As a project manager in XBOSoft, I focus on satisfying our clients which is dependent on how well I manage our testing team. Software test team management requires that I communicate with team members frequently every day. In order to be able to function as an efficient team, I try my best to develop effective team communication. The five most common and effective ways we use to communicate are:

  1. Team meetings
  2. Email
  3. IM tools
  4. Team collaboration tools
  5. Face to face/1-1 talks

Team Meetings: Meeting in a conference room with team members directly can deliver information to all members at the same time, and it also helps to collect different ideas from different team members. To get started on important testing tasks like regression testing, we will have a team meeting as soon as possible to share critical information and discuss how to divide up the work effectively. A draft plan / solution with different ideas will come out of the meeting. Information sharing and training are typically done in team meetings as well.

Email: I get many emails from clients every day. Some emails are for testing requirements while some of them are for sharing product information to us. I review emails immediately and forward product related emails to team members as soon as possible. The earlier we share this information to team members, the more time we can save for the team.

IM tool: Usually we use Skype to communicate with each other for minor and ‘not so complicated’ information. With Skype we create a project group so that when we need talk together, we deliver message to the entire group. For example, our client just notified me that a new build was ready for testing. I will copy this message to our Skype group immediately. It saves lots of time, and make communication more free and open.

Team collaboration tool: With the project going forward, more and more information needs to be shared within the team. Tasks assigned to different team members also need to be delivered and saved in a common place. We mainly use Atlassian Confluence as our team collaboration tool to manage such information, but any wiki will do. With a wiki, if you want to review the information you posted before, you can do so easily without searching through hundreds of emails.

Face to face talks:  Sometimes we only need to discuss items with a specific group of people, instead of the whole team. Face to face and 1-1 talking will be the best choice for this situation as it is more efficient and saves other team members’ time. We usually use small meetings with 1-1 or at most 3 to discuss the problems in in detail for some specific product module in our project.

I think that communication is probably one of the most important elements in software test team management. It is hard to say which one of above five ways is the best, but no one doubt that these five ways can used together in our daily team communication in different ways and combinations to meet most needs and situations.