How to be a test manager with offshore & onshore resources

Test manager at Three, Victoria Bayes, reveals to TEST Magazine how she builds, manages and maintains the end-to-end test team comprising of both onshore and offshore resources.

Beginning her testing career seven years ago as a user expert, Bayes now manages a dual location team and is responsible for the test and automation strategy across the digital programme.

Accustomed to being a test manager of multiple projects and priorities in fast-paced environments, she is a firm believer in embedding quality assurance into deliveries as early as possible, with collaboration and honesty with stakeholders being key attributes to allow her team to be successful.

“I have been at Three for three years; working in the digital area and managing all test phases including integration systems, UAT, SIT, API, functional, live support, performance testing and taking control of the entire backend system which sits behind our Wuntu app,” says Bayes.

“I don’t test the app itself, that’s done by a separate scrum team. However, once it leaves the app and comes into the backend system I am accountable for the quality.”

A typical day as a test manager

For Bayes, a typical day in the office consists of managing 10 projects in various phases of the software delivery lifecycle (SDLC) and around six ad hoc change requests. She has a daily stand-up with all leads – checking where they are and if they need anything from her that day. Project meetings, stakeholder management, resource allocation and admin days also take place.

“I have a team of around 20 people, seven onshore in the UK office while the others are offshore in India. My key tip as a manager is to always be open and honest by being upfront about what can and can’t be achieved, with project managers and stakeholders, which are all onshore. As long as you’re open and honest about the risks that may occur, you will always get (at least) the quality you’re expecting,” says Bayes.

“Testers will obviously push to ensure they produce the best product they can but there are risks such as financial budgets and timescales which can get in the way. Nevertheless, I am really proud of my team. All problems that have been aligned we have been aware of unless it was outside of our control – such as a problem with the back-end server.”

Importance of team engagement

At Three, the software teams can be moved around. This allows them to be agile and flexible in terms of what they are working on. According to Bayes, it’s important to advocate the shift-left testing approach by getting her team engaged as soon as possible.

“Everyone knows defects are expensive to fix once in production,” adds Bayes. “It’s important to get my guys engaged in concept and not leave anything until the last minute – when things are too late to be fixed. This is why we moved away from waterfall to an agile method.”

At Three, they have weekly video meetings with all onshore and offshore colleagues. It’s important for colleagues to communicate face-to-face with each other to ensure a healthy work culture.

Offshore & onshore barriers

“Once a week, the offshore and onshore colleagues do PechaKucha, which is a Japanese presentation style where they make 20 slides about themselves on whatever they want – such as what they do outside of work and their favourite things.

“It’s important for them to know about one another, to get an understanding of what they’re all about. I do this to ensure those offshore are involved as much as possible,” says Bayes.

“Nevertheless, it can be difficult to build a team mentality with offshore clients. Confidence and language barriers can get in the way. Sometimes, you can’t beat being in the office listening to conversations. But, then again, it’s a plus that offshore clients don’t get disturbed and can crack on with their work. Offshore is also a large cost benefit, of course.”

Three have recently launched a large project, updating the backend for the Wuntu app. It has been a great, successful project for Three, despite it entailing a lot of back-end changes.

“Thankfully, I only needed to write one strategy for the Wuntu app,” says Bayes. “This allowed me to create an automation strategy and to review the team’s overall performance, as well as taking the business drivers and their change in ways of working – including industry and business changes, and customer needs,” she concludes, before adding a whimsical aside, noting that ‘onshore guys are typically more senior, while offshore guys are more tech-savvy’.

 

Further reading: What to expect as a first time release test manager

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