • tooling for the whole team to prevent every team from using their own solution.
  • testing metrics across the whole project for management
  • training
  • replacement, backup and so on
    In most teams IÄve been in these questions were seen as not part of the agile team, you still need someone to do them.
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I am a Test Manager and believe the role is still relevant (of course I would :slight_smile: ) It has evolved but not strictly due to Agile. Testers have become much more autonomous and involved in all stages of the software testing lifecycle (at my organisation this is true) so they are self organising and much of the time leading their own projects. However I still oversee all of this from a higher level, plus with setting standards and practices, reporting, and coaching and development, there is still much for me to do.

I have always had it in the back of my mind that the role may not always be relevant or required, who knows? I enjoy what I do and I am contributing a lot, but it’s best to be prepared. So I am also investing my time in learning about and practicing Project Management - it doesn’t hurt to branch out into something else to have on the side just in case.

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My role evolved from Software tester, Software Test Lead to Automation Test Manager. I am part of the team who defines the acceptance criteria, I have to come up with test plans, test strategies, write automation tests and perform exploratory testing. I have to set the testing process and the good test practices within the team and make sure testers are properly engaged in the process. I think it is a hard work as you have to have a particular skills set to be able to communicate with different parties making sure everybody understands how and what needs to be tested, and also keep up to date with technical stuff which gives you the voice to discuss with developers the appropriate automation test required.
You also need to lead by example as this affects the performance of your testing team and also affects how they are seen by different departments in the company.

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As mentioned already by a few that role of TM is evolving just as the role of a tester.

So what’re the most critical and relevant skills or knowledge TM should acquire for future opportunities?

I would honestly say the things I lean most heavily on are good understanding of the various specialisms and general skills in testing, and leadership skills. Pretty much everything else required is contextual, eg Metrics (the albatross of the TM role…) - you shouldn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to these, you should use them sparingly and only when they add value to the organisation.

My pet peeve as a tester was always new test managers/leaders who came in and said “this worked in my last place, so we’re doing it”. Every team, every organisation, every culture and certainly every individual is different. Approach should be too - as such, some creativity and adaptability are essential for anyone wanting to lead testers.

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