Software testing can often be a challenging occupation to hold. The rigors of keeping a project on track and meeting tight release schedules may lead to a stressful working environment. Given the demanding nature of the quality assurance field, it's not unusual for a critical member of the team to up and leave with little to no forewarning, putting QA management in a bind. How can they carry on with the resources and personnel still available and meet approaching release deadlines? The key is to manage those assets as effectively as possible to wring the most productivity and performance from them.
When a key quality assurance team member leaves an organization, simply replacing him or her with a new hire of equal experience and talent is an impractical proposition. Highly skilled QA professionals are currently in high demand, allowing prospective job candidates to ask for a salary that may not fit into an organization's operating budget. Acquiring new talent may be difficult. As Computerworld contributor Beth Stackpole recently noted, there was a time when software testers were not as highly as developers and programmers by organizational leaders. This view has changed over the years as highly publicized software failures demonstrated the tangible worth of QA efforts.
Troubled launches such as last year's HealthCare.gov rollout and their ensuing fallout have made it clear that sacrificing software testing abilities will only hurt a company in the long run. "The role of QA is becoming more important and enjoying a higher level of perception in the organization," John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, told the source. "At one point, people would say it was a necessary evil like an auditor. Now people are starting to look at it as a role that actually can bring about significant benefits, helping organizations create better products and ensuring there are fewer bugs upon rollout."
While QA's ascension is good news for software testers, it may make it more difficult for QA management to quickly add important members to the team at a moment's notice. The market is becoming more competitive and entire regions are starved for talent. Nashville, Tenn., as well as its outlying area, for instance, has had some trouble obtaining the IT skills needed to support its burgeoning tech industry. The Tennessean reported that there more than 800 tech-related positions that have yet to be filled in the region, prompting local authorities to take steps to attract IT professionals to Nashville.
Given the unlikelihood that QA management will be able to simply reload their talent, they will need to replace the workload and productivity of lost personnel through other means. Offshoring remains a popular method of acquiring software testing skills without breaking the bank hiring local IT experts. However, outsourcing QA responsibilities presents its own set of challenges, most notably the potential drop in communication and collaboration between local and remote teams. If these issues are not addressed, redundancies and inefficiencies may flourish, impeding the production process. QA management can overcome these hurdles by integrating the best test management software to serve as a hub for software testing activity. Team members can use these tools to upload bug reports, testing metrics and automated scripts, among other assets. This way, testers can freely share resources with one another regardless of their location.