Are we Testers or QA Engineers?

This is one of the most charged discussions I’ve been in, and what makes it more annoying is the fact that it usually takes a political taste in many Organizations. In any case, I think I managed to understand the confusion and find my answer…

I was at SIGiST meeting this week in Tel Aviv, and among other things there was a presentation by a QA Manager from SAP who showed the Automation Harness they had developed in his team. Just a few words about the platform, it is pretty amazing (and this from the perspective of having managed the QA for QTP and QC in the past, and from working on PractiTest now).

In any case, in his introductory slide he said that he sees himself as a Test Manager and not a QA Manager, but that this was his formal title in SAP.
At the beginning it got me all fired up inside, since I do believe that in all the Organizations I worked so far I functioned as a QA Manager, and here was yet another person who limited our task and responsibility only to test execution.

Then as his presentation continued, I understood that he was right.
HE
really is a Test Manager, and his responsibility is to create and facilitate the tests that other people use and run in order to test their software. He does not perform the extra task of running the tests as part of a strategically designed project that provides visibility into the status of the AUT and its development process.

Eureka!
Apparently there are Test Managers, I am simply not one of them since I am also in charge of the QA.

For me testing is only a tool. I use it in order to fulfill my objective of providing visibility. This does not mean that I am solely in charge of the Quality of the Product, this is a task & responsibility shared by all the people involved in the development process; I am the Stakeholder in charge of understanding and communicating the Quality Level achieved by the AUT to my peers.

So here is the end of a very long question for me.

I am a QA Manager.

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2 Responses to Are we Testers or QA Engineers?

  1. Jim Hazen July 20, 2009 at 6:41 pm #

    My question to you is this; what are all the tasks you perform as part of your responsibilities as a QA Manager? What other areas besides Test do you manage?

    If all you manage is the testing function within your company then you are pretty much a Test Manager. Which isn’t a bad thing to be called that.

    In my book you would need to be also managing the other functions of QA in order to be called a QA Manager. You would need to be managing the SCM/Build process & group, Metrics, Audit, Standards & Procedures, Risk Managment and have influence on Project Management. Do all that, which is what QA does encompass, then you’re a QA Manager.

  2. Joel Montvelisky July 20, 2009 at 11:14 pm #

    Hey Jim,

    This is part of what I mean, in my team and the teams I currently consult with, I try to make people understand that we go way farther than simply running the tests and reporting on the steps. Our responsibility runs to other areas, part of which you also mentioned, such as Metrics, Process Visibility (some places simply don’t have audits!), Risks, etc; and obviously perform all this in order to have an influence on the Project Management team (or at least its function within the organization).

    Running tests is not something to be ashamed of, I just think that many of us have the opportunity to do more and we simply don’t step up to it.

    BTW, I hope the message does not go to the wrong place: I don’t care what my business card or job description reads (QA Manager, Test Manager, Guy in charge or shutting the lights when he leaves the building, etc…) it’s about the job and position we fulfill within our teams.

    -joel

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