Test managers, start managing now!

David Tzemach

Posted On: January 11, 2023

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Test managers, start managing now!Some things in life are immutable. For example, we will only live to reach 120 years old. It is possible but extremely unlikely. Another guarantee is that testing will be squeezed into the schedule. It is doubtful that you will be given enough time for testing and a suitable position on the project’s list of priorities.

Given this fairly undeniable truth, I must ask some of you test managers out there: Why are you still getting caught off guard by these vulnerabilities as if you didn’t see them coming? Why are you putting your team through absurd amounts of overtime when other project members get to enjoy their weekends? Why are you pushing your staff to produce last-minute excuses for unexecuted tests and unexercised features due to time constraints? Why are you enabling your team to be the perfect candidate in the inevitable finger-pointing game?

Well, this is more than one question, but I must add that I am astounded by some test managers’ lack of responsibility. Trying to mitigate such problems is an essential requirement of quality management. So, if you’re not doing this, what are you doing? Contrary to common belief, just attending a meeting and applying stress does not define test management. I’m sure you all understand what I am talking about because we’ve all seen those bosses who have mastered the art of appearing productive and dominating.

They constantly attend and leave meetings, and when they receive criticism from project management, they just pass that burden on to the subordinate test engineers. When their managers scream at them, they convey that rage to their subordinate test engineers. This managerial style is not beneficial to anyone since hardly anything improves.

I’m not under the impression that there is some magical solution that will suddenly make unproductive projects run more smoothly or totally remove the test team’s regular burdens. What I mean is that it is essential to manage the situation, gradually change the tendency to wrongly pressure the test team’s schedule, and increase team morale. A test manager can achieve these effects in a variety of methods, including the two below:

Realizing That Money Can’t Buy everything

Managers frequently believe pouring money into project problems that can compensate for poor management and planning. For example, when a project’s deadline is nearing, and it is at risk of being missed, there is sometimes a temptation to assign additional workers or to automate immediately. However, increased resources, test automation, and other measures to get immediate gratification often demand more time in the near term. As a result, undertaking such endeavors when time is essential might be exceedingly detrimental. To prevent exacerbating a negative situation, test managers must be able to convey this to project management properly.

Build Trust with Your Colleagues

If you look after your employees, they will look after you, so avoid passing the blame. Stop tossing your team under the bus. I can think of a billion new clichés, but the main point I’m trying to make is: have a backbone and start taking care of your employees! You are intended to shelter them from the project’s politics so that they can focus on completing the task. If your teammates do not believe they can rely on you to defend their best interests, they will devote most of their time and effort to establishing political cover for themselves, reducing the amount of time and effort they devote to producing.

To successfully influence your team, you must first build trust. You must be able to put your trust in them, and they must be able to put their trust in you. Having faith in your employees does not necessitate you to believe they are completing jobs, but it also does not require you to micromanage them. Neither is beneficial to the trust connection. Instead, develop and enforce the adoption of standard templates and processes, and provide a centralized site for routinely recording metrics that you can use to produce progress/trend charts as a manager.

Trend charts are a fantastic way to track progress without continually looking over your employees’ shoulders or requesting an excessive number of time-consuming daily updates. Test management systems are quite useful for this task. Use it if you have access to one. Far more often, test managers allow test management technologies to be utilized just for test storage rather than for their entire range of reporting and analytic features.

Once you’ve started to trust your subordinates, focus on gaining their faith in you. One method to accomplish this is to demonstrate your trust in them. For example, if a testing dispute between another team’s resource and one of your employees is brought to your notice, start by publicly giving your subordinate the benefit of the doubt. Then, try to clear things up with them personally.

Refrain from making it known that your team is wrong. Limit the number of overtime that may be asked of your team. With the test completion targets established early in the project, you now have a solid foundation for declining demands for extra hours. And, once you’ve persuaded resources to volunteer for overtime (which is significantly convenient to do when they believe you’re looking out for their best interests), make it known to the project team that you and your team would only work longer hours if the necessary support (development, networking, DBA, etc.) is also accessible.

There is absolutely no greater waste of resources than rushing in to conduct testing without assistance because testing is doomed the moment something goes wrong with the system. When you consistently waste your subordinates’ time, they begin to believe that you and the team do not respect their time, and you begin to lose trust and productivity.


As someone who has managed test groups and worked under both competent and bad test managers, I’ve experienced both the positive and negative consequences of successfully mitigating the recognized testing problems highlighted in this article. As a result, I advise all test managers to do their job and find a means to adequately address these predicted conditions, either by following the ideas outlined above or by developing your own.

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David Tzemach

The founder and owner of the Agile Quality Made Easy blog (25K followers). A platform that he uses for teaching and coaching others, sharing knowledge with people, and guiding them towards success while giving them the inspiration and tools to discover their own path.

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