A place for testers

Not a physical place - but an organizational place. Test #3 of the Test Test says that the test manager should be a peer of the development manager (rather than a subordinate). The reasons for this are clear, but if it isn't the case, how can you fix it? As a tester, how do you convince someone that the organizational structure is all wrong?

If you're in a test org where test reports to development, the first thing you need to do is figure out who you need to talk to. You may need to convince the test manager that the org structure is wrong. If you are the test manager, you may be able to open a discussion with your manager on the subject, but you may also have to skip a level or two. The presentation is critical. If you go to a high ranking manager and say "you know what - it's stupid that I report through a development organization - please fix it", it's probably not going to happen (same could be said for your career from this point forward). You need to make a case for the change. Some things you can do include:

Gather case studies from teams who have an org structure where development and test are peers. Even better if you can get information from a team who has moved from an organization such as yours to a peer reporting relationship.

Start gathering examples of where the current reporting structure has caused problems. Bonus points for all problems that are visible to the senior managers. Don't use the examples to blame anyone for problems, just begin to gather evidence that shows where a peer reporting structure could have caused problems.

Get a seat at the table: if you're the test manager reporting to a development manager, there is probably a lot of ship information you are either getting second hand, or not getting at all. You need to get yourself invited to some of the meetings where these decisions are getting made so that your voice can be heard (if you're not the test manager, talk to them and tell them to read this article). Getting involved in this way has two big benefits; one is that you know better what's going on, but more importantly, you get a chance to demonstrate for the big cheese what value in contributions and decision making you, as a test manager, have, and how influential your work can be for the products bottom line.

This is a lot of work, but definitely worth it. There's a great Roosevelt quote that would fit here - It will probably work well with all of the posts about the Test Test - I'll look it up for a future post.

Comments (3)
  1. Anu says:

    So, are there places inside MSFT where this happens? I’ve never seen this at all…maybe I’ve missed it.

  2. Alan Page says:

    Except for a few rare occassions in acquisitions, no, test doesn’t report to dev at MS. It’s more common outside MS though.

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