QA Revolution

Role of Agile QA Manager

QA Agile Manager

If you are an Agile QA Manager your role has probably changed a good bit from the more traditional Waterfall methodology.  It certainly requires a bit adjustment, but if you are able to make the transition, it will certainly help ensure your organization delivers high quality software.  Chances are your involvement will change and it will require a different mindset and approach.  Here are a few items that will make an Agile QA Manager successful:

  1. Documentation: Certainly this is a huge change from waterfall.  In typical waterfall the documentation is a lot heavier and that includes requirements, test plans, and design documents.  Documentation is important and contrary to what you might hear, it is still an important aspect of Agile.  I still encourage my team to create a small requirement document for each story and that really helps the QA testers.  For QA, I encourage creating a 1 page QA test plan and that helps development and product owners understand what is tested and ensures everyone is on the same page.  In terms of QA sign off, I simply require an email stating that QA has signed of on the story and release.  As an Agile QA Manager, I encourage you to keep things simple and lean especially around the documentation.
  2. Collaboration: Collaboration within Agile is extremely important and it is one of the most important elements of having a high quality product.  It is important for the QA tester to work hand in hand with the BA, Developers, and other QA resources.  Collaboration helps to get the best information and gain a solid understanding of the product in order to be able to test the application more effectively.  Where possible, I encourage the QA resources to sit with the other members of the Agile team.
  3. Automation:  It is important for automation to occur, but it needs to be done efficiently.  Maintaining automation test scripts is expensive so it is important for the Agile QA Manager to take a very close look at the amount of automation in place.  I have found that the automation is most effectively done by dedicated automation resources and I have set them up as a separate team.  Many teams have the QA engineer perform both functional and automated testing, but I have found that when push comes to shove, the automation takes a back seat and isn’t a priority.
  4. Performance:  Performance testing is important and needed.  There might be applications that need more performance testing than others, so a one size fits all model doesn’t necessarily work.  This is where the experience of the Agile QA Manager comes into play, so if you think it is needed, then certainly the effort must be there.  I have also setup a small team of performance engineers that sit outside the agile team and that has worked well for me.
  5. Level of Involvement: It is important to know what the QA engineers are doing and what is being tested however sometimes it is important to take a back seat not necessary get involved in the nuts and bolts of the daily activities.  Chances are high that you will get involved when there are escalations and issues.
  6. Champion of Quality: While it is true within Agile that Quality is the teams responsibility, you need to ensure that across the organization, you are personally involved in helping to build quality.  Things like documentation and testing are important and should be consistent across all the agile teams.  The better information your team has, the chances are higher they will find the issues before they hit production.
  7. Metrics:  As an Agile QA Manager, metrics are your best friend.  It will help you pinpoint when there are issues and help prevent production disasters.  I encourage you to place a strong emphasis on metrics so you base your decisions of quality versus gut feel.

I hope this information has been helpful and I encourage you to closely take a look at all of these items so you can become a more effective Agile QA Manager.

If you are looking for more additional information on Agile roles you can find additional information here:

Role of an Agile Development Manager

Role of an Agile QA Engineer

Role of an Agile Business Analyst

Ron Wilson