Managing the Test People

Judy McKay

Publisher O'Reilly
ISBN 978-1-933952-12-3
RRP £28.50
Reviewed by Kawal Banga
Score 9.5 out of 10

Managing the Test People This book is aimed at anyone who is in a technical managerial or leadership role, and in particular, those just appointed into their first such role.

The book covers topics such as:

  • adapting yourself to your new position;
  • hiring staff (CVs, job descriptions, interviewing);
  • conducting performance appraisals, rewarding staff and training & development;
  • managing poor performance and letting staff go;
  • mapping and allocating people to projects;
  • communications (within and outside of team);
  • how to be an effective manager and leader.

Clearly, from this list you can see that the book does focus on HR or people issues. However, the author's background is SQA and testing, and the examples are all from this field. So this makes the book even more useful if you are a QA or Test manager/team Leader.

The author refers to the team and the team members as the 'beast' or 'beasts' (but not in a derogatory way). She states that testers need to have:

  • the enthusiasm of a dog's wagging tail;
  • the sharp eyes of an eagle;
  • the nose of a bloodhound;
  • the bravery of a lion;
  • the skin of a rhinoceros;
  • the empathy of a Labrador and;
  • the indifference of a cat.

The author claims that management is not easy (I agree); managing in a technical field requires additional skills (I agree); and managing in a testing organisation requires skills in addition to technical skills. I'm not sure that I agree with this last point, as I think that these are just a particular type of technical skills, and are perhaps no more difficult a set of technical skills than say managing a development team.

The book is well laid out, easy to read and provides very useful guidance.

Although the book is aimed at managers and leaders of technical teams, it is also useful to non technical managers and leads.

Furthermore, the suggestion is that the book is for those who have just moved into a technical managerial or lead position, but it would also be very useful for those aspiring to be a technical manager or lead, and to some extent, those who already have some experience in this area.

This book has an unfortunate title. I suspect it will only attract readers who are interested in testing or software quality assurance (SQA), and this would be shame. The sub-title of the book 'A Guide to Practical Technical Management' should perhaps have been the main title with 'Managing the Test People' as the sub-title.

A title such as 'Recruiting, Growing and Managing a Technical Team' would perhaps have been more appropriate, as this is the subject matter of the book, albeit being based around the SQA or testing profession.

This, and the fact that £28.50 seems a bit expensive for only 180 pages, meant that I gave the book only 9.5 out of 10, rather than ten out of ten. Having said this, it is an excellent book, and well worth purchasing.

Further information: Rocky Nook