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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