A good manager creates a space where people can do their best work. A leader sets an example and inspires others to follow and then to lead in their turn. A good test manager is both a good manager and a leader. A good test manager manages testing, and not just “the testing process”—the rituals and ceremony of both traditional and Agile projects.
Humans develop processes and rules for much of our work and play, not only because they are enablers but also because we find innate satisfaction in the ceremony of processes and rules. At work, defined processes and rules help us to feel that we are in control of our actions and thereby better placed to predict and control the outcomes. Through repeated practice, they become accepted ceremonies.
In reality, predefined processes can advance our work or impede it. Familiar industry-standard processes may merely provide the illusion of control and a false expectation of predictable outcomes in circumstances where certainty is unattainable. Some ritualised processes can be more actively harmful, because they focus attention and effort on the wrong things, diverting our energy from actually getting the job done.
How do we reconcile what we need to do as good test managers with the sometimes excessive demands of process? How can we ensure that essential project work dictates our processes, rather than processes dictating the work?
Are you managing testing—or managing “the test process”? Are you testing—or following “the test process”? Testers are people who question. Questioning our work and our processes is just as critical to the pursuit of quality as questioning products.
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Fiona Charles – Principal Consultant, Quality Intelligence Inc.
Fiona Charles teaches organizations to match their software testing to their business risks and opportunities. With 30+ years experience in software development, she has managed testing and consulted on testing on many challenging projects for clients in retail, banking, financial services, health care, telecommunications and emergency services.
Throughout her career Fiona has advocated, designed, implemented, and taught pragmatic and humane practices to deliver software worth having—in even the most difficult project circumstances. Her articles on testing and test management appear frequently and she speaks and conducts experiential workshops regularly at conferences.