QA Manager Required Skills

What a QA manager does
What makes a good QA manager

What a QA manager does

  • Planning, prioritization of all the test-related tasks (use proven project management tools such as the V-Cycle or Scrum methodology)
  • Writing the test strategies
  • Reviewing the test plans
  • Taking the responsibility of certain designs if people have not the required competencies
  • Code reviewing
  • Spreading expertise and good usage of tools such as bug-tracking database or versioning systems
  • Delegating...
  • Having people judgment skills to hire the right people
  • Writing performance review

What makes a good QA Manager

Being a good QA engineer

Of course, a good QA Manager is first of all a good QA engineer. It requires additional skill, though.

Effective communication

A QA Manager must be an extremely good communicator. This includes:
  • Report global status and risk analysis to top management
  • Capability to communicate with technical and non-technical people
  • Having the diplomacy to say "no" when global quality is not acceptable for release
Part of the communication is also the not so well appreciated "meetings". Meetings are useful to a good organization, though.
  • For large teams, privilege:
    • Formal meetings
    • Scheduled and iterated on a regular basis
    • Production of agendas (pre-meeting) and minutes (post-meeting)
  • For small teams, privilege:
    • Stand-up meetings
    • Not necessarily planned
    • Agendas an minutes not necessarily needed

Having and spreading the "customer-focus" vision

To have the QA engineers efficient in their work, they must have the desire to see customers happy.

Developing people

Developing people in a QA team as in any team is essential. The main goal is to improve the learning curve and this can be achieved by:
  • Spreading best practises you've learn along your whole career as QA engineer/manager
  • Organizing trainings (external as well as internal)
  • Working in group to share competencies
  • Leaving some time to people to let them learn by themselves

Bringing out creativity in others

This can be achieved by:
  • Organizing brainstorm sessions on a regular basis
  • Discussing a lot with QA engineers to lead them to have the "idea" instead of exposing directly the idea (if you've got it before them). A good QA manager teaches the "way of thinking" before anything else
  • Explaining any decision you take so that the team get the intellectual process that led to that decision
  • Working in group

Motivating people

Motivating people is also necessary. To do that:
  • Be motivated yourself
  • Share your motivation to the others
  • Explain why QA is an interesting job:
    • Too often, people are reluctant to do QA because:
      "QA = finding problems = people (dev.) don't like me"
      The good way of seeing the job is:
      "QA = avoid future problems = people (dev./support/customers) like me"
    • The result of QA activities is immediately seen by the end-user which is quite valorising
    • Seeing a "manual operation" becoming a completely automated job is demonstrating how talented people can use machines to improve life
    • Thoroughly testing a feature A is often more complex than developing the feature A. It's then a challenging (so enhancive) task.

Team building

A "dream" team is a team where all people are technically very good in their job but also like to work together and appreciate each others. To improve the chances to have this happening, a QA manager shouldn't hesitate to:
  • Organize events (these do not necessarily require expensive activities!)
  • Have some chats together on the working hours about non-technical subjects when the whole team is present
  • Have QA people cooperating more with other teams (especially with Development team)
  • Have a beer together sometime ;)

Enabling changes

Changing for changing is a bad concept. Conversely, when something does not work, change is mandatory. The process of changing must go through 3 steps:
  • Making an audit to see what's wrong in the process (i.e. difficult to maintain very similar test scripts)
  • Determine with the team what has to be changed (i.e. setup data-driven testing)
  • Implement the change

Decision making

In QA manager there is "manager", which means that this includes making decisions.
  • Not being overwhelmed by stress
  • Not hesitating to recognize a mistake soon - it is much better than trying to workaround for years the issue
  • Taking innovative (or risky) initiatives
  • Not hesitating to change the processes at risk to destabilize some people if you think it is necessary

Books about Team Management

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Learn more about QA Engineer Skills reading the QA Engineer Skills tutorial.