UKTMF – Food for thought

I attended the UK Test Management Forum yesterday (see previous blog), and I had invited Stephen Janaway from Net-A-Porter to do a talk for us.

His talk was excellent to be honest. It generated so much discussion that we ran out of time (we had 75 minutes allocated), and that is a sign of a great discussion topic. And it wasn’t just 2 people speaking up – most of the 15 people in that session contributed.

The talk was about the future of Test Management – how to manage testers without there being a formal Test Manager role in place in an Agile organisation. It is ironic that many of us spent years working our way up to a role which conceivably may not exist in 5-10 years time! But there is some hope….

Stephen recounted his experience moving away from a formal management type role to a coaching role, and it made me really think about the benefits of that type of approach. All the developers, testers and BA’s report to one person in a project team, rather than the testers reporting outside, but of course this leads to concerns about non testers managing testers, how that works in terms of career paths, training and also maintaining good test standards in each team. And that is where the coach comes in.

It actually sounds like a really interesting role, to be able to work alongside teams who need guidance in doing what they do better – as long as it doesnt feel like they are being seen as a failing team. Removing the people management from a role can free up the time to really look at the test process. Is it something the tester does, or do the whole team take on test tasks (which they should in an Agile world). Are tests automated or performed manually, so that regression is patchy. Is non-functional testing covered? What state are the user stories in – are they of good quality so that the team are delivering what the customer actually wants, to the standard they want? And so on.

Stephen also runs a Chapter for testers (actually I do the same thing in my organisation), as it is a great way to bring together testers from disparate teams to be able to share best practice, do showcases, invite speakers etc. He is really enjoying the role, and it is encouraging to see where we as Test Managers could be progressing towards in the future.

It isn’t often that I have come away from a talk with my head spinning with thoughts and ideas, so thanks Stephen!

And you can read more about Stephen and his experiences at http://www.stephenjanaway.co.uk/

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UKTMF

First off, Happy New Year!

It’s been about a month since I last posted something, and with the Christmas holiday I did think it would be better to wait until now before restarting.

So, one full day back at work and the holiday seems a distant memory already, but there is something to look forward to, and that is the UKTMF, for Test Managers.

UKTMF is the UK Test Management Forum, which has been around for 10 years, meeting quarterly in central London, and the 45th session is on Wednesday 28th January from 1.30pm GMT. It was run single handedly by Paul Gerrard up until last summer when he asked for volunteers to help, and I was one of a number of people who stepped forward, and am now a ‘friend of the forum’ helping out where needed, so I will declare an interest right now.

I do not intend to use this blog to promote attendance by Test Managers at every one of these, as I think you would soon get bored, but there is a specific talk that I would highlight, and that is by Stephen Janaway, on ‘How to Focus On Testing When There Are No Test Managers’.

Over the past few years there has been a trend moving away from having Test Managers performing the traditional role. With Agile teams, testers are often reporting in with the other Agile team members into another role, such as Product Owner. This then leaves us (who have spent years in testing working our way up to Test Manager level) to wonder where our careers will go next. Stephen has been through this and can give us an interesting perspective on how his role has changed, and I hope this will open a discussion as to how we need to adapt to the changing role of the Test Manager, and to look at skills we have that are transferable to other roles within IT.

The cost is £20, plus VAT, which is great value for an afternoon session. There are three parallel talks at 2pm and three more at 3.45pm – you decide on the day which ones to attend. And there are refreshments, and drinks afterwards.

The other talks are equally as good, and Joanna Newman will be doing one at the same time as Stephen’s on how to attract, retain and motivate ‘millenials’. I will be very torn on the day as I’d like to go to both!!

If you’d like to book a place, then here is the link: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/test-management-forum-wednesday-28-january-2015-tickets-14988876132

Thanks for reading!