There is a lot more to being a software tester than just understanding how to detect and fix bugs. Quality assurance professionals work to ensure that the apps they help create live up to user and stakeholder standards throughout its lifecycle. This, of course, is often easier said than done, as the overall view of a specific project can often be lost with all of the other tasks on a QA employee's plate. For this reason, it's critical for testers to be business savvy and have the organization's strategy in mind at all times.
Building up business savvy
Whereas traditional development methods often siloed off testers from the company side, agile environments make collaboration necessary across all fronts. According to PM College, there are a few habits that business savvy testers should adhere to, such as managing projects for organization impact, communicating to drive results and demonstrating project value to potential stakeholders. These practices can only be achieved if a tester fully understands what the business's goals are and how a product fits into the big picture.
QA professionals should be able to detail how an app can help the organization further its development, improve processes and streamline employee workflows. If a tester cannot do this, they will likely not be able to produce software that has the type of functionality and features that users are expecting. Even a basic understanding of the company's strategy could mean the difference between a successful program and one that misses the mark.
"A business-savvy project manager can quickly summarize the business reasons for engaging in the project, including how it is aligned with the business goals of the company," PM College stated. "The business-savvy project manager moves away from concentrating on the technical details of the project and focuses on the overall value of the project – and of project management in general."
Take an overarching perspective
Although QA is only one part of a business, these employees must be able to look at the big picture. Tech Product Management contributor Daniel Elizalde noted that knowing the industry, how the product contributes to the company's bottom line and the complete product lifecycle from the organization's perspective will all be critical factors. Understanding these elements will help QA teams create a functional app from the very beginning.
Testers might also be able to come up with specific tests that will better detect bugs that could affect the program's performance. Elizalde noted that having business savvy will help QA teams define how users will be trained and how to incorporate feedback for further development. These aspects will be necessary to establish before launch, ensuring that the integration goes smoothly and that all needs are met on a rolling basis.
"A product usually starts out of a business need," Elizalde wrote. "From there, it requires market and user research to validate the idea and then funding for the development effort. Once the actual product development starts, there are the typical stages of UX, development, QA, etc, but in parallel, there are other tracks going on."
Testing correlates to company development
The business and its strategy directly affect how much testing is required for various projects and the approaches QA teams take toward software development. Industry experts Michael Kelly and Jeanette Thebeau have noted that an organization's stage impacts how much it values testing. For example, many decision-makers don't mind a few bugs early on in the company's lifecycle, since the main goal to to push the product to beta. Following in the footsteps of giants like Google, which has had products in beta for years, this approach seems to make sense for businesses that are just starting out.
On the flip side, if an organization is growing, testing becomes paramount. Specifically when the testing is tied to a major product launch, businesses should take extra precautions to ensure that they have the skills on hand to meet their goals and handle any unforeseen challenges.
An organization's business strategy is a critical aspect for testers to keep in mind as they go through their projects. By having a better overview of the company's goals and development, QA teams will be able to better evaluate their software and ensure that it meets stakeholder expectations.