Quality Assurance to Quality Engineering: How to Navigate
By Vivek Mannotra, Community Contributor - October 22, 2022
Software testing is a big part of information technology, and as a result, beginner software testing makes up a big chunk of the jobs available to graduating freshers. While deciding to start a career, one tries to catch up on all the requirements and skill sets.
But in a dynamic industry in terms of QA vs QE, gaining market-led insights can provide leverage in overcoming growth challenges in the present and near future. Whether you’re QA looking to level up or a beginner, learn to shift from Quality Assurance to Quality Engineering as per the market needs.
A tester assuming the persona of a prospective user, using the application, and providing documented feedback is the most commonly accepted role for a QA beginner. This perspective is mainly based on the personal manual part running on documentation and communication, devoid of any significant technical leverage beyond the knowledge of a few popular tools.
Quality assurance was part of industries before the advent of computers. In a traditional waterfall product development workflow, QA is used to manually evaluate products at the end of the production line and certify them for customer use. This perspective came over to the software industry, and initially, the software industry also used to work on waterfall-style development, so this fitted the times appropriately.
But times in the age of computers move much faster. As a result, this model quickly became obsolete with the arrival of things like
- Object-oriented programming: A new way of encapsulating abstractions to increase modularity and functional separation at the cost of an inflated codebase.
- Services-based architectures: A way to architect internet resources into packets of business/technical functionality, separated over a net of physical and cloud resources.
- Front-end/back-end separation: Splitting app development into user and server-side parts and developing each using a specially designed tool stack.
- Iterative development and Agile methodology: Scrum, Kanban, Sprints, DevOps, QAOps, etc., introducing new ways to think about team dynamics.
- Cloud technologies and CI/CD: Software as a service, Computation as a service, API as a service, and much more powered by an ever-expanding intertwined network of corporations, open source projects, and institutions.
All these technologies have led to a new emphasis on engineering, especially for software quality.
Visualizing scope of QA vs QE
In the QA vs QE thought process, where anyone with access to the internet can build applications, the factor which often differentiates winners from losers is quality. And quality in the times of iterative product release cycles is not a step before release but a deeply integrated part of the end-to-end development process. Industry in recent years has changed significantly to accommodate fast technological development.
So what this means in practice is that developers have to test and testers have to write code(or at least scripts). A quality engineer is expected to look at the user interaction and the testing operation as a whole and optimize both simultaneously.
It is empowering to look at the current market for CI/CD tools in automated testing and use them to enhance personal and organizational capabilities to achieve new possibilities in comprehension and output.
A QE in practice performs the following tasks:
- Understand the overall development process in summary and the specifics of the testing part in detail. Equipping yourselves with modern and process-based thinking about testing allows for more measurable value in test design. Design thinking for one is something that is catching up with quality engineering.
App Automate provides easy access to all your automation test runs
- Work with the development team to write unit tests and increase code coverage, and write and run automation test scripts.
- Have sufficient knowledge of cloud technologies and work on local and cloud testing.
- Capture reports and analytics across all steps and compose a meaningful analysis that will further your data visualization in test reporting.
- Automate regression for core workflows and build hard quality checks.
- Segregate concerns, build processes for greater control, and keep experimenting with upcoming industry changes.
These are not exclusive or separate things in practice, but in team environments, resources focus on one or the other depending on their technical prowess. Knowing your trajectory in a rapidly growing company is the key to a fulfilling career.
Understanding the concepts outlined in this guide will help you develop a realistic pathway to shift from quality assurance to quality engineering.
Stay in Sync with Current Industry Standards
Tech industry being well-established worldwide, has its way of testing and evaluating prospective career aspirants. Technology companies within the context of quality assurance vs quality engineering have developed their own relevant evaluation criteria. This is the first thing that an applicant needs to study.
You will find that different companies have different organizational structures and hiring criteria. This is especially clear when you look at the top five tech companies i.e. Apple, Microsoft, Google, Meta and Amazon. They all have different designations and hierarchies, but in principle, they are all tech companies.
A well-studied person understands that all tech team arrangements are subject to updates upon the adoption of newer technologies by the market. So while working within a narrow stream, staying agnostic of titles and tools is an essential skill for someone planning to grow over a long time frame.
Streamline your Aspirations and Goals
What is the ideal work environment you are trying to get into? What kind of trajectory and future growth prospects are you trying to aim towards? A solid vision of these questions will help you gain the momentum you need to work and excel in a competitive environment.
Suppose you do not have confident answers to these questions. In that case, you can level up your overall understanding by:
- Reading on platforms like this which provide the latest news and solutions to challenges that actual testing teams face.
- Start implementing projects and practice documentation and scripting.
- Find out the most relevant technologies for the platform you are interested in and dedicate time to learning + implementation.
- If you are a student, you need not worry about buying licenses as many popular open-source tools are free for all and are also deployed by actual companies for testing products in production e.g. Selenium, Jmeter
- Be ready to learn new things. If this seems like a daunting task, then there is some issue with how you are referencing and learning to use new products.
- With an elevated understanding of modern technologies and products, it will be easier for you to build a plug-in-play mentality with a broad set of tools instead of getting fixated on one tool only.
Your growth vision needs to incorporate a well-perceived pathway to business-related contributions and continued improvement of workflows by adopting the latest and greatest in testing technology. This is the part most beginners find difficult to comprehend and analyze due to a lack of experience inside the actual workings of corporations.
Hands-on experience with product development and testing processes is a sure-shot way to build the knowledge and confidence base needed for transitioning from quality assurance to quality engineering.