Over the last year I have looking to work myself out of the test manager role and into a more advisory role. And by April 2021 I was given the formal title change from Senior Test Manager to Senior Advisory Consultant.
I have had the title “Test manager” probably since 2008, so it’s been a while. In the companies, where I have been employed, the Test manager title has never been with line management (hire/fire). Rather it has been similar to a project manager, with a focus on the testing deliveries of a project, release or program.
I will still be leading test activities, but my role for the future will be more about enabling someone else doing the testing or someone else having a testing problem to solve. There are plenty of test activities done by people in non-testing roles – it’s the activity that matters.
I wrote in “Something about leadership” what I see in the new title:
- Assisting delivery teams on test activities and models of quality
- Assisting delivery managers on test automation strategies
- Advising heads of IT and sales executives on the strategic approaches to test automation
It turns out the company I work for (a 3000+ IT outsourcing shop) already have people with the new title and already have people doing similarly as me in other domains. So there is actually a job description with some of these activities:
Thought leadership, strategy and execution
Contributing to continuously developing our services and propositions
Sales activities and pipeline management
Consulting and customer engagement
Analyses complex issues and improves methods, concepts, techniques or processes
Being relevant and drive customer relations as trusted advisor at C-level or just belowFrom “Senior Advisory Consultant Job Description”, 2021
The Usual Career Paths
Career paths for testing specialist usually looks into testers, test engineers / automation specialists and the more coordinating roles (test managers, test coordinators). I wrote about that previously and similarly there is an article on “Navigating A Career Path In Software Testing” on the Ministry of Testing.
Besides the classic “levels” of junior and senior, I do see “Staff” (similar to Staff Engineer) or “Principal” as talked about by Jit Gosai in “What is a Principal Tester“. So in the testing space there are plenty of promotions to make and roles to play.
Some people take the coordinating role to move into either scrum masters or line managers (test leads, delivery managers etc). Though, those two titles are careers in their own right. Being a line manager or engineering manager is both about the staff but also about making the organisational numbers… and politics.
A Career path for Coaching and Advising
But there is also a more advisory and coaching career path – as I discussed in “Less Test Managers, More Test Coaches“. I have seen them labelled differently out there as: Test Coach, Test Owner or Quality Coach.
I do see some similarities to my new title and both the staff roles above and the more coaching specific roles. They align fine with being enabling roles in the Team Topology sense. The difference is probably on level the roles play. My role will (also) address delivery managers and some C-suite (or just below) – while other coaching roles are (mostly) for the delivery team. Let’s see how it plays out.