How To Go From Manager To Competitive Quality Assurance Tester

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It may seem like a challenge to go from managing projects and teams to a technical career such as testing. It truth, the change can be rather simple. If you have a support system in the company you work for, or if you are starting over in another, you need to prepare yourself for this transition. There are certain steps you can take to make it easier. Once you have done that your new adventure will start.

Qualifying questions

The main questions are:

1.  How do you know if you’ll be the right fit for this role?

2.  What are the benefits of your current managerial experience?

Let’s start with the first question.

To be a tester you need to have a curiosity that usually comes naturally to people in this line of business. You want to know about products and what “makes them run“, you are interested in how everything works or functions, you always find bugs in apps or programs you are already using. These are pretty good signs you have a talent for testing. Depending on where you want to arrive and what you want to achieve, self-education is very important. Investing in training, reading articles, participating in webinars gives you insights into ways of working, processes, methods, and types of testing across the globe. Investing a fair amount of time in preparation could make initial testing projects much easier, especially if you work in a team. You’ll be prepared with the terminology and operating processes which will make the onboarding faster and more efficient. Testing per se, is a practice. The more you put your hands on it, the quicker you’ll learn.

Following the technical specifications, design, wireframes and all other necessary documentation you’ll learn how to test, what to test, and how should the final product function.

Managerial experience

The interesting question is what benefits can you bring to the table in testing as the former manager. First of all, client management and communication skills are key. Depending on the project and in testing role you could probably participate in client communication and support. This refers to clarifying all the points of product build, shared testing processes, and user acceptance testing when aligned on. 

The managerial experience also brings a deeper understanding of internal processes, connections, and dependencies between departments and an easier understanding of high-level decisions. By having both perspectives, you’ll be able to understand and give valid input when discussing the volume of the work, budgets, and timelines. 

This is when your matured bigger picture vision comes into play. Obstacles and risks could be easier to foresee as you can grasp all parts of projects from beginning to end especially if you’ll need to negotiate with a client, support him when new ways of working are required and lead him through the process. Moreover, you will find yourself in a unique position bringing to “your teams’ table“ something that your other colleagues may not have in their background. A large number of testers started directly in this filed or they have switched from development. They probably did not have a chance to develop skills that you already have.

Managers usually come from a firm and rather strict ways of working that follows a Waterfall model. In the waterfall model, project activities match sequential phases, where each phase depends on the deliverables of the previous one while the newer agile ways of working are quite different. It is important to recognize that a large number of agencies already work in some form of agile or they are transitioning to one while a large number of clients still use the „old“ system. Knowing how both of them work gives you a strength that you will probably need in the future.

If the company is still transitioning to agile your skills could make the entire process simpler. As a manager and a tester, you could  help educate other managers on how to be agile, how to lead clients and help them make the same transition in their respective fields. You speak their language in the form of costs, efficiency, ROI and delivery deadlines. It is simply not enough to have a development and testing team working in agile. All departments must be in sync for agile to work. 

As you’ve probably figured out putting together old and new systems can be quite a challenge. The managerial experience could help you to pinpoint all the benefits of refined processes such as increased delivery, improvement in customer experience, and high-quality end products.

It suffices to say that transitioning from management to testing has many perks. A manager can offer many skills in the role of a tester. So, if a career in technology and testing inspires you – go for it. You’ll learn, adapt and explore not only products, but other parts of yourself as well.

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