It seems that these days, every development team claims to be on board with agile methods. After all, this technique has been proven to deliver impressive results with regard to team collaboration, development speed and defect reduction. It’s no surprise that developers want to highlight their expertise and experience with popular agile frameworks. However, not all managers live up to the bold claims of agile software testing methods, suggesting that many development teams still operate in an undefined manner, somewhere between waterfall and agile approaches – or, as some call it, “Agile-fall”. Managers who want to better understand how well they are doing with agile software testing and get ideas on ways to improve can benefit from asking themselves the following questions and being honest in their answers.
How does test management factor into agile?
From a top-down perspective, software project leaders will want to know what it takes to be the manager of an agile development team. It’s a simple question that has a complicated answer. According to Tom Roden and Ben Williams in an interview with InfoQ, agile methods do not have a traditional management structure, but are instead mostly driven and directed by the testers themselves.
This means that responsibility is spread out across the testing team at large, with individual testers having to communicate more openly and frequently with one another in order to keep things moving and hit the necessary milestones. There is indeed a need for managerial supervision and direction – it simply happens on the front lines, rather than in a conventional, hierarchical manner.
What is the true role of the agile software test manager?
Roden and Williams made it clear that the nature of software testing has changed in the age of agile, but where does this leave testing team leaders who are accustomed to performing managerial tasks and playing a leading role in these important phases? According to the experts, there are still a number of key objectives that these managers can strive for, even after making the agile transition.
“Our view is that this sort of role works across many teams, championing, curating and coaching testing as a function, whilst instilling a mindset and toolkit of practices and techniques,” stated Roden and Williams, according to the news source.
In other words, the manager turns into more of a coach and advisor, rather than a task master. Managers of agile testing teams need to be more supportive and assume the role of educator. While this may appear to be a reduction of responsibility, the opposite is true. Team members will likely be new to the concept of agile development and will be in constant need of support, advice and one-on-one coaching.
How do managers prepare for a shift to agile software testing?
Knowledge is power for managers getting ready to transition their teams to agile, and in their interview with InfoQ, Roden and Williams suggest that these leaders take the time to learn as much as possible about these methods before embarking on the journey. A close analysis of the existing methods and processes will also be necessary to discover weak points in the current approach and create a more targeted game plan for the transition.
“Finding the activities where teams still need support and specialist knowledge and enabling them to learn and develop those skills will be how the most successful test managers evolve into more useful organizational change agents and enablers,” continued Roden and Williams.
Every team will take a different route on its journey to agile development, but with these points in mind, they’ll be prepared to take on the challenge and to develop an agile approach that really works.