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The Test Manager of the Future

Steve De Smet
December 14, 2023

Although our world is constantly in motion, a few things in life are certain:

  • Death
  • Taxes
  • A new FIFA football game every year
  • Every so often, big news on ‘The [insert role here] of the future!’

The IT landscape has been in constant evolution for the past decades, but it seems to have hit an acceleration point with the advent of Generative AI and LLM’s. We are going from ‘Tool B can do it 20% faster than tool A’ to ‘This tool will completely transform our workforce and business processes’. With such a potential shock to the system, it is only logical the role of TM evolves as well.

In traditional projects, the test manager would usually fulfill the role of ‘PM of testing’. The TM would need to come up with estimates, create a WBS, set up a planning, create a test strategy, make sure the right people are staffed, and report on progress, defects, and status.

I predict that in the not-so-far future, a well-rounded TM will be wearing new, multiple hats simultaneously:

The AI Analyst: Good TMs understand how AI and LLMs work, how to take advantage of them, and know where the pitfalls are. They can clearly communicate this to the team and the organisation and adapt their QA strategy accordingly. They know where, when, and how to (not) use AI on their projects.

The Tech Spotter: With constant evolution in technology breakthroughs, TM’s keep their eyes on the latest developments. They can sift through the hype and see the added value a new tool or technology could bring to their project or organisation. They understand the potential of some innovations and are quick to adopt.

The People Coach: As not everyone will be as quick to adopt new innovations, a good TM has the people skills to inspire their team and bring them along in all changes. They coach their team and provide guidance on how to optimize their work. TM’s have a deep understanding of their team and adapt their coaching style to the different individual personalities.

The Green Guru: With sustainability on every boardroom agenda, TMs also have their role to play in making sure the projects and products they are working on are as sustainable as possible. They assess what the ecological, environmental, or societal impact of their product would be, and actively come up with suggestions or ideas to make sure the product is as sustainable as possible. Additionally, the TMs continuously evaluate the testing process and cut waste wherever they can: Can the same results be achieved with fewer test environments/smaller data sets? Can the uptime of our machines be optimized, etc.?

The Scarcity Master: Our current economic reality is that scarcity is growing in all areas – IT included. A good TM knows and understands the resources at their disposal and optimizes their usage: the right skills in the right place, the right tool for the right job, the right time for the right action. The TM knows how to get maximum utilization out of tools or budget. They think out of the box and come up with creative solutions to complex problems.

The Confidence Builder: As the TM no longer has to sink time in manually creating elaborate reports or status charts, they can divert their attention to a more important goal – building confidence in a working solution, fit for purpose. It is not about delivering a 100% test case pass rate or delivering a zero-defect product, but instilling confidence in the final product, across all layers of the team. The TM builds confidence the right product is being built, there will be no major production incidents, that the product is easily scalable, does not suffer performance problems, that the product is secure, etc. As technology advances, our humanity will become more important than ever on the work floor: our ability to connect to others, using our creativity to come up with new ways to solve problems, assessing context, and reading between the lines. As the world evolves, so will the role of the TM.

About the author

SogetiLabs Country Lead | Belgium
Steve is a strong advocate of Quality Engineering throughout all phases of the SDLC. With almost a decade of background in Digital Assurance & Quality Engineering, he has gathered experience through various roles within the craft: Test analyst, Test Manager, Program Quality Manager, etc.


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