If you were a New Software Test Manager?

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    Ronan Healy

    This is a topic possibly for current test managers and those hoping to move into the role.

    I am interested in the how testers move up into management and how you might have to change your focus and what you are working on.

    Speaking to those that are currently test managers, If you knew then what you know now, what would, say be the top five things you would suggest any new test manager should focus on once they start their new role?

    Did you focus on those things when you started in your role or did it require some learning in the job?


    For me, the transition from tester to test management occurred at the same time my group was adopting agile so I had much so much to learn about my new responsibilities as a test manager, people manager, and a new way to deliver customer value. It is a challenge to move from individual contributor to a leadership role but it also provides many great new opportunities.

    Top 5 suggestions that I think a test manager should focus on:
    1. My top suggestion is to keep learning. Learn about software, about emerging trends, new tools, about people leadership, about testing. It is painful to watch good testers move into test management and apply only the skills they used in the past. Read everything you can, attend conferences, meet with other software professionals. You don’t have to agree with everything that you read or with what others say, but this will help you learn and develop your own take on test management.
    2. Like the first suggestion, learning is also important for the other testers on the team. Encourage them to keep learning too! Start a book club, a testing wiki, have contests, join a community of practice, etc. Being a tester can at times feel like a dead-end and as a test manager you can do so much to get enthusiasm back into the group by initiating these types of learning for the team.
    3. Understand what your customers want. Do they really want a stack of test scripts? A testing center of excellence in some remote part of the world? Or do they want quality software that helps them meet some business need? This requires that you talk with them, see them in their environment, understand their needs.
    4. Be passionate about quality and get others infected with that passion. You job as a test manager will be so much easier if you get the whole delivery team to be concerned with testing. Work with the other roles on your team. Get developers excited about delivering a quality product. Help the business analysts with writing testable requirements. Show the data analysts how their models could be tested before integrating with the code. When quality becomes the goal of the entire team, great things happen!
    5. Finally, don’t cave into pressures to take the easy way out. This means putting less emphasis on writing more test scripts, finding more trivial bugs, and providing more metrics just to make your team look good. These are the easy, and visible part of testing, but can give your team a bad reputations for valuing these deliverables above the success of the larger delivery team and the creation of valuable software.

    Just my random thoughts on this topic – would love to hear what others think.



    If you are new, then there are surely many things to learn a long the way. However, in a first few months, I would suggest to focus on the following:

    * Dont show off too much as a manager. I see many new managers fall in this trap. They show off too much and too soon. E.g.: “Hey, I’m a manager now, you need to listen to me, and ..this is what you must do…”
    * Dont try to design new process, procedures, etc just because now you are a manager. As a new manager, you want to be special and admired, dont try to impress upper manager or your members by trying to invent a new process for team
    * Ask for your member helps, ideas, opinion because you are new in team
    * Learn how to manage test and manage team

    My 2 cents



    If I am a Test manager for new or just got into the role of test Manager then
    1. I prefer to first understand the project situation and test challenges.
    2. Identify risks, mitigation plans and contingency plan to support to changing business needs for meeting project goals.
    3. By interacting and engaging with Team and communicate organizational and functional strategy and translate it into team goals.
    4. Implementing a effective test strategy and plan to achieve the team goals.
    5. Driving and monitoring the process initiatives to meet the business needs.


    Ronan Healy

    @Monte, @Thanh @Bharathi Thanks for your thoughts. It seems that the first thing when becoming a test manager is to start looking at the big picture.

    It seems fairly obvious but I wonder if it is a common enough thing that someone becomes a new test manager and forgets that they shouldn’t just still be looking for bugs anymore?

    Have ye come across this?


    I came across the situation two times and each time my new test managers still tested with us the softwares.


    ​I am not yet software test manager, but I in my previous role I am project manager. I like to bring my views in front of others.
    Management(Manager) is more about art profile where you deal with people + process​ = technologies.

    If I am software test manager I like focus on these points
    1. Mentor to Jr. Staff development to reach career goals.
    2. Extensive test engineering management in communications with end to end ( people + process​ = technologies )
    3. involving testing with testing team to find the bugs. ( many mangers just like to send the reports to management, but its not a good practise in QA )
    4. Plan testing, Building test strategies, Code reviewing, risk analysis,
    5. Other Skills – Effective communication, Having and spreading the “customer-focus” vision, Developing people, Bringing out creativity in others(Organizing brainstorm session), Motivating people, Team building, Enabling changes, Decision making, Test documentation.


    1) learn about people – eg: change management: what makes people change, like Virginia Satir change model (http://stevenmsmith.com/ar-satir-change-model/) and Jerry Weinbergs elaboration on the same.
    2) learn how systems change, eg. the life-cycle process, how ideas and problems becomes updates. Perhaps ITIL and IT change management or release management.
    3) learn about complexity, like cynefin: http://www.everydaykanban.com/2013/09/29/understanding-the-cynefin-framework/
    4) Realize that your way of doing it is just one way, there are other ways
    5) May the Force be With You

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