Managing the Test People was written for managers, leads, and people who may soon find themselves in a technical leadership position. It focuses on some of the unique problems in the software quality assurance profession, yet the bulk of the book is applicable to any technical management job. It provides practical advice for the novice and affirmation for the expert. It contains real world stories illustrating the concepts discussed in the text.
This book is written from a practitioner's viewpoint. The author has been in software management for over 20 years, working in a variety of companies, and has always been struck by the lack of practical, real world advice found only in general management books. Yes, all those methods should theoretically work, until you add in the politics of the environment, the technical work that must be done and, of course, those pesky people who seem intent on fouling up your plans. Managing the Test People is real - it's about the real world where there are real problems and real people, and it provides viable solutions that can actually be implemented.
Judy McKay has spent the last 20 years working in the high tech industry with particular focus on software quality assurance. She has managed departments encompassing all aspects of the software lifecycle including requirements design and analysis, software development, database design, software quality assurance, software testing, technical support, professional services, configuration management, technical publications, and software licensing. Her career has spanned across commercial software companies, aerospace, foreign-owned R&D, networking, and various Internet companies.
Judy has been conducting training seminars nationwide for seven years. Her informative courses are based on the real world application of practical data. Her courses cover the spectrum of software quality assurance, including creating and maintaining a world class quality assurance team, designing and implementing quality assurance and effective testing, and creating and implementing useful test documentation and metrics.
I got a free copy of this book from my local PerlMongers (http://madmongers.org/) group. It isn't the type of book I would normally read, but I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed it. The book is about how to manage a QA team, but succeeds in conveying a lot of advice and information about both management and QA in general. I'm neither in management nor in QA, but I found that the content provided me with a fresh perspective on both of those areas.
I found the author's writing style to be casual and witty yet informative and packed with detail. The only negative comment I have was that her overarching metaphor of the ideal QA organization as a "Perfect Beast" was awkward and repetitive.
Some good take-away quotes I found:
"You move from one project to the next; as soon as one project is past the crisis stage, you're on to planning the next one (the next project, not the next crisis!)"
"Even with a group of technically sound and diplomatic folks, there is sometimes the predisposition among developers to judge QA as evil."
McKay offers advice for how a new manager can comfortable with a department, whether that manager is hired from within or without. She offers advice on hiring, firing, giving raises and choosing project leads. She recommends tact and fairness about the seemingly innocent act of taking people to lunch. And, amusingly, she offers advice about dealing with a developer who insisting on working in the nude.
After reading some of her advice, I noticed that my own manager was doing a few of those things and it made me appreciate his efforts all the more. The book has also helped me understand some of the ways QA does their job: the goal is not to find bugs, but to thoroughly execute a test plan.
I am a 23 year veteran developer who got behind the technology curve and ended up in management. Having been self-employed, my people skills were pretty good, but, having been a loner for the most part, my management skills were nil. To the rescue was the book Managing the Test People. The Perfect Beast is the metaphor for an organization charged with testing developed software. The beast must be congenial on the outside and tenacious on the inside in order to accomplish its task. The book is concise yet thorough in the coverage of management topics related to creating and nurturing the beast. It has an easy reading style that makes it ideal for a management neophyte like myself and could easily apply to the management of any technical organization.