Building a Quality QA Test Team
Building a great QA strategy is of utmost importance. Read on how to build a great testing team and the different roles involved.
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We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.
If we didn't know any better, we could say Arianna Huffington was specifically talking about mobile apps.
It's predicted that 5.5 billion people will use mobile devices by 2020. This consistent increase in mobile devices creates a constant demand for unique and useful mobile applications.
With over five million mobile apps currently available, marketplaces are crowded and competition is strengthening, meaning mobile app quality has become crucial for success in the mobile ecosystem.
What might seem like a tiny bug you let slide can easily ruin the entire experience for users. With so much competition, if users can't have an excellent experience with your app, they can easily find another.
While it goes without saying that building a great QA strategy is of utmost importance, building a great testing team is just as paramount.
Quality assurance is traditionally a siloed role that separates software testing from development, product, and other teams. But as development cycles move faster and quality demands get more rigorous, many teams have learned that everyone should be concerned with the quality of your product.
Building Blocks of Great Software Testing Teams
A mobile testing team will be comprised of individuals with varying skills, experience, different attitudes, and interests. These attributes need to be tapped rightly, in order to maximize quality.
After all, a strong team keeps you afloat in a variety of both foreseen and unforeseen situations.
This role requires someone with strong strategic thinking and planning skills. Providing expertise throughout the entire product development life cycle, the manager has a strong sense of quality ownership.
Depending on the role and the organization, the QA manager can either be hands-on from a technical point of view or hands-off with a focus on strategy and processes. Or a mixture of both. However, they ensure that communication is always present.
As Zach Chrissinger, QA Project Manager at Testlio explains, "Every piece of the puzzle takes a heavy amount of communication and collaboration from start to finish. It's what makes our team so cohesive and makes our quality delivery so strong."
Great managers are a role model for the team — often going against the status quo but doing so in a manner always deserving of respect and winning the trust of others.
The Team Leader
As testers, the work completed is a direct result of leadership decisions. As such, a good team leader is supporting but not demanding — their role is much more than that of a "micromanager."
Often starting within the same position as their subordinates, team leaders are the department advocates, cheering the team during hard times and praising them after the goals are achieved.
Testlio test lead Keili Pedel often references this quote by Margaret Carty when faced with teammate turmoil: "The nice thing about teamwork is that you always have others on your side."
This role requires one to be open to new ideas, but able to turn down bad ones without crushing spirits.
The Unofficial Leader
Sometimes life happens. A kid is sick. A filling pops out. Or vacation is badly needed. Whatever the reason, at one point or another, the team leader is unable to fulfill their duties.
This is where the unofficial team leader is necessary. Someone with similar skills and experience that's also accepted by the team. After all, it's not a role with a title, so indifferent attitudes from either party can harm the team.
Acceptance goes a long way during lengthy test runs and seemingly-endless late nights.
Individuals who take ownership over projects have a leadership mentality and are proud of their leadership abilities. This role isn't assigned, rather it's an intrinsic one where the owner steps up to take on tasks.
As a manager, encourage a culture of personal accountability, where employees have the freedom to make appropriate decisions and the courage to take ownership.
Similar to an owner, motivators use their experience and skills to, well, motivate the team. They support their team during difficult times and instill confidence in colleagues without coming across as condescending.
Motivators make great unofficial leaders and contribute to the team by encouraging fellow team members. They show an act of diligence towards work rather than arrogance.
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, new team members can often be puzzled about their role in the team.
While one may expect them to simply work on assigned tasks, it's actually better for morale (and the longevity of this new colleague) if they receive clear, defined roles and responsibilities and understand the bigger picture.
Let them know why they were selected for the team, how their skills contribute to the projects, and the overall goal. This reinforces a commitment towards the work and contributes towards its quality.
Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Sure, veterans may be more stuck in their ways, but they've seen and done everything. They know processes like the back of their hands.
Seasoned players have spent a considerable amount of time in the same project or similar kind of work. They are resources who have vast knowledge about the project.
By channeling their knowledge, the entire team can benefit.
Team Building Techniques
So you have a team in place, but that's only half the battle. Knowing how to effectively manage said team is now your top priority.
Define the Scope
It's extremely difficult to perform if the expectations are not defined. It's even harder if they're changing all the time. If you want the best performance everybody's role and scope has to be clarified.
Stick to your word! If you say up one day and down the next, you won't have a team to manage.
Subjective evaluations allow people to understand their strength and weaknesses and grow from this feedback. Sometimes people aren't the right fit, but you still have to give everyone the chance to improve.
Hold regular 15- to 20-minute sessions with each team member and discuss the performance of the past few months. Be sure to prepare in advance — never come to the evaluation without knowing what to say...or angry.
Remember, this is a two-way conversation. So allow them the opportunity of saying anything to you. And absolutely do not retaliate in any way, shape, or form for their honesty.
And don't forget positive feedback is also important.
Boost, Don't Berate
Even the best teams and employees miss their goals sometimes. You aren't going to fix the problem by belittling or threatening them.
Sit down with everyone and figure out what happened. Maybe the goals were too much of a stretch or perhaps something out of your control impeded progress. Focus on what went right, address what went wrong, and move on. And never, ever, ever berate someone publicly.
A trusting and supportive group is an effective one. If you don't act that way as a leader, how could you possibly expect it in return?
Everyone likes to be recognized for their work. The worst thing for team morale is to work day and night on a project only to have the team leader present it as their own.
Acknowledged employees are happy employees and create an environment of value.
Additionally, each person on your team has insight and a point of view to contribute. Make sure they have that opportunity.
Forging the Team
Building a team isn't easy, but it goes far towards developing quality colleagues and quality products.
What matters most is creating a process and a team that delivers consistent results and drives product quality forward.
Published at DZone with permission of Lauren Gilmore, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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