I was at a seminar a couple of weeks ago. The speaker was Janet Gregory. It was a magnificent session, but one thing startled me. Janet claimed that the test manager as we know him/her will be gone in a few years, at least if everyone embraced agile development. Do I agree? Not entirely, but I agree that we need to change the way we act.
I have a theory; there are 2 kinds of people, "I" people and "T" people.
"I" people are people who almost stubbornly cling to their role; "My contract states that I was hired as a test manager and therefore that is solely what I'll do", whereas "T" people will go beyond their role to make the project succeed, they will help where ever they can. The issue here is that not all people are "T" people, and among testers and test managers I will argue that there are significantly more "I" then "T" people, which is a challenge. We need to broaden our minds, we need to embrace the world around us.
But isn't that what we have tried not to do for several years now, by becoming ISTQB certified, to show the world that testing is a carreer path? To some extend yes, but that doesn't mean we have to dig trenches and defend our newly gained professionalism stubbornly!
So will test managers be obsolete in a few years if all projects suddenly went agile? No. But we need to change. And knowing that not all people can (or will!) change, that is where I see our chance. We as test managers are perfect bridge builders between business, test and development. A test manager should be able to speak all 3 languages, and therefore be the person who ensures quality throughout the project.
Actually as I see it, we will in this way get even closer to the ideal world where a project manager and a test manager is at the same level in the hierarchy.
So be ready to chance, the storm is coming! Time to build windmills, not shelters!