Since mid-February I have been working as an interim Project Management role on a GDPR project, which I have thoroughly enjoyed, and I am now in my last week of the mopping up activities. This had followed a discussion around my previous role being at risk of redundancy (which I shared in a post here).
Knowing that this had an end date, I’ve been looking on and off for my next opportunity/adventure, and had been looking at roles within Test Management or Head of Testing. The problem is that a lot of the roles I saw were not a great fit. I was looking for something where I could make a real difference, coaching a team, improving the testing process, making things better, but job specs were highlighting experience with writing a Test Strategy, and implementing automation, and none stood out as asking for anything different. It seemed that there was already a plan – they just needed someone to come in and work to it. There was little mention of all the other areas of testing that need to be covered – Exploratory, Performance, Load, Security, UAT, and hardly anything about developing people.
I’ve also been reading posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Slack and other forums on testing approaches, and find I am out of step with what seems to be a popular opinion. There seems to be a simplistic view that testing is all about automation. Even those who should know better – large companies with reputable names who purport to have experience with testing – are still perpetuating the myth that you can replace all manual tests with automated ones. Well good luck with that!
I delivered a talk in May at the National Software Testing Conference on talking about testing, not just automation, and that testing is bigger than just automation. It seemed to strike a chord with a few of the people there, so I know that I am not alone in this, but I still feel that I am in a minority. Do you ever get to the point where you feel you are trying to hold back the tide?
It actually worries me that as an industry, we are allowing ourselves and others to see testing as just automation. And it saddens me that the hard work that many of us have put in over the years to elevate testing and ensure that test roles are seen on an equal footing with other tech roles is being eroded. A testing role is not a pseudo Developer role, but that is how we are being seen more and more. We do a lot of analytical work, but are we getting the credit for it?
I was starting to wonder how long it would take to find the right role for me within Testing – if indeed it existed! Should I stay within testing? Was it right for me? Am I out of step with everyone else? Where would I go? What kind of organisation? Where will I find a good match with the values I hold? So many things to consider.
Then, purely by chance, I found myself having a conversation about how my experience would be a good fit in a Project Manager role! I had considered other avenues from time to time (a few years ago I spoke about transferable skills) but had thought that my experience would preclude me from moving. But the great thing about working in a larger organisation is that as a known quantity, my overall experience and achievements are taken into account, whereas looking for a different role externally would be hard to break into. Whilst there are some gaps, I will undertake training to plug them, but as a PM with experience of testing, and good organisational skills, I should be in a great position to influence how we deliver a quality product.
I started to think about the things that drive me to come to work each day:
- Doing a job that I enjoy
- Doing a job that is interesting and challenges me (I am not good when I am bored)
- Making a difference by doing what I do
- Getting satisfaction from delivering something
- Working with good people who have the best intentions
The GDPR project has given me all of the above, and I have really enjoyed it (people give me funny looks when I say that!), therefore continuing on project work makes a lot of sense, especially given the concerns I have around finding a Test Manager role where I would be a good fit.
So – the decision has been made, and in one week, I embark in a new chapter in my career as a Project Manager.
What about testing? That’ll still be a part of my life (it’s been 30 years and I still find website errors without meaning to), it’s instinctive, but I just wont be involved on a daily basis. It certainly wasn’t the move that I had anticipated, but things happen for a reason, and I am looking forward to a new and exciting chapter in my career where I can make a difference.