How to train, engage and manage a QA Team
Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - September 30, 2020
A Quality Assurance (QA) team leader has to approve and sign off on the quality, efficacy, and performance of a software release every few weeks. This includes the software’s UI, stability issues, and bug fixes. Given the complexity of modern software, QA managers can accomplish this with teams. Often, QA teams consist of a few members working to verify code created by a large number of developers.
Such a task would daunt any Quality Assurance manager. This article will attempt to ease the issue by detailing a few managerial practices that can help them train, engage, and manage their team.
To gear a QA department for success, training is of utmost importance. Incorporate the following guidelines into the software tester training process:
- Clarity of purpose: Every QA in a team should be clear on why they are there in the first place. They must have clarity on their goals, what they are expected to accomplish, and why their particular skills fit the job.
- Comprehensive Knowledge Transfer: Every new tester must be given the data and information required to function in the team. This includes team goals and priorities, working knowledge of necessary tools and frameworks, and commonly followed timelines.
- Quality Standards: Arguably, the most important of QA learnings, every tester in a new team must be given specifics on what standards their work must live up to. Different organizations or even teams can have different grades or levels of performance the software must operate at before being considered worthy of release.
- Ask for and incorporate feedback: No one wants to feel like a cog in a machine. Don’t just instruct testers on what to do. Every project must start with brainstorming sessions of how best to get work done. Each tester must have complete freedom to voice their opinion and be adequately heard by the team and the manager. If their views are incorporated, it makes the QA feel far more valued as a team member.
- Offer challenges: As far as possible, don’t bore testers with repetitive tasks. What’s the point of putting them through extensive training if those skills are not honed with real-world applications? Now it certainly isn’t possible to offer exciting tasks every day, but managers can try to challenge them to brainstorm new ideas or pick up a new tool or test automation framework. Testers operating at advanced levels can also be assigned more complex side projects or be asked to consult for other teams because of their expertise.
- Explore Each Tester’s Uniqueness: Any Quality Assurance manager must be aware of each tester’s unique abilities. When assigning tasks, try to allocate them based on each tester’s realm of expertise. By doing this, testers feel like they are contributing in indispensable ways. It also lets them know what aspects of their knowledge and training is working, and what capabilities they could leverage to further their careers.
- Involve Testers early on: Testers should be part of development sprints cycles from the very first meeting. When they know the intricacies of development early on, they are much better prepared to create test scenarios, test cases, user profiles, and a list of bugs to look for. It also keeps them from remaining unoccupied until developers are done pushing a build.
Read More: Is your QA team ready for Remote Testing?
QA Team Management
- Communicate with consistency: Every Quality Assurance manager needs to be able to effectively share feedback and ideas with his team as well as developers working on the software under test. Conflict is natural in such settings, and resolving it can be a QA manager’s worst nightmare. However, managers can make things easier by creating a team environment in which testers can speak up regularly, share ideas, and have clarity on issues that can affect productivity and effectiveness. They also need to stay open to new management tools and strategies, and device methods to foster cooperation between devs and testers. Outside of the workspace, cordial personal relations with other teams and devs help achieve these to a great extent.
- Involve Stakeholders in relevant discussions: Much like an earlier point about involving testers in development discussions, developers and business stakeholders should be made part of QA conversations. Testers need to understand potential users’ journeys to understand how they will use the software. Business stakeholders are the best people to detail user behavior, which makes QA’s jobs much easier. Greater involvement of non-testing personnel can provide insight into software issues, customer expectations, and other data necessary for testers to work at high levels of efficacy. Use these meetings to gather development findings, customer feedback, possible testing roadblocks, and product history.
- Schedule One on One Time with Testers: Schedule some time every quarter with each individual team member to discuss their performance and goals. Allow testers to reveal what may be impeding their progress, what goals they would like to pursue, and how they see themselves advancing their career. This allows managers to identify what motivates each member, and how they can enable opportunities for team members’ growth.
- Pair technical skill development with soft skills: All the technical skills in the world cannot help QA managers run their team if they do not have a greater purpose in mind. Soft skills, such as communication and relationship-building are what allow leaders to create impact, gain confidence, and exert influence even beyond their team. Managers need to invest time in themselves to find ways to strike this balance. For example, taking a couple of workshops on conflict resolution along with learning why Cypress should be added to the automation testing toolkit.
- Introduce real devices: The QA manager’s primary job is to get tests accomplished faster without compromising on the accuracy of results. That is impossible to achieve without using real browsers and devices for testing. Whether manual testing or automated Selenium testing, real devices are non-negotiable in the testing equation. The device pool for testing must include not just the latest devices, but also older devices still active in the market. Since one can’t know which device will be used to access a website or app in a highly fragmented landscape, the more devices one can run tests on, the better.It is best for managers to get their entire team on a single test plan for easy collaboration with BrowserStack’s Live for Large Teams. This tool allows managers to add as many users as they want to a single testing plan. This means that every tester on a team can work on a single plan. Additionally, Live for Large Teams provides the following features:
1. Unlimited Users: Add as many users as you like. Give access to as many users as you want at affordable pricing. No need to share accounts.
2. Advanced Access Control: Create sub-teams, customize dashboard views, and allocate parallel threads to teams based on their testing needs.
3.Single Sign-On: Simplified login experience. Integrate with your existing identity provider for authentication.
4.Real Device Access: Every tester on a plan (no matter how many) will be able to test on 2000+ real browsers and real devices. No emulators. Old legacy versions are also available.
5.Personal Device Cloud: Instant access from anywhere for every tester on the team. Real-time debugging with integrated dev tools.
6.Real user conditions: GPS and IP geolocation(test websites from over 45+ countries), Natural gestures, Screen Orientation
Live for Large Teams allows users to test from anywhere at any time. It is ideal for remote testers because it lets every tester access BrowserStack work from anywhere, collaborate with integrations like Jira, Slack, GitHub, and Trello. With instant access to 2000+ browsers and devices, Dev and QA teams can focus on testing without worrying about device availability.
Users can sign up, select a device-browser-OS combination, and start testing. They can simulate user conditions such as low network and battery, changes in location (both local and global changes), and viewport sizes as well as screen resolutions. To speed up, testers can execute parallel testing on BrowserStack’s cloud Selenium grid.
Managing a QA team is no easy task, but the challenges it brings can be allayed with the right data, processes and tools in place. This article provides the basics from which to pursue a successful QA management strategy. Build on these guidelines, and adjust the methods to the needs and working style of a particular team.