9.2. Where You Fit: The Test Group in the Organization

With the scope of your job defined, let's place the test group in its organizational context. A number of possible organizational models can apply. Figure 9.1 shows one basic model for a test group, in which the test manager reports to the development manager. In this case, a lead test engineer typically manages the team. (Test groups tend to be small when they service a single development team.) This lead engineer communicates test results directly to the development manager.

Some people have reported success with this model, but I've seen—and heard of—too many problems where it's used. What's wrong with including the test organization in the development team? First, it is often difficult to preserve the notion of an independent test organization giving unbiased information to the project when the test manager reports to the development manager. It's too much to expect that managers will pursue an agenda contrary to their manager's interests—but this model requires that test managers do just that if they are to be independent in any sense. (In most situations I've seen, the development manager is held primarily accountable for the delivery of a particular set of functions within a predetermined time frame, which sets up a schedule-versus-quality tradeoff that tilts the field against the test organization.) Second, testing does not receive access to the resources it needs. The development manager is often forced to choose ...

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