What Makes A Good Test Manager?

by Thijs Kok, on May 30, 2024

They come in all shapes and sizes, industries, and experience levels.

But no matter who they are, a strong Quality Assurance (QA) Manager is pivotal in ensuring the delivery of high-quality software products.

So what exactly makes for a good test manager?

While this can vary from project to project and company to company, we’ve compiled a list of the most common personality traits and qualities (😉) we’ve seen from surveys, articles, and forums that seem to set a good test manager apart from the rest.

Here’s our list of the top 7 qualities. Let us know what you think of our list and if you think we’re missing one.

7 Qualities That Make a Good Test Manager

Test managers need to call on a lot of different qualities and strengths throughout their day, some more than others. 

Here’s our list of those traits they need to call on the most:

1. Effective Communication

Software developers, testers, end users, and executive stakeholders don’t always speak the same language. And they also don’t have the same drivers, pressures, and perspectives.

That’s why we believe a hallmark of a good QA Manager is their ability to communicate effectively across all of these groups. From being able to effectively report project status and conduct risk analysis to bridging the gap between technical and non-technical individuals, QA managers need to weave in and out of each of these conversations multiple times a day. 

Perhaps most importantly, they need the ability to diplomatically say "no" when development standards are not met or hold a hard line when it comes to meeting a schedule.

2. Attention to Detail

Developers and end users each have their own nuances and requirements. Test managers need to understand them both.

That’s why having a detail-oriented QA Manager that is able to pay close attention to every aspect of the software development process to ensure that delivery is on schedule without missing a defect or due-date is critical.

Every day, these test managers hold the line to drive a quality-focused culture and a sound design, understanding that every detail matters in meeting customer expectations.

3. Big Picture Thinking

Beyond the minutiae of day-to-day testing or test script design, a good QA manager also knows how to think big. 

They know how to balance the need for quality with the demands of business drivers that are shaping the larger environment around a project, making decisions that align with the overall business strategy and communicating these elements with stakeholders. 

This ability to see the bigger picture ensures that daily quality efforts are aligned with the larger company objectives driving the project forward.

4. A Process-Oriented Mindset

A process-oriented approach is another unsung quality for QA managers because of the need to maintain timelines, including by streamline processes and improving testing efficiency. 

From test cycle to test cycle or project to project, the ability to identify and implement process improvements while maintaining a high standard of quality helps to keep projects on track and working more efficiently.

5. Creativity

With the strictness of test cases and the precision of reporting, creativity probably doesn’t sit top of mind when it comes to describing QA managers.

However, creativity is another essential quality for test managers, leveraged throughout each part of their day. From devising innovative input scenarios and uncovering edge cases that could potentially undermine a system to creating new ways to share updates with stakeholders, creative thinking is crucial throughout the development process.

6. Intellectual Curiosity

Intellectual curiosity drives QA Managers to stay ahead of the curve. 

This trait helps test managers proactively identify issues, risks, or required changes to a development project or stakeholder. This quality also applies in a more technical sense working with their technical and testing expertise to develop regression or experimental tests to ensure that the software remains robust and reliable, all while catching defects as early in the process as possible.

7. Mental Rigor

Last, but certainly not least, mental rigor is table stakes for a strong test manager. 

From the ability to create comprehensive test cases based on defined business and technical requirements to defining precision test schedules, test cases, and reports, test managers are quarterbacking the entire testing process. Add in additional stress from multiple testing cycles and tight deadlines and it is easy to see why mental rigor is foundational.

Take Your Testing from Good to Great

When a project has a strong test manager, teams just assume that every aspect of the software development process will always be meticulously planned, executed, and monitored for quality. 

But, the truth is that many test managers cannot do it alone; they have a secret weapon: a test management platform.

With a resource like TestMonitor, test managers can streamline testing workflows, collaborate with testers and stakeholders, automate repetitive tasks, and ensure their teams have what they need to evaluate quality.

Want to see how TestMonitor can take your QA to the next level? Contact us now and we will set your organization up with its own 14-day free trial

In the meantime, we also welcome you to watch our recent webinars to learn even more about the power of TestMonitor.

Want the latest news, tips and advice in next-level software testing? Subscribe to our blog!