Role of a QA Manager in an Agile Environment
A QA manager in an Agile environment takes on many critical functions and can be an irreplaceable team member.
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Perhaps every QA manager in an Agile environment faces the question of what their mission is. The difficulty lies in the fact that, unlike the Waterfall model where the role of each team member is clearly defined, flexible systems don’t provide a specific answer to this question. The success and usefulness of a QA manager depend on their ability to figure out their purpose in the Agile environment.
Peculiar Features of the Agile Project Development Model
If the Agile model is chosen for a project, the quality of the product is controlled by a team lead and testers who are part of this team, as well. The advantage of this approach is that team members become more result-oriented. QA is not carried out post factum but turns into a part of the development; changes are even suggested at the planning stage or during the process of the product creation.
However, together with the advantages described above, the system has one disadvantage: if the company used to follow the Waterfall approach, the transition to Agile will take time. Most developers and testers are narrow specialists. The work of each of these specialists is targeted at fulfilling their immediate tasks and is tied to a particular set of tools. They are not used to thinking about business factors in the code, let alone about working with a customer.
And this is where the QA manager comes into play. Unlike a tester, the QA manager knows how to and can make changes to the project before its completion. Managers who have skills in the latest tools and technologies, as well as understand the main QA trends, are especially in demand.
The Manager Creates Rules
One of the main tasks for any IT manager is to ensure a certain level of creative freedom and independence for the team but, at the same time, prepare them for responsibility for the results. The teams must work as a single organism. Like specialists in other areas, testers should create some internal rules.
These rules usually relate to the following aspects:
- Set of tools usedTMethods for identifying bugs
- Determination of the bug status
- A way of classifying builds
Professional QA managers interact with R&D specialists who work out the prospects for the company's technological development. These specialists also help to determine how to introduce new working methods in teams, conduct training, and measure progress. Thanks to this interaction, QA managers adjust the activities of each team so that the most promising methods and technologies are used in the process of product development.
Forming a team
Usually, in a testing team, there is someone specializing in UI, someone specializing in back-end, etc. And what is required from the manager is to have deep knowledge in all of the directions. The manager should be competent in both manual and automated testing so that they can coordinate the work of manual and automation specialists, if necessary.
Only a skillful QA manager can build a team that includes testers of all the required specialties. In addition, it is important to properly organize the interaction of testers with architects, as well as assign roles and responsibilities to them. Each specialist needs to be provided with everything necessary to fulfill the tasks assigned.
Determining Quality Indicators
The duties of the managers also include the determination of the metric values that will be used to assess the product quality during the development process. Among other things, it is important to prepare a classification for all possible defects, as well as to define the “highlight of the program” for each project, which will attract the attention of potential users. It is essential to determine the error ratio during retesting.
A successful QA manager knows that, along with the detailed fine-tuning of each testing direction, it is important to see the work of the team as a whole. A global vision of the situation is necessary for the timely redistribution of forces within the team. This makes it possible to assess the effectiveness of the specialists’ work and make changes to the general scheme, if needed. The result of the analysis may show that the reason for the low efficiency lies in the wrong testing methods or poor quality of the source code. The job of the QA manager is to bring the conditions into harmony for each team member.
A QA manager in an Agile environment takes on many critical functions and can be an irreplaceable team member. At the same time, not every tester or even every PM can become a good QA manager. Today, the demand for such specialists in the labor market exceeds the supply.
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