This was about two or three years ago. At a meeting with some project managers we have discussed the main issues they are facing. Then we could divide the trouble into several groups.
- The business side is always desperate of going live yesterday
- The development side is never doing enough testing, NEVER
- Testing is always the very last thing done in a project due to its nature, so all the pressure is on managers
- The environment is nothing but broken, like, always broken
- Everybody is always blaming the testers in every mortal sin
The interesting part is that the challenges have hardly changed over the last couple of years. That made me think of the reason of this happening. Testing has improved and evolved drastically over the several passed years, so why’s this continuing to happen.
So I became curious and made a tiny research of my own. It’s not scientific at all yet the results were interesting. I simply was asking some IT experts I knew, was looking on various forums and books, etc. And the results I’ve discovered (not at all scientific as I have mentioned) were that these issues are well spread amongst lots of companies. Then I found an interesting article I still remember. It was about art and science of testing. So here we go.
This brunch focuses on the soft skills of the manager. The ones nobody actually teaches you. This is the part of communication and managing various people and stakeholder groups. The main abilities here would be:
- Accepting as well as appreciating other people’s thoughts and ideas. This is the major part of the process of explaining the business side in a proper manner that the project’s testing is not quite prepared. Thus the project can’t go live just right now. And vice versa. In a way that would please everybody.
- Don’t lead, just follow. That is a lousy practice. You can’t just simply rely on things people say too much. Speak up, be a leader. Otherwise people will simply forget you have something important to say.
- Even when an issue is noticed you have to properly explain the impact it has on the project and the impact that fixing it will cause.
- Never lose the big picture. Shure when testing is on the go and moving like a thousand miles per hour it is extremely difficult to keep track of everything. Don’t get carried away. Always remember that the software is created to serve the business porpoises rather than just to be easy to test. Never let fixes ruin the functional part of the software.
- The mentioned things are never black or white only. You’ll totally have to be a great negotiator to be able of dealing with them on both sides.
This is the part focused on the process itself. In some other words it is a ‘what do the numbers say’ part. It is easier to teach, yet can not be neglected as well. The main skills here are:
- Be able to use metrics in order to make and prove your point. Demonstrating the issue by simply talking about it or using metrics to show how it has appeared and how is it influencing the project are two entirely different demonstrations. Of different value.
- Always implement the basics. The basics of any good testing strategy involve early engagement and early tests on requirements as well as using risk as a guideline.
- What is static is dead. If you need to change the strategy, if the metrics are actually shouting about it don’t be afraid to do so. Your strategy needs to evolve rapidly to effectively implement changes necessary for projects that always differ one from another at least a little bit.
Useful tips for your Test Managers
- The managers simply can not always be friends with everybody, yet they must be respected. Feel free to fire the Manager that has lost all his respect. He is pointless for the process from this point and on.
- The business side is not always in the right. So they need to see your managers as trustworthy and reliable advisors.
- Your managers have to be expert leaders and expert testers. That way they mill have what it takes to stand up and fight for what is right.
- Their primary job is communicating the risk.
- The manager has to collaborate on major decisions. Everyone involved has to be aware of some big changes going on.
- The managers have to be open minded if they want to be able of re-strategizing the entire project.
- If stuff goes bad the manager has to keep shouting (not like a little girl, I mean) about it on every corner until somebody listens. Then and only then he may stop screaming.
- Things are never going according to plan. Make sure your manager is flexible enough to handle all possible events.