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5 tips for QAs to add more value to their teams

A lot of the time Quality Analysts feel like they are not valued enough or that their efforts are not visible. Good quality is usually an expected outcome so it can be challenging to visualize the benefits of quality analysis for software improvements.

Possibly the most challenging work environment I had as a Quality Analyst was becoming the first full-time QA in a startup. There was no testing awareness prior to my role (not to mention the misunderstanding of what QA stands for and that it can be way more than testing). It took time and effort to prove my value, but in the end, when I was changing jobs, some people openly admitted that they felt that I was one of the most valuable people within the company. So, what tips do I have for becoming a respected and valued QA?

QAs working at ThoughtWorks

1. Open up to learning and collaboration

Take every chance to collaborate with other team members. It does not matter what their role is, it is extremely beneficial to collaborate and learn from others, be it a developer, salesperson or a manager. Be proactive and tell colleagues that you’d love to learn more and perhaps shadow them for a while. It can level up your domain knowledge as well as interpersonal relationships with team members. Sometimes a programmer may even think of you when they are working on a new feature and ask you for your input for unit tests.

2. Be transparent about what you work on and ask for feedback

If you have daily standups, share the summary of your findings in a concrete and informative way. Try to be specific and mention what areas were tested, what was the overall quality, and if you found a big issue, be sure to share it. If your organisation does not have standups, try to communicate this information through other channels – be it a weekly discussion, planning meetings, or in quality reports. Why not make a quality newsletter to keep people updated? Also, if you need any help or think that testability is causing some issues, speak up. Sometimes all the team needs is to be aware of the pain points in order to help you solve them. Another tip is to arrange regular learning-sharing meetings or show-and-tell sessions on what you’ve created – maybe you learned some tricks in test automation or found an interesting bug which required a lot of investigation. This will make the team better understand what quality analysis is, and where quality analysts can help.

3. Promote pair testing

Do some sessions with developers, managers, product team members or even salespeople. It will help them to see your role differently and possibly uncover unexpected bugs. Every person has a different set of experience and their usage of the product may be different. A lot of times developers may even sense what parts of the product are bug-ridden, while product or salespeople know what is actually important and where to put extra attention when testing. The next step could be to organize a bug bash event - a group session full of exploratory testing.

4. Use analytics to prioritize and drive your testing

Testing in production is more and more of a thing. It is very important for us as QAs to get to know our users. A lot of times we cannot really cover all the test scenarios either, especially in the times of big data and microservices. If possible, get to know the monitoring systems – what is being monitored in production? Can you see what features are mainly used by users? What browsers are your users using? All this data can help you to identify what actually matters.

You can then prioritize your testing based on these learnings and even include bug impact numbers to JIRA tickets. For example, you could quantify how important the issue is on IE8 by looking at the analytics numbers for users. The same could be done for functionality related problems. If the issue you reported is on IE11 and most of the users are using it – it adds extra weight. In the long run, business teams will really respect your input as you will be able to provide quality insights based on actual KPIs (if they are related to user experiences). Your ability to do testing that is driven by user data can help you to provide well-respected insights on quality, which could be useful even to the CEO.

5. Involve yourself in support and customer feedback analysis

If there is feedback functionality or a support team for your product, try to get involved there. This will help you to get to know the user and their pain points. By analyzing the issues you will learn more about the product and may get asked to join further investigations. This way you will be learning a lot of valuable information about the actual users which will be really appreciated by your team members. Overall, we are not delivering quality if we’re not addressing the needs of our users.

In conclusion

Using these five tips should help raise quality awareness and embed the value of quality analysis in your teams and the company at large. You’ll start to notice a change from just testing to quality analysis, embracing the shift of the modern QA role. Quality analysis is way more than just testing. In the end, we are all working towards the same goal of having a high-quality product and as QAs we promote this mindset.