Do test managers add value in agile settings?

Have you ever questioned your value as a manager in an agile setting? Agile is based around teams, so if you sit outside of that — how do you add value to your organisation?

This thought has been swimming in my head for over a year now and I was on the edge of taking a step back and rewinding back to a test engineer role. However, lately, there has been a switch in my head that has made me realise there is absolute value in test managers.

I read a very inspiring post by Esther Derby and in the comments she says,

“I actually see a much more strategic role for managers in studying and steering the system, establishing the conditions for teams to succeed, and creating capacity in the organization.” The article is here:

This was a comment that made me realise the type of work that managers take on around strategy and supporting the teams.

Some specific tasks that a manager can do:

  • A test manager can see where team members need a nudge to share learnings with another team.
  • A test manager can do strategic / process orientated work.
  • A test manager can study how the team is getting on and steer the team in the right direction.
  • A test manager can coach/mentor team members through any problems.
  • A test manager can support with career development.
  • A test manager can help with creating a culture of quality across an organisation.

As you can see there are many examples of the work that test managers take on.

So, with the rising of the whole team approach to quality — do we still add value?

I believe the answer is yes — as a manager you are still doing a different type of work by focusing on the strategy and seeing the big picture. Test managers also normally have a lot of testing experience under their belt, so that they can guide team members in quality matters.

Overall, this light bulb moment is a milestone in my career journey :)

Have you ever questioned your value as a manager in an agile setting? Let me know in the comments or message on twitter.



Software tester writing to process her thoughts and learnings.

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