A transition to an agile model in software testing might be challenging for those who have never faced such an approach. Agile test strategy affects everyone’s roles in the process because it differs from the traditional software designing processes. Some of you might say that the role of a test manager in agile software testing changes the most. Well, it seems fair enough.
The traditional (or waterfall) software development process implies that the test manager has to control all the managerial aspects within the team. They delegate the assignments, organize meetings, gather reports to control the current stage of development and provide technical assistance. In turn, agile methodology in software testing is a self-directed approach. So, each team is responsible for all the tasks oneself.
Here you can say that if the approach is changing so drastically, then the teams do not need a test manager because they are independent. But the main thing is that a test manager obtains new duties, and his or her role remains essential. Agile software testing promotes teamwork. As a result, the test manager is a team member with a testing skill rather than a stand-alone role.
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So, what does the role of the test manager in agile testing process imply?
More communication, less documentation.
The process is less formal, so team actions coordination and decision-making take place through close communication. Therefore, the test manager participates in all team events (scrum meetings, retrospectives, any discussions), even if they are separated from the developers.
The development consists of sprints – short cycles of fixed length, at the end of which we have a working, tested software functionality. The test manager participates in sprint planning and features testing. It means that testing is the usual tack of work with a particular feature, and it is embedded in the feature assessment. The participation of the test manager helps to avoid neglect of the testing.
Joint planning by developers and test managers helps to find out the details of the features, which will help to make the assessment more accurate. The agile testing process implies the following approach: the feature is not ready until the test manager says that it can be released. All members of the team should understand this immutable principle.
Sprint tasks are the overall task of the entire team.
The team determines the scope which it is going to implement during the fixed iteration. All the tasks within this cycle are the team tasks. Testing is not a stage in Agile software development; it is a continuous activity before, during, and after each sprint.
In the agile testing process, each team is responsible for the quality of the software. And this quality has to be ensured from the start of the work, rather than fitted in the end. If any of the participants of the agile testing life cycle are not focused on quality, the test manager should remind the team of the consequences, which may affect the software quality.
The function of the test manager at this point is to ensure his or her team has the necessary set of testing tools and visible goals, which contribute to the product quality. In turn, it is difficult for test managers who believe their job is to verify product and specification compliance to get along with agile testing.
Contribution to professional development.
The strategic character of the agile testing process implies that each test manager will be more aware of the necessity of team members’ professional development. At some point, the test manager plays the role of mentor, advisor, and personal assistant, who understands how to contribute to the testers’ progress both in personal and professional spheres. Being the escalation point for the team members, the test manager helps to set SMART goals and provide enough room for growth.
Everything you read today confirms: the test manager changes their role but not their importance in Agile Testing. The strategic character of agile software testing requires the responsibilities of a test manager to be evolved and adjusted in accordance with the new requirements. To be more effective, the test manager has to implement appropriate test management tools to make the testing process smoother, and the desired result closer.