What kind of engineers work manually
What does a test manager do?
Test managers work on apps, intelligent production and the Internet of Things. They test software that engineers will later work with. As Head of Software Quality and Test Consulting, Alexandra Schladebeck is in charge of quality management at Bredex GmbH in Braunschweig. Here she explains what a good test manager must be able to do.
The linguist Alexandra Schladebeck herself worked as a test manager. Today she is hiring test managers.
Photo: Bredex GmbH
ingenieur.de: Ms. Schladebeck, you used to work as a test manager yourself. What is everyday work like in this job?
Alexandra Schladebeck: That differs depending on the project. The most important thing, however, is to assume an interface position from which the test manager communicates with the project management, other testers, the developers and the customer. And not just when the development is almost complete. Then the test manager can only determine that there are quality problems. Problems can only be solved early and reliably if testing is firmly integrated into the development process.
How can you concretely imagine that? Is there someone sitting there and manually running through every function of the application?
That is also part of it, yes. But you should define in the test strategy which tests are carried out manually and which are automated. Depending on the project, methods and techniques must be selected and applied. A systematic approach is necessary for professional tests - whether they are carried out manually or automatically. However, it will never be possible to automate everything, because that assumes that the team has always thought of every eventuality in advance. But there will always be cases that have not been considered.
What projects does a test manager usually work on?
This can be any application from the app to complex enterprise software. The Internet of Things with its communicating machines also needs tests. Quality is becoming more important everywhere. Not only because people come into contact with software in more and more situations. The younger generation in particular is growing up with their own ideas of what an application must be able to do. If it does not do that, it will quickly be discarded.
What does this mean for test management?
That we have to keep very different criteria in mind. With a simple smartphone app, it might be functionality and speed, with an airplane, safety, and when it comes to self-driving automobiles, ethics even come into play. A good test manager must always put quality above everything else.
Testing not only includes the question of whether the application is doing everything right, but also whether it is doing the right thing. To put it bluntly: What use is the correct weather forecast when I'm actually looking for fashion? Here again, close coordination with the customer is necessary.
How do you even become a test manager?
There is no degree and no regulated training for this. This is at the expense of acceptance, but also allows freedom. We are looking for academics from very different fields. With a business IT specialist or engineer, you know that he is interested in technology. A lateral entry as a biologist, sociologist or business economist is also conceivable. I myself am originally a linguist.
It is important that someone can think and work in a structured manner, is creative and curious and communicates excellently.
And so a newcomer can start testing right away?But no. With us, a prospective test manager learns the basics in the first six months. How do I set up an automation? What do possible structures look like? How do I proceed? How do I communicate and how does exploratory testing work? There are certificates and accreditations for this. At the same time, a candidate accompanies a real project as quickly as possible. This mixture of theory and practice has proven itself for us.
How do you rate the career prospects for test managers?
The prospects are certainly good. The automotive industry, aviation, medical technology, logistics, banking and insurance - all industries in which software is used require test managers.
The job description may change, but I don't see the risk that it will fall victim to automation. After all, a tester's most valuable tool is his mind. You can only automate what someone has previously recognized as a risk. In addition, there will always have to be someone who mediates between development, project management and customers.
And how could things go on outside of quality management for a software tester?
He can switch to requirements management, work as a release manager or develop into an agile coach. A test manager with professional experience has learned and noticed so much that many doors are open to him.
When you bring a new test manager into your team today, what do you personally pay attention to the most?
On his communication skills. Methodology and specialist knowledge can be learned. But the ability to address a mistake, follow up on it and know when not to let go and when to give in is essential. The passion for IT must of course also be present.
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