Musings of a Test Manager

Welcome to my blog, The idea is to share my experiences and also things I have picked up from work, social media, conferences etc and jot them down for anyone to read and comment on.


A bit of background to get started….

I work for a large B2B (business to business) data company, which has transitioned from being a print based publisher to selling data on-line.

My role is a Test Manager, and I sometimes forget, due to the day to day work, just how cool it is to be working in technology. In fact in my 29 years of working for a living, all but 3 years has been in IT!

I have been a software tester, senior tester, test lead and am now a manager. My career has been in software testing, from the days of manual functional testing on mainframe internal banking systems, the early e-business banking systems (everything was called ‘e’ something!), making the transition from Waterfall to Agile, moving from manual to automated tests on web applications, and now we are looking at testing apps on mobiles. Non-functional testing such as performance, load and security are now as important as functional testing. That’s a 25 year journey, summarised in 6 lines.

So much has changed when looking at the testing role – whereas you could break into testing easily as a non-technical manual tester, you now need to have some technical coding skills as most jobs require a tester to be able to write automated code.

I manage a team of 8 testers, mix of permanent and contract, plus we work with offshore partners. I enjoy the job – there’s always the admin tasks that have to be done which are at times tedious – but these are outweighed by the variety of the work we do. There are 5 teams, working on a number of products and projects, and one of the things I have had to learn is not to expect to know each one in-depth, but to know enough to be able to ask the right questions, support and guide the team, and answer any questions that senior managers might ask me.

I find that coaching and mentoring give me satisfaction as well as benefitting the team members. I could use the old saying about ‘teach a man to fish…’ which sounds corny but it is true.

Things I find work well are….

  • Trust the people that work for you to do a good job,
  • Be there to support them, and make sure they know they can actually count on you when needed – it’s not just about a soundbite. “My door is always open” is so lame!
  • Give them room to do the job well,
  • Don’t breathe down their necks,
  • Catch-up with them regularly so you know what is going on.

Of course the job throws up it’s challenges, and I’ll be sharing some of those over the next few weeks, starting with recruitment, and tackling the issue of why it seems to be so hard to find a good software tester!

I’m also involved with conferences and have been privileged to talk at the Next Generation Test Conference, the Test Management Forum and at Test Expo, and I have been part of the panel sessions and facilitated discussions as well, and will share some thoughts from the recent conferences here as well.

Feel free to contact me with your thoughts as a test manager or team leader, whether you agree or disagree with anything I say. Dialog (as long as it is constructive) is always welcome.