2017 – 3 weeks in.

A little belated, but I can get away with posting ‘Happy New Year‘ as this is my first post of 2017.

So, here we are, about 3 weeks in to the year and a lot has happened already:

  • I have taken on a new role in my company as Director of Quality Engineering – essentially Director of the QA function, for a different brand to where I worked before so this has opened up some new and exciting opportunities for me within https://www.flightglobal.com.
  • I recently joined the BCS and am hoping to get involved in their mentoring scheme for new conference speakers – I’d love to give something back to our testing community!
  • An article which I worked on late last year has been published in Test Magazine http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk//launch.aspx?eid=f785b07c-90bd-42be-b7fb-832c6c6bdd86 – and they have done a cracking job of the presentation and layout (thanks 31Media). Its all about where we should focus our efforts as testers when looking at honing our skills, so I would love to hear any feedback if you do happen to read it.
  • I am speaking at Testing Showcase North in Manchester in February on the subject of Tester Training, in a similar vein to the magazine article, but of course delivered as an interactive talk. Details available here http://conferences.unicom.co.uk/testing-showcase-north/.
  • Then a week later I am joining my colleague Bhagya Perera https://bhagyagdm.wordpress.com/ in London at the inaugural UKStar event to deliver a session on ‘The Communication Bridge’, which I am very much looking forward to as well. More details here https://ukstar.eurostarsoftwaretesting.com/.
  • Oh, and in May I will be speaking at the National Software Testing conference in London!

I cant believe how busy it’s been already, and that is without the workshop that I am running with my new team next Friday, and our ongoing QA Chapters that we run in-house.

But I am not complaining, I get bored easily (something that I am not proud of, as I wish I had more patience overall!), so doing a lot of things is good for me. One of my old team asked me last week how I found the time to do so many things. I do wonder myself sometimes, but my reply to her was that it comes down to having an in-built passion to do something of benefit. No-one can be forced to do anything extra – we have to want to. The secret is to find something that excites you, helps you grow as an individual, as well as in terms of job related skills. Giving something back by helping others where you can (it shouldn’t be just about personal gain), and making a difference – these are important to me, and I really hope that 2017 is even more awesome than 2016. Of course that depends on the amount of time and effort I am prepared to invest, so the incentive lies with me – but that’s what is good about it. I am in control and can do as much or as little as I feel capable of doing.

So, watch this space 🙂

Oh, one final thought – my job title is now Director, not Manager, but I think I will leave the site titled as ‘Musings of a Test Manager’, as I still think it sounds good to me. I tried thinking of alternatives, but ‘Doodles of a QA Director’ doesnt really have the same ring!

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My first Webinar!

A week ago I delivered my first Webinar, courtesy of Unicom Seminars (www.unicom.co.uk). They had approached me to see if I was interested, and after blogging, writing a few magazine articles and speaking at conferences, this was something I had not done before.

The theme was around learning and it worked well for me as I have been on a bit of a mission to help my team to do some tester pairing and Thought Leadership to stretch themselves, and I felt I could deliver something of value to others.

As I was writing the slides (and notes), I noticed just how much we focus as an industry on the purely technical skills that we want testers to have. It struck me that we are ignoring the analytical skills and soft skills that we want as well, which are the three areas I feel a good tester needs to work on. There’s no point in hiring a good technical tester who lacks analytical skills as they wont be able to plan the tests to actually automate. There’s also little point in hiring someone with little or no soft skills. Good communication skills are vital.

I managed to get the point across in a 30 minute slot, with 40 ‘live’ attendees listening in, and I was very pleased to have around 10 questions to answer as well.

Doing something like this has helped me to give something back to the wider testing community in a different way, and I am grateful for that opportunity. My next magazine article will be in Jan 2017 Tester magazine on this very topic so you will be able to read more there. Unicom have also asked me to do a conference session in Manchester in February on this topic, as they felt it would come across well.

I would encourage anyone reading this to have a think about stepping out and giving something back. The Ministry of testing offer the chance to do 99 second talks on a test related subject which can be put on a website, and this is a great first step towards doing a conference talk, webinar or writing a blog or article. It’s worth it, believe me.

Test Management Summit

A couple of days ago, I was at the Test Management Summit, organised by Paul Gerrard, and in fact it was the 50th one he had organised having started in January 2004. I was privileged to do a talk on diversifying as a Test Manager, as there seems to be a decline in the number of roles Test Manager roles.

I wanted an open debate and discussion around this as it is important to understand the implications of this. Where will existing Test Managers move to? Where will Test Leads work towards career wise?

We had 18 people engaged in this topic and I have to say that the 75 minutes went very quickly. I was grateful that I had such a good bunch of interested people in the talk, as it was never intended to be a monologue. Sending people to sleep during the day isn’t really my thing!

We concluded a number of things:

  • The stats I used to show a decrease in Test Manager roles were only for a 3 month period. if we look again in 3 months, would we still see the same thing? If we did, then it may be more of a worrying trend!
  • We all have a number of key skills that we sometimes forget about, but can be used in other roles.
  • My role has embraced product Management as well as Test Management and there are new skills I have learned which complement those I have from my testing background.
  • It is up to us to look around and try to create new roles for ourselves – reinvent. One guy said he had spent his career making himself redundant, in order to move on. That is really brave, but it has worked for him.
  • And Testing doesn’t stop at Test Manager – there are Programme Test Manager roles and increasingly people are looking for skills in Test Assurance.

I will review the same stats (number of Tester, Senior, Lead and Manager roles) again in 6 months and see what they look like. In the meantime, I dont see this as a problem – it is an opportunity for all of us to take control of our own careers and make decisions before someone else does it for us.

My advice – list your skills, you may be surprised at the things you do and take for granted.

Look at where you could utilise those skills, and also think of areas where you might like to get into, and plan how to close any skill gaps. We as Test Managers all need to move on to make room for those below us, or we get overtaken and become dinosaurs!