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REVIEW: "Managing the Test People", Judy McKay

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Han
    BKMNTSPL.RVW 20071115 Managing the Test People , Judy McKay, 2007, 978-1-933952-12-3, U$39.95 %A Judy McKay %C 26 West Mission St, Suite 3, Santa
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 22, 2008
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      BKMNTSPL.RVW 20071115

      "Managing the Test People", Judy McKay, 2007, 978-1-933952-12-3,
      %A Judy McKay
      %C 26 West Mission St, Suite 3, Santa Barbara, CA 93101-2432
      %D 2007
      %G 1-933952-12-1 978-1-933952-12-3
      %I Rocky Nook Inc.
      %O U$39.95 805-687-8727 fax 805-687-2204 joan@...
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1933952121/robsladesinterne
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/1933952121/robsladesin03-20
      %O Audience i- Tech 1 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
      %P 180 p.
      %T "Managing the Test People"

      In the preface, McKay states that the book is intended for those who
      may soon be commencing leadership positions in technology. The
      introduction is a bit more specific in this regard, asserting that the
      text is meant to assist newly commissioned managers in determining how
      to succeed as a manager in a technical environment, and particularly
      in a lead role within the testing team.

      Chapter one is an animal-oriented (and somewhat strained) metaphor
      about a variety of qualities necessary in the test team. The initial
      activities of someone new to quality assurance testing are outlined in
      chapter two. The content on interview questions for hiring, in
      chapter three, is good, but the advice about resume selection is more
      appropriate to administrative jobs. Chapter four starts out with more
      material on job descriptions, but then devolves into a long, generic
      discussion of having the proper "mix" of people on the team.
      Integrating and interoperating with the rest of the enterprise is the
      topic of chapter five. Chapter six looks at communications and some
      team organizational structures. Quality assurance is seen, like all
      aspects of security in relation to corporate operations, as requisite
      to the task of development but a problem and a hindrance rather than a
      benefit, and chapter seven tries to examine ways to deal with the
      issues of morale that this perception may create for the workers.
      (Most of the suggestions have more to do with preventing people from
      falling into despair than with building enthusiasm and team spirit.)
      Chapter eight is supposedly about leadership, but then so is the book:
      the material appears to be a catch-all that the author can use for any
      items that don't seem to fit anywhere else. Performance evaluations
      are mentioned in chapter nine. The discussion of remuneration and
      recognition, in chapter ten, comprises lots of stories, but little
      material that is useful or helpful. Staff training and development
      gets an astonishingly short treatment in chapter eleven. Stories of
      firing and termination make up chapter twelve, but the examination of
      the topics, while containing useful points, is quite ordinary.
      Chapter thirteen seems to be intended as a recap of the work, but the
      points don't follow the organization of the book.

      The structure of the text is clear, and the writing is easy enough to
      read. However, a great deal of material that could have been included
      is missing, that would have provided much more utility and assistance
      to new managers. There is, for example, no advice on the different
      types of (organizational) files or other administrative tools. I
      particularly missed the inclusion of that content in regard to
      discussions of planning, performance, and termination: it is vital to
      make quick memoranda all the time, and have repositories for those
      notes that will bring them back to your attention at the appropriate
      times. I found the formatting of the text annoying: the highest level
      of header is printed in the smallest font.

      McKay has written an interesting book about leadership, and it does
      contain points that can be useful for new managers, but it not at the
      level of works such as "The Art of Project Management" (cf.
      BKARPRMA.RVW) by Scott Berkun (which is also aimed at the neophyte).
      Brown's "Technimanagement" (cf. BKTCHNMN.RVW), Stellman and Greene's
      "Applied Software Project Management" (cf. BKAPSWPM.RVW), or Kyle's
      painless "Making It Happen" (cf. BKMAKHAP.RVW) are all solid advice
      aimed at the technical manager. In terms of a complete and practical
      (though specialized) guide, one might turn to a model such as
      Sennewald's excellent "Effective Security Management" (cf.
      BKEFSCMN.RVW). For specific tasks there are works like Limoncelli's
      "Time Management for System Administrators" (cf. BKTMFRSA.RVW).
      McKay's book is only able to approach the quality of vague and generic
      attempts such as Rothman and Derby's "Behind Closed Doors" (cf.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2007 BKMNTSPL.RVW 20071115

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