The test manager of the future
Increasingly high demands are being made on the abilities and competencies of test managers. The common denominator of the challenges facing the test manager of the future is the necessity of developing a broader skill set.
Like everything else, the role of the test manager is constantly changing. Large organizations have been steadily increasing their demands over the years, and this will only continue. In this interview, Martin Skovgaard, Product Director at ProData Consult, highlights some of the tendencies which he predicts will influence the role of the test manager in the future.
Business knowledge is a must
A recurring challenge for test managers is the increased expectation that they are able to understand the business at a higher level. Systems and the business knowledge behind them are becoming increasingly complex, and this means that test managers must be able to challenge and define system and user requirements for the business to a much greater extent than in the past.
“For some projects, the business has such an extreme deficit of resources that the test managers become the natural relief valve in relation to defining and systematizing system requirements. This requires a higher degree of business understanding and knowledge,” Skovgaard explains.
A higher degree of business understanding is more sought-after than in the past. In addition, Skovgaard predicts that test managers will become even more domain-specific in the future, as we have seen in relation to project management.
“In future, we will be seeing more industry-specialized test managers. Some will specialize in the financial sector, others in the energy sector. But they will have one thing in common: clients will place higher demands on their business knowledge,” Skovgaard says.
Agility and automated testing
The spread of agile projects and programs, particularly at large companies, means that test managers need to have experience with agile projects and be able to document it.
“For example, it’s not atypical that test managers have to be Scrum Master certified to meet the IT organization’s qualification requirements. Being familiar with agile principles used to be enough, but many companies are not satisfied with that today,” Skovgaard says.
The increased presence of agile programs and projects also leads to more short, iterative development cycles. This increases the need for more testing, in particular regression testing.
“Even though regression testing is not generally seen as the sexiest form of testing, it’s essential to ensuring quality. A higher release frequency demand a higher test iteration frequency,” Skovgaard explains.
More test iterations will typically require an automated approach to testing, because numerous repetitions of the same test scenario are involved. For this reason, test managers will be expected to have greater competencies in automated testing - a discipline which can be relatively technical.
Another concept which will become increasingly unavoidable for test manager is IoT, the Internet of Things. Testing the software built into IoT devices will make new demands on environments and data, and as a consequence, cloud services such as Xamarin Test Cloud will win ground. This means that testers and test managers will need to be able to handle more tools than ‘just’ the traditional test management tools.
The operational testing role will be moved
In the future, test managers will be more strongly affected by nearshoring. Although many Scandinavian businesses still keep the coordinating and managerial roles in house, Skovgaard predicts that operational testing roles will be nearshored to a higher degree, for example to Poland. Nearshoring makes it even more necessary to handle documentation effectively, to ensure that the test meets the necessary quality standards, both in relation to analysis and design.
“As a test manager, you have to welcome nearshoring. This means test managers need to focus more on coordination, on quality and on the amount of documentation the test is based on,” Skovgaard says.
Finally, the Product Director asserts that a more globally distributed structure also calls for a test manager with strong communicative, interpersonal and organizational skills. This means that the personal characteristics of the test manager of the future will become more and more similar to the personal characteristics which have typically been valued in project managers.
Name: Martin Skovgaard
Education: BSc in Finance and IT from the University of Southern Denmark.
Title: Product Director for requirement and test management
Martin has worked with testing and test management for the last twelve years. He has advised many of the largest Danish IT companies, primarily in the financial and telecommunications industries, and often with a focus on test processes and building test organizations. Before joining ProData Consult, Martin served as COO of TestHuset A/S.