Test manager in Agile environments

Rationale

Test managers tend to be quite nervous about agile. As the focus of a testing team switches to collaboration on products and projects, rather than testing being an isolated phase or service, it may feel like the need for a test manager disappears. Because testers should be communicating their progress directly within their project teams, providing their estimates as part of an agile methodology and using just-in-time test planning, there is no need for a test manager who acts as an intermediary or overseer at a project level. 

But in general, in agile environments, one could see the test manager role as evolving to a higher-level position that includes:

  • In sprint zero: advisor to the team – how to cope with responsability for quality?
  • Facilitation of inter-team communication across many agile projects within an organization
  • Presenting an aggregate view of testing utilization to high level management
  • Personal support, mentoring, and professional development for testers (e.g. as a line manager)
  • Being an escalation point for testers
  • Budgeting or forecasting for testing as a service (dependent on organizational process – testing as a service must be used)
  • Involved in scrum-of-scrum meetings
  • Providing advice regarding quality
  • As a stakeholder for the product owner
  • Combined with the scrum master role

People Involved

The test manager is the only person involved in this role.

Artifacts

Artifacts of an test manager in an Agile context could be:

  • General test agreements between different Agile teams

Succes factors

The success factors of a test manager in Agile are quite diverse. However, they include:

  • To build trusting relationships with their staff
  • Improve the capabilities of the testing group
  • Trust the different teams and facilitate rather than trying to steer them in a direction. 

References

This building block is inspired by the blog Test Manager in Agile by Katrina Clokie.