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Management aspects of testing

Validation and Verification

Management aspects of testing : Often Testing is a hassle topic. Time is short. The number of unmanageable tests, review and analysis is high. Employees are not really motivating for the subject. The technical resources are not sufficient. In the opinion of management, the expected result is already predetermined: no mistakes! Do you know this situation or something similar? As a test manager in such a project it is not easy to handle these situations. This blog discusses Management Aspects of Validation and Verification?

Is it possible to fun in a testing job?

Nevertheless, in order to keep the fun, you should change your viewpoint. What do you think of the following perspective on a Validation and Verification project?

  • How can you make the most of the situation?
  • Which pragmatic strategy approach makes sense for your situation?
  • What do we need to achieve the minimum goal?
  • What has to be done, if these minimum targets can not be reached?

Keep in mind, this sort of approach to validation and verification projects works not only for the uncritical average project. A pragmatic and pro-active strategy and management approaches are the most successful ones also in safety-critical and highly regulated projects.
However, many people confuse permitted pragmatism with not permitted cronyism, especially in the projects in which outsiders (authorities, Audi adapt, etc.) assess the validation and verification activities. In addition, pragmatic approaches are only successful if the project members do have sufficient experience to be able to juice the right pragmatic approach. Only those who have an issue comprehensively understood and penetrated, are in a position to weight between individual actions and processes and to choose the appropriate solutions for the situation – just act pragmatically.
The proactive management approach often precludes the human characteristic that then often must be dealt with unpleasant truths already at early point in times in the project. Many people don’t like this kind of management. The daily work is continuously rolling and solving problems. Most problems can be solved in a pro-active approach, but there is hardly a day when you do not work on at least one problem.
The other approach means that you can, as a manager, report good news about the project progress, the strategy applied etc. for a long time in the project. For good news there is finally also praise and recognition. For whom this situation is not attractive?

In the situation just described, the test manager in most projects is understood rather as a rapporteur on the project’s progress and less than manager.
However, experience shows, that the fun only reserves, if the manager is able to act in a
pragmatic and pro-active way, rather than a rapporteur.

What does this mean in practise?

The first consequence of the above points is that a test manager should bring several years of experience. If that is not possible, at least one technical management experienced person should be available to consult the test manager.
The first task of the (new) Test Manager is to be aware of the critical success goals (target state) of the project. Depending on the project and sector these are of course different points. For example, the inspection authorities are in a highly regulated market such as aviation or rail an absolutely mission-critical stakeholder in the project. By contrast, the timing of the launch of a smartphones is an absolutely critical point for the market success. Authorities to check the functional safety, do not play role in such an environment. In the automotive sector, the start of production for the car is absolutely crucial to success. Without this deadline the business case is mostly obsolete. If you are a Test Manager at a supplier in a given industry, it is important to understand the basic boundary conditions of success for the industry. They are immutable and have influence on one way or another to the own test project. Of course, there are also still many more project-specific points that must be considered.
In a second step, a thorough analysis of the actual project situation must be done. This analysis may, of course, have repercussions on the specified mission-critical objectives of the project. Here are a few important questions:

  • What is the current status of the project (What’s already done; What needs to be done)?
  • Who are the major stakeholders in the project (client, authorities, managers, developers, etc.)?
  • What are the biggest challenges (budget, time, quality)?

It should be noted that the active communication from face to face is at least equivalent to the study of documents. In most cases, the communication is preferable.
In the third step, the test manager must now develop a strategy that takes him from the actual analysis to target state. The promising validation and verification strategies are varying as there are different projects and sectors.
It should also be mentioned that also the task of implementing the chosen strategy, and project status to be monitored.

Conclusion: Management aspects of testing

Without pragmatism and proactive management it will be very difficult, to operate as a test manager successfully and sustainably.
In addition, a test manager should be a very good communicator and come along with a lot of experience.

Good professional skills complete the profile.

Related HEICON Blog posts

I’ll be glad to help you also with any specific questions about your project, concerning Management aspects of testing. Send an email to: martin.heininger [at] heicon-ulm.de
An overview of the services can also be found on the HEICON Homepage.

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