I Transitioned From A Test Automation Manager to A Software Engineering Manager & Here’s What I’ve Learned… So Far

1. Delivery is paramount

Delivery has always been very important, but as a dev & delivery manager, the buck stops at you in terms of delivery. The mindset quickly shifts from the QA mindset of “let’s be careful and hold off” to a delivery mindset of “let’s get it out there and roll back if needed.”

I probably owe all those dev managers I gave a hard time in the past over what I considered unnecessarily aggressive prod deployments.

2. Having a QA perspective gives you an edge 

With the above being said, the fact you’ve been in the quality side of things gives you a well rounded view in terms of risk analysis. My ears are definitely more open to defects found in lower environments, and I’m always more cautious. Even if it’s just a bit.

In addition, you see the value and can drive a team quality mindset starting with unit testing, API level testing, and UI test automation. In addition, introducing performance testing and monitoring tools as well are part of your value add.

3. Owning the entire Software Delivery Cycle

At least in my particular instance, I’ve had to be responsible for the requirements refinement, development, testing, delivery and support of any particular product. That’s been a bit of a learning curve as previously I had essentially been responsible for 1 or 2 pieces of that. I’ve had to bring out my negotiation skills (with the business), utilize my product/business knowledge (A good QA manager should have this), draw up implementation plans for prod releases, and finally be ready to react at the first sign of a production issue. Pretty tasking, but strangely more rewarding.

4. Leaning On Experts 

The experts on your team are there for a reason. With a team of Scrum Masters, Product Engineers, SDETs, Developers, and SRE/DevOps engineers, my big takeaway has been — let the experts do what they do, and be there to remove impediments and stir the ship. While I might have more expertise in the SDET realm, I lean on others in my team when it comes to their areas of expertise. Definitely do not go into a team trying to be the know-it-all.

5. Managing Up Is Important

So far, I’ve only mentioned managing my team (down), and the business (parallel), however another big component is how you manage up. Your leaders will constantly look to you for estimates, updates on delivery, expectations, pushing back on aggressive timelines and the worst of all.. Why did this happen in prod?

It’s a lot different from the QA Management space where the buck ultimately doesn’t stop with you in terms of delivery or outages. Managing that has been interesting to say the least.

That’s about it. So far, so good. It’s been really rewarding making that transition and I’m really glad I made that transition. QA will always be part of me, and I’m always there to stand up for our SDETs and Testers.

I know it’s been a while since I posted anything on the blog, but it’s been a very interesting 6 months. It is a “positive” interesting.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Arinze.
    Thank you very much for the good article!
    It is giving me a piece of calmness, as I was promoted in Release manger role and I am very stressed and feel huge uncertainty.
    If you have some additional quick advises or documentation, or some learning links, please share with me. I will be very grateful.
    I really need to set up the good practicies in the very bebginning.
    Thank you so much and have a good luck!
    Best regards,
    Deyan Tsenov