Creating a Test Management Super Class Torbjörn Ryber

First of all. I am honored to be invited as a guest writer at the testeye! I will start my contribution by asking for your assistance.

In the next year I have been asked to give a couple of classes for test managers that are fairly new in their role. I have been looking through the content description of a class I am supposed to take over and realize that I have a problem. So much of it seems to be picked from an ISTQB-class and just seem to be cementing the old ways of testing. I refuse to spend half a day talking about eight ways of measuring test which means measuring quality and is based on test case success ratio. And I am not going to dive into standards too much either.

So what am I going to put in a two day class for new test managers? These are some of the more important subjects I want to talk about.

  1. Schools of testing: a test manager needs to understand that there are some fundamentally different ways that testing can be done. Since many of the students will be working as consultants they need to be prepared for the many different company approaches they may encounter.
  2. Test Strategy: What is the testers’ mission. How do I plan my resources and my tasks. Time estimation. What do I need to know to do a good job. What kind of documentation should we create? When am I done testing?
  3. Communication: How do I as test manager communicate with the rest of the project and within my team. This includes giving and receiving feedback, basics of presentation techniques, maybe a bit of Myers-Briggs model
  4. Explaining test to non-testers: Why are we not QA, why does it take so much time? Why do developers need to test as well. What is our goal as testers. What responsibilities do we NOT assume.
  5. Managing a group of testers: Is it like being a project manager with testing skills? Important management principles: avoiding micro-management, coaching your staff, manager = problem remover, administrative tasks you need to do. Session-based test management
  6. Effective bug management: templates, process, content, bug advocacy
  7. Career plan for TM: what to read, what to do

So, fellow testers. What would be the three most important things YOU want to see in a test management class? Maybe the three things you wish they had told you before you agreed to your first job as a test manager.

And I have this great idea as well. What if we skilled context-driven testers together created some really good material for a test management class and made that material free to use for everyone? Like the BBST-class.  I really believe in sharing which is why my test design book in Swedish is available for free download at Maybe it´s time to make the English version downloadable from thetesteye?



Fredrik Liljegren May 24th, 2010

Now this sounds like a class I’d like to attend! Just make sure to bring it to Gothenburg as well.

Rikard Edgren May 24th, 2010

Understanding software testing is the number one important thing (and I guess that’s the scope of the whole class)
A test manager will be involved in discussions and decisions, and if she/he doesn’t understand software testing, things can go very wrong.

Besides what you have listed, I think you should talk about the complexity of software quality; where knowing about the many kinds of quality characteristics is useful.
And the complexity of software testing: it’s not possible, like in manufacturing, to plan in advance exactly what to do, and then follow the plan.
You need to use creativity, and also rely on serendipity; a good tester finds a lot of stuff they weren’t looking for; automated tests don’t do this.
The managers don’t need to know about how to perform different approaches/techniques, but they should be aware of the most common, and know that it is good to use several.

Sounds wise to skip the measurement/metrics focus, but you should probably talk about the danger of metrics.
I guess hiring testers is the most important decision they might make; not sure if you want that to be part of the scope.

I’d be happy to at least give feedback on a publically available Test Manager Super Class.

K May 24th, 2010

The list of topics sound quite interesting. 🙂 I was curious about the book but it’s too bad I don’t understand Swedish. I do hope an English version would push through.

Martin Jansson May 24th, 2010

Great choice of starter article.

I think you should not limit the class to Software Test Management, but instead have it towards Test Management whatever they are thing they are testing in the organization. Instead of talking about Software Quality, I promote you to talk about the complexity of Quality, naturally mention all the various definitions that is “out there”.

A few things that I mention in is important for a Test Manager, like you point out the School of Testing.

It is very important to talk about Test Approaches, why not bring up the polarities in Scripted vs Exploratory Test Approach. What effect it has on management? What legacy it has and what changes in mindsets that might be needed.

It is interesting to talk about the role of the test organization, perhaps talking about QA as in Quality Assistance, an Intelligence agency, a Service organisation… and what all these includes.

Would it be possible to infact say that it is a Test Management class with an Exploratory Test Approach. Cause it would be more specialized and perhaps something that really need to be taught more. RST for Managers would probably have that in focus.

Organization within testing is also interesting. Do you have a resource pool, one test team with one test lead, one test team with many test leads or ever changing teams and leads? How do you organize the team and who decides how to organize it in what way? How far should the test manager role decide in this?

Progress and reporting is an ever so important topic that most test managers would come across. When is testing done? How important is test documentation and how important is accountability in this?

The test life cycle would be interesting to have as a laboration. Roleplaying in the group when taking on the roles of project manager, tester, test lead, CEO and so on. What part does the Test Manager play?

Prompting for the manager to test with his/her testers is a good way to understand their world, something that I think essential for any test manager.

I guess it is hard to stick to a 2 day course. I am willing to assist in the definition if you need it. I am very interested in this area.

Henrik Emilsson May 25th, 2010

Something not already mentioned is the importance of Software Testing being a Social Science

Bullet 4: “Explaining test to non-testers” could be expanded with “and testers”.

Regarding Bullet 2: “Test Strategy”, it would also be good to learn about how to setup information objectives derived from project objectives and stakeholder needs; and how to communicate these; and how to use them as guidance in the test effort.

How to maintain and develop a creative environment in the test group. How to train and inspire testers to become more creative and creative thinkers.

Henrik Emilsson May 26th, 2010

I forgot to mention that I am interested in participating in developing a course!

Torbjörn Ryber May 27th, 2010

Thnks for all the comments. Let me clarify the scope of the class. The intended audience will be working as test managers for projects. And the goal is to help them manage the testers and communicate testing.

Another scope that would be interesting to cover uin another class is TEst manager at a company when your goal is to build a functioning test team and communicate testing with the whole company. This requires some additional skills.

For now I would like to focus on the first paragraph. I am currently listing more in detail the subjects I want to talk about and have all of your comments in mind.