Six Focus Areas for Effective Test Management
Finishing a certain task is good. However, finishing it effectively is even better.
The word effective can often get very subjective. In simple terms, it refers to being successful in producing an intended result or outcome. When we map this to the role of a test manager, we often hear the need for a test manager to be more effective and to have a well-rounded focus. With practice and ongoing learning, over time it is certainly an achievable goal.
So, what does a well-rounded focus really mean? I look at it as six important areas coming together: domain focus, test expertise, leadership style, management practices, proactivity quotient, and communication protocols. Let's take a brief look at each of these.
Domain focus is bringing in the required extent of vertical knowhow, including workflows and subject matter expertise, to understand the product under test beyond just its specifications. Aligning domain expertise with test expertise to arrive at the right balance for the entire team is a very important piece in the whole mix.
The one thing to keep in mind about test expertise is that even though core testing techniques remain the same over the years, new tools, processes, and technologies are coming in by the day. The test manager has to embrace new ideas to bring in more coverage while keeping proven traditional practices to ensure quality within the product’s constraints.
Online resources—blogs, podcasts, or articles—are abundantly available to encourage the team to stay in touch with the latest in the industry. The team needs to define the right best practices around test strategy, planning, design, and execution to align with its end-user or client needs. The test manager plays a critical role in helping define and implement these practices.
As for leadership and management practices, the manager has to embrace excellence and lead by example. If he works toward his team members’ careers, his growth will automatically follow. He needs to empower his team to succeed, especially from collaboration and team morale standpoints.
Proactively, if the manager encourages his team to think big and beyond the core project, with a focus on end results, the team’s output will be remarkable.
Finally, defining the right practices to communicate well and foster trust and transparency inside and outside the team will go a long way toward making the team effective. Learning to say no when needed is a difficult but vital art to master.
How can we measure the effectiveness of the above practices? We can use a selected set of metrics to measure the test effort’s quality, which will translate into how effective the test team—and, more importantly, the test manager—has been.