A fully staffed Agile software development team consists of dedicated experts of different disciplines. There is usually a product manager, an Agile coach, multiple developers, an interaction and visual designer, and – last but not least – a software tester.
The software tester in the team usually has a challenging, yet critical role. Besides the tasks of defining test cases, executing tests, writing test automation or defining test data, this person is responsible for helping the team establish a quality mindset and making quality a whole team effort. Moreover, software testers have extensive knowledge both about the product being developed and the people using it afterward.
This combined knowledge of the software tester offers valuable insights to the product manager, who helps discover and define new products or features. For a product manager, establishing and maintaining a good relationship with software testers helps to build a thriving and productive work atmosphere. Here’s how you do it:
Be sparring partners and unlock full potential early in the process
Relationships are important. Especially in the context of a professional software development team, relationships are critical to establish a trusting, healthy and happy working environment. Everybody in a team should have a high interest in getting to know each other better from both a professional and personal point of view.
While positive relationships are key, the product manager and the software tester should also act as sparring partners and ask themselves the right questions when it comes to writing acceptance criteria and defining user stories. Before the product manager and the tester define the user stories together, it’s equally important to involve the team as early as possible in the product discovery phase. Software testers, in particular, tend to ask the really tough questions, in order to get the best out of the discovery phase.
Support technical work and quality thinking
The product manager usually defines the work of a team. In most cases, the team focuses on delivering features to the customers. However, software products also need architectural re-work as well as maintenance efforts. As part of this, the whole team – including software testers – should get the support of the product manager to invest time to work on such topics.
The technical work, including test automation, must always be a priority during the planning of product development, and the product manager must fully support the team in this. Test automation is often scoped out of a product release due to time sensitivity. However, it’s essential that quality measures are always in place, and the product manager must support and even encourage this. If a product manager denies such work, the product will suffer from poor quality and unhappy users in the long run.
Rely on and benefit from testers as your best backup
If the team has established a good relationship with each other and quality measures are part of the team’s DNA, a product manager can benefit even more from a software tester. The software tester is usually the final frontier before the customer will use your product.
Make sure the tester (or even better, the whole team) gets enough time to perform the final checks before pushing the code to the production environment. Once the product has been shipped, software testers usually check the feedback from users and provide this information to the team and the product manager.
A software tester is not only the final frontier before going live, this person can also be the substitute for the product manager in case of absence. As mentioned earlier, software testers are usually a domain or product expert and know most of the features in detail. This knowledge makes them a perfect substitute for the product manager. However, during such times the whole team needs to take over more testing tasks to support the software tester.
Are you ready to work on a better relationship?
If you are a product manager working together with software testers, these five keys will help you understand how you can improve your work relationship:
- Setup a healthy and trusting work environment to establish a relationship with everybody in the team, especially with the software tester.
- Involve the software tester early in the discovery phase to get really tough questions answered, which will help to improve the product quality from day 0.
- Work as sparring partners on product or feature definitions. Write the acceptance criteria together and improve the user stories with a quality mindset.
- Software testers might be the final frontier before going live in front of real customers. However, provide them with enough time to perform the last checks.
- Software testers are perfect substitutes for product managers, since they know the product well and have a high-quality mindset. They are your best backup.