London software testing news UK

Managing testing people

Posted in Software testing by testing in London on September 17, 2007

From Dr Dobbs

The QA/Test vocation has finally started to come into its own if the number of books on the subject is any indication. For most of this year there have been at least one or two solid books released on the subject each month, the majority on test tools and techniques. What has been missing until now is a book aimed at people who manage and run QA departments. It is this void that Judy McKay’s Managing the Test People nicely fills.

Using the analogy of a QA group being a “perfect beast”, she walks readers through the creation, maintenance and even culling of her creature. At first I thought this approach a bit of a stretch, but it nicely ties the narrative together with chapter headings like “How to Build the Perfect Beast,” “Feeding the Perfect Beast,” and “Delousing the Perfect Beast.” It also makes for a more colourful read instead of, say, “Building a QA Team,” “Rewards,” or “Reducing Headcount.”

This beginning-to-end writing style is the strongest part of the book. The first chapter starts by asking how you, the manager, got there (promoted from within, inherited the department, starting the department) and explains the challenges and opportunities of each. The next three chapters deal with hiring people that will make you and your team successful from creating software testing job descriptions through interviewing and referral checking. The ramainder of the book follows a similar pattern, such as  project allocation and career growth of your team, areas where a painful learning curve can hide and one that can lead to an exodus of talent. The departure of team members is the subject of the last chapter and in 20 pages covers improvement plans, termination (with cause), and layoffs.

The book is titled “Managing the Test People” and yet from that point everything is in reference to the QA group/team; there is a distinction between the two and most of the target audience will see it.  If you have been running QA groups for awhile, then perhaps this is not the book for you. However, if you are new to the role or still not feeling comfortable in it yet, then Managing the Test People should be added to your bookshelf.

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