A test manager is part of a testing team whose main interest is the quality of the system. Learn more about their responsibilities in this article.
An organization will have access to a wide range of resources, including people, infrastructure, machines, and hardware. To provide a quality deliverable, the test manager is responsible for making use of all the available resources to meet end-goals. In this article, we will discuss what test managers do in the life cycle of any project.
So… What Does a Test Manager Do?
Let’s look first at IT managers and their part in the process. They are involved in the project, aiming to deliver quality software for a specific use. However, a test managers primary contribution is to add value to the overall success of the project. They plan and control the test processes to prevent severe failure. Therefore, test managers appropriately carry out test processes along – with associated activities – according to the business needs and circumstances.
Understanding the Various Stakeholders
In the context of software testing, stakeholders are those with a vested interest in the testing activities directly or indirectly, such as carrying out the testing work and the delivery of the final system. With that in mind, who the stakeholders are may vary from organization to organization, but depending on factors such as the project, resources, and time, they generally include the following roles:
- Developers, leads, and development managers are the stakeholders who implement the system/project, produce testing results, and make corrections based on the results received (e.g., fixed defects which are reported by the testing team).
- Architects (database, system) and designers are the stakeholders who create the system or project, receive results from testing teams and make corrections.
- Business Analysts determine the essential quality level of the system under test. These stakeholders often make decisions based on results received from the testing team.
- Project managers are the stakeholders responsible for the success of the system. They often collaborate with test managers to plan and prioritize testing activities.
- End users are the primary stakeholders who will eventually use the system directly.
In order to deliver quality with precision, test managers identify the stakeholders concerned with testing activities, to help them understand how the testing team can better serve the other stakeholders by conforming to the business and technical requirements. Test managers also identify further lifecycle activities – which can have a direct or indirect impact – to maintain effectiveness and efficiency at an optimal level.
Additional Activities of Test Manager in SDLC
In an Agile environment, developers perform automated unit testing and integrate their code (along with test scripts) continuously into the configuration system. Test managers at that level work directly with the development team manager to make sure his or her testing team is properly aligned with all activities performed at the development environment. This way the testing team proves to be more effective as they review the unit tests and contribute by making suggestions for increasing test coverage and a deeper understanding of the technical requirements and implementations.
Echoing the way stakeholders were profiled earlier, the test manager identifies various software lifecycle activities that may cause ripple effects on the processes, such as the following which can be interconnected.
- Requirements Analysis and Management: The test manager works on the requirements to provide an estimate of the testing activities and to keep abreast of changes throughout the lifecycle.
- Project Management: The test manager shares requirements with the project manager, and information related to resource availability.
- Configuration Management: The test manager establishes a test delivery mechanism to help the delivery process to be smooth and aligned with the technical requirements.
- Maintenance and Support: The test manager participates in defect management activities and also aids technical support staff to ensure proper delivery during test closure activity to help them workaround any failure in the production.
To become effective and successful within an organization, a test manager must maintain their team with an updated skills set, and whenever needed, they must hire new talent and help them to settle within the team through adequate training and guidelines. This approach helps test managers to maintain team performance at peak levels.
Test managers possess not just technical skills but also interpersonal skills. The best know how to give constructive criticism, negotiate and embed valuable skills in their team.
Demotivation can be disastrous and results in poor quality even if team members put their best in it. When members of the team contribute to the value of the project, then it is essential to recognize and give respect to them. Test manager plays a vital role in motivating their subordinates by setting an example and being a champion of the team.
Importance of Non-Functional Testing
Test managers know the importance of non-functional tests and integrate them during the development lifecycle. The preferable approach of a test manager is to prioritize the non-functional tests according to the potential risk. However, some organizations prefer they wait for the functional tests to be completed, then run non-functional tests, allowing the identification of defects in the later stages.
To meet the expectations of the stakeholders and to fulfill the technical and business requirements, test managers evaluate success criteria along with quality metrics for optimum effectiveness and to satisfy the needs and expectations of all stakeholders, including customers and users.
Test managers always remain aware of required standards and their organization’s policies. This determines their goals as well as making sure that compliance is maintained, which subsequently helps them lead their teams to ensure the quality of the system under test.