Test from theTop


Project Management and Testing

The Project Manager has a high level view of the testing needs across the development life-cycle.

In my previous letter about building test-aware teams, I mentioned the importance of Project Managers. They have a key role in making testing work.

Project Managers are important! They don't get enough credit in my experience. Buy them a nice new stack of post-it notes to show your appreciation every once in a while.

Where does testing fit into each stage of development?

Organizations need to decide what they need. Some applications may need extensive testing across multiple platforms like mobile apps. Some companies have very sensitive data concerns that mandate security testing at every stage of development. A small startup may decide to optimize for only the most critical testing to produce their product as quickly as they can.

Whatever that ends up looking like, the Project Manager needs to remain conscious of those requirements. They will also either build time into each task for testing, or know when testing may not be necessary. In both instances, they should always defer to the technical leaders on each team to ultimately make the decision.

Project Managers keep testing concerns present in the project schedule.

Planning new development, or fixing old bugs or technical debt all require some amount of testing. That could be manual by a Quality Assurance or User Acceptance Team, or it could be automated by specialized Software Test Engineers or more commonly regular Software engineers.

Which group handles the testing for an individual task might be intuited by the Project Manager, but they need to leave that decision up to the teams themselves.

Facilitation of these test plans is crucial to getting testing done effectively. Without allocating time, your testing efforts will be in a constant state of panic, trying to keep up with development. This leads to poor and ineffective testing.

Any Software Engineer with experience will tell you that the most time consuming part of development is often testing it after primary development is complete. This drag can exponentially compound if testing isn't planned for properly. Make sure you have a Project Manager who knows how to incorporate testing into their process.

A Project Manager who is not test-aware will ignore the needs of testing, or assign testing tasks to the wrong group, potentially wasting days to confusion and lost work.

The solution is to hire the right Project Manager, one who understands testing and how to facilitate it. I realize this is easier said than done!

Hiring the wrong person can be an expensive mistake that takes years of productivity off the table. Hiring managers are aware of this risk.