QualityWorks Consulting Group https://qualityworkscg.com Software Consulting Firm Thu, 15 Jul 2021 15:02:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://i1.wp.com/qualityworkscg.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/cropped-QualityWorks-Logo-Symbol-e1472241120651.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 QualityWorks Consulting Group https://qualityworkscg.com 32 32 176344164 Scrum Masters: 6 Questions to Get Your Agile Team in Sync https://qualityworkscg.com/scrum-masters-6-questions-to-get-your-agile-team-in-sync/ https://qualityworkscg.com/scrum-masters-6-questions-to-get-your-agile-team-in-sync/#respond Thu, 15 Jul 2021 15:02:04 +0000 https://qualityworkscg.com/?p=218298 The post Scrum Masters: 6 Questions to Get Your Agile Team in Sync appeared first on QualityWorks Consulting Group.

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Scrum Masters play a critical role in ensuring goal alignment, identifying risks, removing bottlenecks, and keeping sprint backlogs on track. Ask these often overlooked questions to set your agile team up for success.

By Sheyinka Harry

As the servant leader for an agile team, the Scrum Master does much more than facilitate meetings and remove roadblocks. Scrum Masters spend a lot of their time roaming about the room, virtual or in person, listening to discussions and challenging their teams. One of the most remarkable aspects of servant leadership is being put into a position to help your team develop and perform as highly as possible. A part of satisfying this is by leading teams to make the best decisions based on skill set, parties involved, resources, etc. This does not mean telling them what to do. It instead means asking questions during the different interactions to challenge your team’s own decisions. Challenging their decisions isn’t about undermining their expertise or knowledge, but rather ensuring they have taken the proper steps to this point of recommendation.

Discussed below are some of my favorite questions to ask as a Scrum Master.

During Backlog Grooming:

Scrum Master at Backlog grooming

1. How are we scoring effort?

It is important for Scrum Masters to remind the team of the metric (t-shirt sizes, hours/days, story points) being used for estimation of effort, as well as what is being accounted for in the score. Typical considerations when estimating effort include:

  • Developer effort;
  • Quality Assurance effort;
  • Lead time between moving parts; and
  • Third party coordination.


This ensures that everyone is on the same page. It can ultimately result in more aligned points of effort being awarded – if this is understood and agreed upon by all team members. You can also identify bottlenecks and make decisions accordingly.

During Sprint Planning:

Scrum Master during Sprint Planning

2. Do we have all the information needed to get these tickets completed?

Before we start a ticket or even pull it into a Sprint, we always want to ensure that the team has all the information they’ll need to get done. This removes the possibility of starting a task with a blocker. It is also important to ensure the team has a clear understanding of the “what” they are about to solve.

Having what you need is determined by looking at the following:

  • Clear acceptance criteria that can guide the implementation by the developers and the subsequent validations by the QA.
  • Supporting documents (designs, schemas, instructions, “wording”) are made available before it is slated to be actioned. Having these details ultimately ensures that a story/product backlog item is Ready.

3. How will we complete the Sprint Backlog?

Going into Sprint Planning, Scrum Masters usually facilitate the team discussions about what the Sprint Goal will be and ensures that the team looks at the priority Product Backlog items to be tackled to achieve it. In previous Backlog Grooming sessions, the what of these priority items would have been clarified by the Product Owner and agreed upon as understood by the team, or sent back for further clarification. This is great, but simply knowing what to do isn’t enough. The team now needs to have a more detailed discussion around how they’re actually going to satisfy the acceptance criteria of the priority items. This step is often missed by teams, which inadvertently causes issues in execution. Skipping this step often results in:

  • Unaccounted for pieces of the technical equation;
  • Testers not knowing how to test the implementation;
  • Too much time spent going down the rabbit hole; and
  • Overcommitment of tickets.

Doing a dissection of the tentative Sprint Backlog items prompts the team to take the following into account:

  • What frontend considerations do we need to take into account?
  • What backend considerations do we need to take into account?
  • What QA considerations do we need to take into account?

Basically, what are the actual needs for this piece of work? Determining this provides insight into not only the work that will go into satisfying the acceptance criteria, but also who will be needed to get the Sprint Backlog item to the finish line.

4. What can we reasonably accomplish during this Sprint?

When looking at the tentative Sprint Backlog post team assignment and sub-tasking, a decision needs to be made regarding whether or not the team can actually accomplish everything. We now need to put things into perspective by looking at factors such as the average velocity and the actual availability of team members. With availability, consideration must be given to any upcoming time off, external meetings, and outside commitments.

Knowing how much time you need to allocate elsewhere lets team members know just how many hours or days they should dedicate to getting work done in the Sprint. This refined view of actual availability can then be applied to determining the team’s joint capacity. As a Scrum Master, I love emphasizing joint capacity with my teams, as we often fall into the problem of developers taking on a load of tickets to complete without sufficient QA resources available to get them done and ready for demo. What needs to happen is this: The developers look at what they can get done, and the QAs also examine if the workload is feasible. This reinforces the importance of getting a story done within the Sprint it was started. This takes joint effort from the team. Oftentimes, there are reviews necessary outside the actual testing and validation of the implementation, so we want to look at the full workflow to get items completed rather than look at them disjointedly by role. By doing this, what do we know we’ll get done without a shadow of a doubt? Anything else can be noted as stretch goals.

During Daily Standup:

Scrum Master at Daily Standup

5. Is there any new knowledge that we need to take into account?

As we work, we uncover new things that lead to the evolution of the Product Backlog and the actual product. These can take the form of a new direction based on insights from a technical Spike, a new design approach, or missing requirements needed to complete the user flow. Whatever the case, any new stories uncovered out of what is currently being worked on need to be created. We want to ensure that we are filling any gaps in our execution, and that these details are captured in the Backlog ahead of our Grooming and Planning sessions.

6. Are there any risks to the work we committed to?

As the team works on getting their tasks done, there may be unforeseen circumstances that take their attention away from this goal. As time progresses, it is important for Scrum Masters to do a temperature check to see if things are still on track. Can we still get everything done by the end of the Sprint? If the answer is no, there will need to be follow-up discussions with the aim of either Resolving, Owning, Accepting, or Mitigating these risks. If nothing can be done to remove the risk and get back on track, a discussion around a possible shift in priority can be made.

For my teams, these checks are done at the mid-Sprint, T-2 and T-1 days before Sprint Review. At these points, based on the risk and how much time is needed to complete the task as opposed to time left in the Sprint, the team member(s) are asked to shift their focus to helping the rest of the team get achievable tickets completed.

Pushing your team to be great and make the best decisions is no easy task. However, it can become less complicated when you ask them the right questions. Once you start asking these questions, you will see the true effectiveness of your team and the power of teamwork. Ask them enough times, and I guarantee you’ll see a change in their thought process and execution.

To learn more about this topic, visit our website or connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

About the Author

Sheyinka is an Advanced Certified Scrum Master and Senior Agile Consultant at QualityWorks Consulting Group. Over the last few years, she has worked with product development teams across the US, Latin America, and the Caribbean to help streamline and optimize their software delivery process and build products their users love. She has significant experience in the finance and e-commerce space and is passionate about helping organizations achieve their goals through agile transformation.

Check out part 1 of the Agile Questions series for Six Powerful Questions Every Agile Team Member Should Ask.

Check out part 2 of the Agile Questions series for Stakeholders: Three Powerful Agile Questions You Should Be Asking

Check out part 3 of the Agile Questions series for Powerful Agile Questions Every Product Owner Should Be Asking

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Powerful Agile Questions Every Product Owner Should be Asking https://qualityworkscg.com/powerful-agile-questions-every-product-owner-should-be-asking/ https://qualityworkscg.com/powerful-agile-questions-every-product-owner-should-be-asking/#respond Fri, 11 Jun 2021 11:19:18 +0000 https://qualityworkscg.com/?p=218267 The post Powerful Agile Questions Every Product Owner Should be Asking appeared first on QualityWorks Consulting Group.

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By Sheyinka Harry

As the liaison between the business/customer and the team, the Product Owner is innately responsible for creating the Product Vision and Mission, as well as the resulting Product Backlog. When creating these artifacts, Product Owners spend a great portion of their time in meetings with:

  • The stakeholders to capture their needs;
  • The Team to ensure the Product Backlog items are clear and understood; and
  • The actual customers to validate the correct thing is being developed.

Because of these meetings, many would consider this role to be the most demanding on the Agile Team, and they may very well be correct. There is a great deal riding on the ability of the Product Owner to clearly articulate the needs of the customers, including the ability to provide guidance to the Delivery Team. Asking questions is therefore definitely par for the course, given the degree of elicitation required in these interactions. There are commonplace questions that need to be asked, such as:

  • Is my backlog clear?
  • What should we work on next?

Then there are the not-so-commonplace – but equally important – questions that often get overlooked. These questions go a long way in ensuring that the right thing is both being built and being built right. Discussed below are some powerful questions Product Owners should be asking in their interactions with their stakeholders, customers, and teams.

To the Stakeholders:

Stakeholders

1. What opportunity is this product creating?

Taking a look at the opportunity being created is a great step toward defining the Product Vision Statement. While we may already know the target audience we wish to serve and the product we want to put on the market for them, we may not know which of their needs we are solving. This creates a potential problem, i.e., resources are wasted creating products or services that are not needed. Instead, time could have been spent solving actual pain points and the needs of customers to increase satisfaction and, ultimately, business revenue. How do we do this? We want to zone in on what the actual customer’s needs are, and curate features or functions within the proposed product or service that can solve this existing issue or exploit an opportunity. Yes, we want to be first to market and be quick with innovative solutions, but we need to ensure they are serving a purpose.

2. Where does this new need fall in the grand scheme of things?

We have all had experiences with stakeholders bringing new requests to the team for implementation. Whether these requests are communicated during the Sprint review/ Demo session, or they come in as ad hoc requests during the Sprint, the question still remains, “Where does this new request fall?”. Even when saying “Yes” to a request, it does not mean you can start working on it right away; all requests need to have an associated priority.

When in mid-Sprint, getting a new request reduces the previously allocated and committed time and effort of team members. Therefore, there needs to be a conversation to review the current commitments of the team, and a decision made around what trade offs will be made based on the priority of this new addition. The most common trade off is removing an item of equal or possibly greater effort from the Sprint Backlog.

If this request is made during the Sprint Review, a conversation can be initiated either immediately or in a follow up to discuss where this falls in relation to the planned work for the next Sprint. Is this request of greater importance than the predetermined next steps? Can it wait until a few Sprints down the road?

Knowing the “why” for a piece of work is also beneficial when deciding when or even IF it is implemented. Zeroing in on whether this request is coming from the results of market research, new trends in data, or something that a stakeholder or team member thought about overnight helps with acceptance and prioritization.

To the Team:

Teamwork

1. If our stakeholders were in the room with us, what would they say about this sprint?

This could be a great mid-Sprint or Retrospective check-in for your teams. Whatever the occurrence, asking this question prompts the team to wear a different hat and do an assessment of how well they’re working as a team to meet the Sprint Goal, as well as the quality of what they’re producing. In a Retrospective, this can lead to a discussion around action items for future Sprints to mitigate any unfavorable views that the team perceives may come from stakeholders.

2. How can I help you deliver more value?

Even though the Product Owner doesn’t build the features, the team depends on your ability to maximize the value of the product and the work of the Development Team. There is no better way to help the team deliver more value than asking what they need from you to do so. Doing this will ensure you are providing them with exactly what they need, instead of what you think they need.

3. Does my prioritization help you stay focused?

Product owners have the tricky task of creating synergy in the team through the organization of the Backlog. Having priorities that cause major task switching can create strain on the team. Asking if the current prioritization method helps the team stay focused opens the door for the team to talk about any conflicting priorities you may not know about.

4. Are you clear on why the Backlog is prioritized this way?

The Curse of Knowledge is a bias that most Product Owners unknowingly possess. With this bias, they assume that others have the background information to understand their actions and often neglect to inform the team why they’ve made certain priority choices. On the occasions where they express the why, the reasoning doesn’t always make sense to team members. Having the team clear on the reason for the prioritization goes a long way in getting their buy-in to do the work.

5. Do you have any competing priorities that may keep you away from this work?

Although the Scrum Guide emphasizes the need for a dedicated team, the reality is that it is not always possible. It is therefore crucial to the success of the Sprint and the overall project that any competing priorities be communicated promptly. Having this discussion early with the team can help Product Owners to scope future Sprints and adjust the Product roadmap. With this information, it becomes easier for POs to set expectations with stakeholders and customers, as they can preempt any delays based on the availability of team members.

6. What risks do we face in delivering this product?

The importance of identifying risks early cannot be emphasized enough. Issues that derail projects often live as risks at the beginning of the project. Think back to a time you faced a disaster, then heard someone loudly say, “I knew that was going to happen!” Wouldn’t it have been better to have spoken about it at the beginning? Noting any risks allows Product Owners to have discussions with stakeholders on how to handle them. During these sessions, the identified risks can be:

  • Resolved: The issue has been addressed and no longer exists.
  • Owned: A member of the group has agreed to either resolve the issue outside of the meeting or oversee its resolution.
  • Accepted: The risk cannot be resolved, so it has been discussed, and the team understands and accepts it for what it is.
  • Mitigated: The team is moving to formulate a plan to eradicate the risk.

To Customers:

Does the product solve your problem?

1. Does this product solve your problem?

As Sam Walton, founder of the popular retailers Walmart and Sam’s Club, said, “There is only one boss; the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” With this thought in mind, it is of utmost importance for any customer needs to actually be addressed. The main prerogative should be doing the work needed to get their pain points addressed, and doing this check validates if the product is moving in the right direction.

As you can see, there’s more to be considered when doing the work of a Product Owner. Yes, the North Star we all work toward is correctly communicating the needs of the customer and stakeholders to the team, and providing necessary guidance to get the work done. Getting to that end goal, however, requires deep questioning of all parties involved to ensure that the right thing is being done right. Having these questions in your repertoire works to ensure that all aspects of the process are being considered, and that as that liaison you are empowering your teams to create solutions that actually solve your customers’ problems.

To learn more about this topic, visit our website or connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Check out part 1 of the Agile Questions series for Six Powerful Questions Every Agile Team Member Should Ask.

Check out part 2 of the Agile Questions series for Stakeholders: Three Powerful Agile Questions You Should Be Asking

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How to Prepare Your QA Team for Test Automation https://qualityworkscg.com/how-to-prepare-structure-your-qa-team-for-test-automation/ https://qualityworkscg.com/how-to-prepare-structure-your-qa-team-for-test-automation/#respond Thu, 06 May 2021 21:08:43 +0000 https://qualityworkscg.com/?p=218248 The post How to Prepare Your QA Team for Test Automation appeared first on QualityWorks Consulting Group.

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By Julia Pottinger

The QA team is responsible for creating and maintaining the test automation scripts that have been written. Even before that is done, they need to identify appropriate scenarios that should be written, create the test automation strategy, and essentially guide and influence whether or not the expected ROI on test automation is achieved. This is a lot of responsibility, and it could be the determining factor in whether time is wasted or saved. As a result, choosing the members of that QA team and structuring it correctly is very important. In structuring your QA team for test automation there are four key things to do.

Determine the Goal of Test Automation and Share the Strategy with Team

Determine the Goal of Test Automation and Share the Strategy with Team

A test automation strategy defines the frameworks you’re going to use to get reusable, automated scripts, as well as how you’re going to create and maintain those scripts. You need to do this in order to get a return on your investment. After creating your test automation strategy, you and your team should be able to establish what you’re going to automate, how you’ll go about automating it, who will be doing the automation, when the automation will be done, and what environments will be used. 

Defining the goal is one of the first things you should do when creating a test automation strategy. The goal of test automation is very important; it will help guide the different sections of the test strategy. You should therefore ask the following questions: Do you want to deliver quality software faster? Do you want your automated test to be done in the same sprint that your developers are creating features, and adding automated tests will reduce the time your test spends doing manual regression – therefore leaving them with more time to automate those new features in the sprint and saving time while maintaining quality? Do you want to have a continuous integration or continuous delivery system where, once your developer creates a build, it triggers tests that check for certain features to ensure they are not broken and the quality of the application is still where you need it to be? Whatever the goal, it needs to be defined, as this will help you choose the team, tools, and techniques you use going forward.

When exploring your test automation strategy, you need to evaluate if the application is automatable, the application has the needed locators, certain functionalities are solidified, or whether the application is rapidly changing and how long the project is. What obstacles are there to having effective test automation, and how can you remove or mitigate against them?

Identify Team Roles and Responsibilities

Identify Team Roles and Responsibilities

The test automation team should be responsible for creating the test strategy, identifying what to automate, automating the tests, maintaining them, and possibly putting them into a CI/CD system. Choosing the right team can be the difference between success and failure. 

In selecting your test automation team, you should have a mix of junior and senior members. The senior members of the team should be experienced in the language and framework you have selected and be able to create test automation frameworks independently. They should be well versed in test automation best practices, such as data management, selecting the correct tests to automate, identifying the level of test automation to be done, and using API and database automation to set up and populate scenarios for UI automation. The junior members of your team will learn from the senior members, but they should also know the language and be familiar with creating test automation scripts. Junior engineers are great for helping to maintain the test automation project; they will also learn a great deal that will in time help them develop into strong senior engineers. This mix will allow for all members of your team to learn and grow, while having a great test automation project.

One of the senior persons on your team should be a team leader. This person ideally will operate as the manager of the project by guiding scope, advocating for the members of the team, and helping to make decisions on priority and the time to complete tasks. Preferably, this person should be very knowledgeable about the following: test automation, using reusable functions, leveraging page objects, continuous integration, and capable of training and upskilling other members of the team.

As you decide the roles and responsibilities of your team, you will also need to determine the size of the team. This should be a good balance between your testers and developers. For 2-3 developers, I generally recommend having at least 1 manual tester and 1 test automation engineer, respectively. For a test automation project, especially one with a wide scope, you can begin by increasing the number of members on your team. It will take time and effort to create the strategy, set up the framework, select tests to automate, and maintain those tests. I strongly advocate having a balanced QA to dev ratio because maintaining that balance helps to produce higher-quality software.

Training Time

Training Time

It is very important for all members of the team to be properly trained, as well as aware and confident in their role on the team. Training manual testers to start writing test automation code is a process. They will first need to know an object-oriented programming language, such as Python, Javascript, or Java, along with how to find locators and use the specific test automation framework in which their code for the project will be written. Test automation frameworks differ per programming language, and each has unique areas that your team will need to be trained on. In addition to learning how to write test automation scripts in a particular language and framework, your team must learn how to ensure the scripts they are creating are maintainable and reusable. There are techniques (such as page object patterns and creating atomic tests) that your team must learn and apply to the test automation project. This all takes time. You don’t want to rush your team, as this can adversely affect your test automation efforts. You should also ensure they are properly trained before the project starts; otherwise, you will need to enlist your senior engineer to spend time teaching a programming language and a test automation framework to the test automation team.

Provide Support

Provide Support

Test automation is a team effort. In order for it to be effective and provide a great return on investment, the test automation team must be supported. When creating scripts, the test automation team will need to find locators on the application in order to carry out UI automation. The development team can support this by having updated and easy-to-use IDs and classes that makes the application easier to automate. They can also create and maintain unit tests and help to build out any pipelines that may be needed. The product team can support the test automation efforts by including test automation in the definition of done for team stories and estimating tasks with test automation in mind. The team needs to have a mindset to support the test automation team; otherwise, it will be an uphill battle and more difficult for them to properly create, execute, and maintain the test automation project. 

Support is needed from all levels; developers and the product team are not the only ones who can support the test automation team. Managers and other stakeholders can also offer support by allowing the team certain freedom in choosing (rather than dictating) tools that are right for the job. Managers can ensure the team size is correct, and that they have adequate time to complete the test automation tasks. Managers and other stakeholders can support the team by setting realistic expectations for test automation metrics. For example, having 100% of all tests automated or having test automation both set up and completed in two weeks is unrealistic, and it will not help the team produce the best quality and most effective scripts.

Overall, in preparing your team for test automation, you should have a solid strategy they understand, specific roles and responsibilities, and a mixture of junior and senior engineers who have been properly trained and are supported by management and their team.

About the Author

Julia is the Training and Development Manager at QualityWorks with expertise in manual, automated, and API testing and training. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and experience and contributes to the testing community through writing articles, and delivering testing content on Test Automation University as well as her Youtube Channel and blog. She also conducts testing Bootcamps for persons interested in entering the field of QA.


Looking for ways to accelerate your testing process with automation? Reach out to our testing team at www.qualityworkscg.com

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Stakeholders: Three Powerful Agile Questions You Should be Asking https://qualityworkscg.com/stakeholders-three-powerful-agile-questions-you-should-be-asking/ https://qualityworkscg.com/stakeholders-three-powerful-agile-questions-you-should-be-asking/#respond Thu, 29 Apr 2021 18:21:53 +0000 https://qualityworkscg.com/?p=218234 The post Stakeholders: Three Powerful Agile Questions You Should be Asking appeared first on QualityWorks Consulting Group.

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By Sheyinka Harry

As stakeholders, we are sometimes so focused on pushing our teams to get the product out that we lose sight of the full scope of the role we play in the product delivery process. Being a stakeholder on a project isn’t just about making new product backlog requests or attending the demos and giving feedback to the teams. Operating in this role is also heavily about asking questions to ensure the teams we lead are doing their best work and have what they need.

What Joan Cheverie said in her article rings true. Asking good questions with the aim of honest information gathering and collaboration is good practice for leaders and managers. By asking questions, project stakeholders help to foster an environment where teams feel comfortable discussing the many issues that affect both the product and their performance. This, in turn, creates a foundation for deepened levels of trust, increased morale and innovation, and enhanced productivity.

To be even better stakeholders, there are three questions discussed below that you should be asking your teams throughout your projects.

1. How can we get the work done more efficiently?

How can we get the work done more efficiently?

Efficiency looks at the ratio of useful work completed by the team in relation to the total work to be done to reach that end goal. Taking it a step further, efficiency is the extent to which time is well used by the team for an intended task. 

Stakeholders can work with teams to ensure useful work is ever-present at the forefront of minds by setting aside time and making the effort to prioritize the work in the Product Backlog. Prioritization is a joint effort between the Product Owner (PO) and the stakeholders; it zones in on what must be done now, as compared to what needs to be done later. In these prioritization sessions, the PO shares the perspectives of the team to help inform the decisions of the stakeholders as they deliberate on what should be developed next. Prioritization ultimately results in deliverables that satisfy the requirements of the customer — with the objective of delivering the maximum business value in the least amount of time.

Aside from ranking the backlog items, efficiency can also be achieved by making sure teams are able to maximize their productivity with minimum wasted effort. The end game is to lower costs while still producing quality work that the customers need. In doing this, it must be ensured that the team is working at a sustainable pace to reduce the occurrence of burnout. A great way to have an efficient team is to ask them what they need to remain focused on the tasks at hand. Oftentimes, the adjustment needed may mean revising current processes for greater throughput. Making these adjustments early will see huge cost reductions in the long run, resulting in issues being avoided and the team maximizing their efforts from the start.

2. How can we get the work done faster?

How can we get the work done faster?

Stakeholders want their teams to be able to accomplish their tasks quickly. No one wants to look at a product backlog and see that the tickets aren’t moving across the swimlanes at a rapid pace. Worse yet is going to demos and hearing over and over again that the work committed to wasn’t completed. The comment “We aren’t working fast enough” is often brought on by the need to beat competitors, and when framed as a bad remark, it can cause resentment and frustration from the teams. If framed as a question, however, stakeholders have a better chance of discovering the root and addressing the underlying cause of the perceived slow pace. 

Getting things done faster isn’t solely about beating the competitors to market. We want teams that release quickly overall, because teams that release the fastest learn the most. The Scrum philosophy encourages teams to release early and often since it creates a tight feedback loop between them and the users. With this tighter loop, the software better conforms to the users’ needs, thus increasing its value to customers, encouraging higher quality software, and ensuring cost-effectiveness. 

3. Can we make this experience simpler?

Can we make this experience simpler?

Inquiring about simplicity prompts the delivery team to take a step back and examine their work once again with fresh eyes. Simplifying the experience can achieve two things: 

  1. It ensures the problem being solved is understood by the team. You can’t attempt to simplify a solution without fully understanding what the end goal is.
  2. It ensures that what is being developed is practical and useful. Again, simplicity focuses on the things needed and forgoes parts of the solution that are frivolous. 

Remember, simple things are easier to achieve than complicated ones. We want to encourage our teams to focus on the simple way to get the customer what they want, and then later add the complicated bits/bells and whistles to enhance the product. It is also important to ensure that shortcuts aren’t being taken while assessing the possibility of making the experience simpler. After all, shortcuts can cause complex experiences.

It really is a joint effort to get quality products out. In pushing our teams to be better, we must make the necessary changes in our execution as stakeholders to ensure we are playing our parts as well. The biggest change we can make is to ask our teams questions that will allow them to become better. We need to listen carefully to the responses, so we can put things in place to have our teams moving quickly, efficiently, and doing the simple things to satisfy our customers’ needs. Ask these questions, and in no time you’ll see a spike in innovation, morale, and productivity!

Check out part 1 of the Agile Questions series for Six Powerful Questions Every Agile Team Member Should Ask.

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Faces of QualityWorks – Brittany Stewart https://qualityworkscg.com/faces-of-qualityworks-brittany-stewart/ https://qualityworkscg.com/faces-of-qualityworks-brittany-stewart/#respond Tue, 27 Apr 2021 20:27:01 +0000 https://qualityworkscg.com/?p=218230 The post Faces of QualityWorks – Brittany Stewart appeared first on QualityWorks Consulting Group.

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Faces of QualityWorks - Brittany Stewart

Brittany Stewart is a Senior QA Consultant at QualityWorks. She has successfully led and participated in testing projects that span across multiple industries, helping organizations improve and execute test strategies for both web and mobile applications. Brittany is also a proud wife and a boy mom. Describing herself as a Jane of all trades, she manages to balance being a graphics designer, interior designer, wife, and mother with her role as Senior QA Consultant.

 

How long have you been at QualityWorks?

I have been with QualityWorks for over 4 years. I started as a Graphic Designer with the company rebranding back in 2015-2016. I later transitioned to Executive Administrative Assistant to our CEO. Soon after I was listed as Company Secretary and then moved into the Tech world in 2017. I have been doing a mixture of all these roles since then. 

 

What are your roles at QualityWorks? 

At QualityWorks, I play the role of Senior QA Consultant, helping our clients create and maintain high quality software and QA processes. Additionally, I work as Graphic Designer for our internal projects and Interior Designer for our office space.  I’m also the Company Secretary, so I ensure all things on the business end of QualityWorks are taken care of locally. 

 

What are you most passionate about?

I am a creative at heart. I’m passionate about functional design. I love to see websites and applications looking great but also accounting for the user experience in the process. Additionally, in my physical spaces at home and at work, I’m always trying to find ways to improve on space efficiency and overall flow

 

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I entered the Miss Teen Jamaica Pageant when I was about 16 years old and did an interview with a lady via podcast in Atlanta. During the interview, she asked about my aspirations, and I remember telling her that my biggest dream was to have my logos and designs on a billboard.  Since then I’ve designed graphics that have reached much further than just a billboard. 

 

What is one thing you can’t live without?

My Journal. It’s my closest companion outside of my family and close friends. I carry it wherever I go so I can note how I’m feeling and any experiences I have. I hope to publish them as a book/biography later on in my life as part of my legacy.

 

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Creative, ambitious, kind.

 

What is your favorite quote?

I have many favorite quotes, but my most favorite is, “If you are going to do something, do it well or not at all” – My mom, Deborah Chattersingh. 

 

Check out Brittany’s Mind Mapping article on our blog!  

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The Hire Diverse Testers Initiative https://qualityworkscg.com/the-hire-diverse-testers-initiative/ https://qualityworkscg.com/the-hire-diverse-testers-initiative/#respond Fri, 09 Apr 2021 16:55:58 +0000 https://qualityworkscg.com/?p=218120 The post The Hire Diverse Testers Initiative appeared first on QualityWorks Consulting Group.

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Bringing Highly Qualified, Trained Experts From Varied Backgrounds 

to the Forefront of Quality Assurance

 

The software testing industry exudes potential on all fronts. There is more promise for moving up in the field than in almost any other industry. The average starting salary for a Quality Assurance Tester is $40,000 – $60,000 per year. Software testing is one of the most in-demand jobs in the tech market – with over 9,000 unfulfilled jobs in the US alone in 2020. The learning curve associated with breaking into quality assurance is very low: 24% of testers became testers “by accident,” and 65% of testers learned by “just doing it.” Plus, this market won’t be going away anytime soon.

 

Simultaneously, as of 2020, Black families have a median household income of just over $41,000, while white families have a median household income of almost twice that.

 

While the tech industry has been boasting about increasing diversity in the field since 1990, there has been little reported change. Even the biggest companies, with millions of eyes watching and waiting for improvement, are doing little to actually achieve their diversity promises. A Wired survey estimated the combined Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous population at 5% for Silicon Valley firms. The share of Black technical workers at Apple is unchanged at 6%, less than half of the African Americans’ 13% share of the US population. 

 

Big tech’s excuse? “There just aren’t enough qualified people of color to hire.”

 

While the wage gap rages on, there are thousands of quality assurance jobs with higher earnings waiting to be filled. At the crux of this disparity, the public is calling upon big tech companies to expand diversity while they scapegoat lack of training. 


The solution to this ironic conundrum? Provide training and mentorship to a pool of diverse professionals seeking to transition into tech and smother big tech’s biggest gripe. 

 

The year 2020, a challenging year for all, caused unemployment rates to skyrocket as high as 16% and inspired thousands to reevaluate their career choices and shift their focus. The QualityWorks Consulting Group seized the opportunity to combat this issue by creating the Hire Diverse Testers Initiative, a free six-week training program to learn in-demand testing skills for a new career in tech. Priority was given to BIPOC applicants. 

  1. https://theqalead.com/topics/2020-software-testing-trends-qa-technologies-data-statistics/
  2. Szapiro, Aron (October 6, 2020). “Can Baby Bonds Shrink the Racial Wealth Gap?”. Morningstar.com. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  3. https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2020/unemployment-rate-16-point-1-percent-in-massachusetts-4-point-5-percent-in-utah-in-july-2020.htm#:~:text=U.S.%20unemployment%20rate%3A%2010.2%25%20in%20July%202020

Through the first training program, the Hire Diverse Testers project has built a pool of talented testing professionals with a makeup of over 80% Black, 75% women, and 12% Latinx. 

 

So far, it’s working. Earlier this year, the program successfully placed four testers into testing positions just two months after graduation. The four graduates who were hired by Criteria Corp and Equinox Media will continue mentorship with the QualityWorks team throughout their endeavors.

 

The Hire Diverse Testers Initiative is calling upon more companies to fill software testing roles with qualified BIPOC candidates. 

 

To make the search even easier, we would like to highlight a few graduates for consideration.

MEET THE TESTERS

Nicole

Background

Nicole is from New York and started out her professional career in the communications industry, transitioning from Marketing and PR to writing to teaching. In 2013, she got her Master’s Degree in Special Education and has been teaching Special Education in high school for more than 11 years. 

 

Transition Into Tech

“As a Special Education Teacher, my main job was to make the curriculum accessible to students who have learning disabilities. I used technology every day to make this possible.” – Nicole

 

Nicole completed a coding Bootcamp a year ago and discovered that her introduction to tech through teaching complemented her QualityWorks training quite well. She has built a keen understanding of web development throughout the cycle. She found testing to be very similar to her current role as a Clinical Special Education teacher, often finding herself analyzing data to identify students’ difficulties and coming up with solutions for that data. She found parallels in searching for bugs: when something was not working, she naturally analyzed the issue and came up with the best solution. 

 

She is excited to see where her newfound knowledge takes her and doesn’t feel confined to Educational Technology or testing in and of itself, eager to bring all of her experience to the table: “I’m hoping that my new skills make me a well-rounded developer and tester so that I’m able to utilize all my skills in whatever job I do.”

 

Brendan

Background

Brendan is from Kansas City and moved to San Diego to attend his dream school. He worked in various service industry jobs to establish residency and support himself through his education as a mechanical engineer. However, he soon realized that was not the path he wanted to pursue, because he knew he was a nerd and wanted to incorporate his nerdy passions into his career. 

 

Transition Into Tech

He knew he liked the computer and design aspects of robotics, so he taught himself SQL when he was on hiatus from school working to afford tuition. With that basic language knowledge, he then started picking up other programming languages and software. 

 

He came across the Hire Diverse Testers Initiative via a Facebook ad, did some research, and discovered that QualityWorks was Black-owned. From there he was simply hooked. 

 

The program has served as a superb jumping-off point for Brendan: “I am looking forward to getting into the tech industry and finding my niche, whether that’s inequality analytics or software. I feel like once you get in, you can branch-off in any or many directions.”

 

Cindy

Background

Cindy is from the Caribbean and migrated to New York when in grade school. She has been living in Washington, D.C. since her family moved there in the early 2000s. Cindy began her professional career in Telecommunications: understanding projects, coordinating projects and designing the infrastructure of the actual circuits. When she transitioned into IT, her company asked her to move, but she did not want to uproot her ties in Washington, so she declined and searched for a new opportunity. She bounced into a real estate position at a small company, but lost that position in May of 2020 because the company gravely suffered as a result of the pandemic.

 

Transition Into Tech

When news of the QualityWorks Bootcamp fell into her lap, she jumped at the opportunity to learn a different aspect of technology. To her, testing is all about attention to detail, a muscle she is familiar with throughout her Project Management career. 

 

While testing differs somewhat from Cindy’s experience, she brings all of herself to the table and understands what it takes to be a successful tech professional in any position: “You have to bring your willingness to learn. Whether it’s testing or any other field, you have to be a good team player and bring a good attitude, integrity, and a passion to learn.” 

 

Above all, Cindy is most dedicated to lifting others up and amplifying the voices of the voiceless. For almost 40 weeks now, she’s been volunteering, providing food and toiletries to people in need. “We have to put ourselves in other people’s shoes… What I am really passionate about really is, in a nutshell, promoting the wellbeing of others; I love volunteering and engaging with those who are generally marginalized.”

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Faces of QualityWorks – Chrysannae Mason https://qualityworkscg.com/faces-of-qualityworks-chrysannae-mason/ https://qualityworkscg.com/faces-of-qualityworks-chrysannae-mason/#respond Wed, 07 Apr 2021 21:04:28 +0000 https://qualityworkscg.com/?p=218166 The post Faces of QualityWorks – Chrysannae Mason appeared first on QualityWorks Consulting Group.

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Faces of QualityWorks - Chrysanne Mason

While some would say she’s the life of the party, Chrysannae Mason considers herself to be quite shy. She is often referred to as “Detective Chrys” based on her investigative nature and a keen eye for detail. These traits have certainly proven quite useful in her line of work as a Quality Assurance Consultant. Chrysannae is a perfectionist, which she describes as both a blessing and a curse as a QA. She strongly believes that you are your own biggest competitor; she certainly does not back down from a challenge since her goal is to keep improving herself. In her downtime, Chrysannae enjoys exploring new places and cuisines.

 

How long have you been at QualityWorks?

I’ve been at QualityWorks for almost 9 months.

 

As an Associate QA Consultant, what are some of your duties?

My duties include leading test case management, creating bug reports, meeting with Development and Product teams regarding the features and requirements, and testing and verifying the functionalities of the web and mobile applications.

 

What are you passionate about or interested in? 

I’m very passionate about youth development. The popular song says “Children are our future”, but I’ll tweak that a bit by saying “Youth are our future”. I’ve always found myself in leadership roles within youth groups. Where possible I offer guidance, assistance, and support to youth I come in contact with, whether officially or unofficially.  

 

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

 I cry when watching some movies, even the ones I’ve seen several times before.   

 

What is one thing you can’t live without?

Music. It keeps me sane in this insane world.

 

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Fun-loving, driven, and sincere.

 

What is your favorite book?

My favorite book is Love Does by Bob Goff, because it shows how practical love can and should be. It provides several examples of “a little goes a far way”. It is a well needed reminder that good people still exist, while giving some practical, real life examples, which can prove as a guide to how we as readers can show love to others – if we intend to be the change we want to see. I strongly believe the world would be a better place with a little more love.

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Six Powerful Questions Every Agile Team Member Should Ask https://qualityworkscg.com/six-powerful-questions-every-agile-team-member-should-ask/ https://qualityworkscg.com/six-powerful-questions-every-agile-team-member-should-ask/#respond Wed, 07 Apr 2021 17:50:10 +0000 https://qualityworkscg.com/?p=218180 The post Six Powerful Questions Every Agile Team Member Should Ask appeared first on QualityWorks Consulting Group.

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By Sheyinka Harry

We’ve all undoubtedly experienced times when issues arise during projects and within teams that could have been easily avoided. How, you might ask? Simply by asking the right questions. Having enquiring minds and openly asking questions can help uncover potential challenges and ultimately play a huge part in the generation of optimal solutions to these challenges. Looking closely at the How, Why, When, and Where of a situation is the best way to gain deeper insights and develop more innovative solutions. We are able to get clarity on user needs, product direction, reduction in ambiguity, and greater team alignment on the experience to be constructed and the work needed to get there.

 

In the Agile space, questions are encouraged, and there are even key Scrum ceremonies created to facilitate the teams coming together to achieve group clarity on work to be done. These ceremonies are the Daily Standup, Backlog Grooming, Sprint Planning sessions, and the Sprint Review. They provide an open floor for all members of the product development ecosystem to air their queries. It is very important to note that multiple groups of people are involved in this ecosystem to get a quality experience or product to market. There are Developers, Quality Assurance and DevOps Engineers, stakeholders, and support team members, all working together to achieve an end goal. 

 

So why is it a rarity for questions to be asked despite having these open floors? Why are we so reluctant to come forward with any queries we may have floating around in our heads? Upon some introspection, and in speaking with a fellow Agile coach and transformation lead, Elena Astilleros, we came to the conclusion that teams either don’t know what to ask, or they don’t think they should be asking certain questions. There are also cases in which persons cannot think of pertinent questions until something goes awry and pulls an area of uncertainty into their line of sight.

 

Due to not knowing what to ask, we see many assumptions being made, which oftentimes result in the creation of lackluster experiences that do not meet the customer’s needs. As a means of helping teams overcome this issue, we have gradually developed some powerful Agile questions that everyone in the ecosystem should be asking themselves when defining and engaging in product development activities. We’ve outlined the importance of each question with the hope that teams can engage in more focused and fruitful conversations and leave with joint clarity and understanding.

Discussed below are some of the most powerful questions all team members should ask before and during an Agile project.

1. Why are we doing this?

Why are we doing this?

Are you really doing your best work if you don’t know why you’re doing it? Aligning on that North Star (that is, your Product Vision Statement) is imperative for the success of any initiative – whether long or short term. This statement communicates concisely where the product hopes to go, as well as what it hopes to achieve in the long term. The product team can then use it to derive the short-term hypotheses they will be validating with target customers.

2. Who is this for?

Who is this for?

Knowing the intended audience and taking the time to understand their needs is essential in refining the product to be offered. You need to define the product or service that can be offered, clearly identify the person or business you want to serve, and then tailor this product to their pain points. Different solutions can be engineered, such as if you are defining a solution for a parent as opposed to a child.

3. Who owns the work?

Who owns the work?

If the owner of the work isn’t clear, issues will arise. The owner is the person calling the shots or making the decisions for a particular area. There can be shared work among the team members, but there should be someone who guides and owns the full scope of work to avoid confusion as to who should make the final decisions. A typical example of having an owner for shared work is how stories are worked on in JIRA. On the teams I’ve worked with, these product backlog items are usually broken down into smaller tasks spread across front end, back end, integration, and testing. These tasks are assigned to multiple team members to do the work, but there is a single person owning the actual story. From the business end, there are some line items outside the product features that need to be accomplished before a product can be released to the market. Each of these line items needs to be captured in the backlog in order for the team to be aware of and plan for them. Examples of these are: having Governance messaging, such as Terms & Conditions within the platform being built; or having Risk & Compliance criteria that need to be followed. 

The team needs to know the owner (executive or body) who can be contacted for each piece of work in order to get the correct wording, criteria around the placement, steps to be taken, etc. Anything added to the backlog is articulated by the owner, who can provide the reasoning behind why this is being added. These owners are also the ones to whom the work will be showcased. This helps in identifying demo attendees. If the team doesn’t know the owner, it can cause an unnecessary level of frustration and anger, because rework is often involved due to unclear requirements and the team “winging it”.

4. What information is needed to get the work done?

What information is needed to get the work done?

After having understood what is to be done and where we want to go, we now need to determine if we have all the necessary information to get started. Identifying what information is needed for each phase of the project early in the game preemptively removes blockers and quickens the pace at which the team is able to operate. Less time is wasted grappling to get access to items, and if there are missing items, owners can be identified ahead of time to procure these pieces. Pertinent information (such as access credentials for different repositories and tools, design documents, and schemas for implementation) should be shared once the associated Product Backlog Items are created. Making this information available can ease the stress and strain on your resources.

5. Do we have representation from everyone to be involved in the process?

Do we have representation from everyone to be involved in the process?

When carrying out the work, all teams getting the product or service to customers need to be involved in conversations from the start. This is necessary irrespective of where in the process they fall. Representatives from Operations, Security, Legal, Marketing, etc., should be included from the inception and planning phase to account for all their requirements so that the team can have these items added to their backlog. This can ensure they are not forgotten and can be timelined appropriately. Having this level of inclusion from the start is also necessary to guarantee the proper considerations are being made, so that when it is that team’s time to do the work, the appropriate steps leading up to that point will have already been taken, thus resulting in the facilitation of a seamless and smooth process.

6. Which part of the system will generate the most revenue for the business?

Which part of the system will generate the most revenue for the business?

Revenue can be generated on a platform in two ways:

  1. Directly by allowing customers to make purchases or payments (subscriptions, selling products in a marketplace, etc.).
  2. Indirectly by simply providing relief to customers through ease of use and firm security unlike other similar products on the market. Ensuring these can result in an increase in traffic and overall interaction with the service/platform which will inadvertently lead to an increased Net Promoter Score (NPS). A high NPS is useful for forecasting business growth and cash flow, as well as assessing overall customer satisfaction, and can lead to further buy-in from potential stakeholders. 

Knowing what areas of the system fall within the above two categories will help the QA team focus more of its effort on ensuring these areas are top-notch quality. This will also help the Product Owner with their prioritization efforts to ensure there is a healthy mix of revenue-generating vs. feel-good features being released each Sprint.

These questions are hard-hitting ones that need to be asked on every project in order to guarantee alignment. Bear in mind that they are not the only questions we should be asking. However, they do provide a great starting point. As we listen to the answers being given, we can ultimately formulate additional questions to deepen and cement the understanding of everyone operating in the ecosystem. In future articles, I’ll be zoning in on and exploring which questions each role in the Agile ecosystem should ask to better improve their role.

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How to Transition from a Non-IT Background into Software Testing https://qualityworkscg.com/how-to-transition-from-a-non-it-background-into-software-testing/ https://qualityworkscg.com/how-to-transition-from-a-non-it-background-into-software-testing/#respond Mon, 29 Mar 2021 21:07:44 +0000 https://qualityworkscg.com/?p=218151 The post How to Transition from a Non-IT Background into Software Testing appeared first on QualityWorks Consulting Group.

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Yanique Dickson

Trying to land a job in a slow market is rough. It’s even harder if your area of expertise isn’t the one most in-demand or if you’re hoping to transition into a new career. I know because I’ve been there. I’ve recently transitioned into a career in software testing from a chemical engineering background. Before I decided to transition, I spent years trying to land a job in engineering, and my “tech” knowledge stopped at an introductory IT course at university. I started digging into new career options and discovered I had the skills to be a good software tester. After a few months, I was able to land my first testing role. In this article, I’ll share my experience and give you some tips on how you can transition from a non-IT background into software testing.

Is Software Testing the Right Career for You?

What is Software Testing

Software testing is checking a piece of software to find and report bugs or issues, making sure it is easy to use and something people will want to use, and that it meets functional and non-functional requirements. Software testers also participate in daily meetings, collaborate with developers, and bring innovative ideas to their teams. Frequently these are simple and valuable ideas that may, for example, focus on the quality of the user experience or quality of the product. Certain skills, beyond the technical know-how, make for a good software tester. These include:

  • good communication skills;
  • great attention to detail;
  • being flexible and quick to learn;
  • being a constant learner; and
  • being innovative and analytical.  

Before you decide to transition into software testing, assess your skills to see if it is a good fit for you. Here is a skills assessment quiz you can complete: Is Software Testing Right for You? If you decide to make the transition, think about why you want to transition, and note any skills you have that make you a good fit for the role. Also, make a note of skills you think you may lack; if you are really interested in software testing, you can always work on improving these. It’s important to know your answers since these are questions that employers will likely ask you.

Learn the Basics of Software Testing

Learn the Basics of Software Testing

Coming from a non-IT background, I didn’t know anything about testing outside of what I researched and learned on my own, so naturally, I had to start at the basics. I enrolled in QualityWorks’ Software Testing Bootcamp and was able to learn from experienced testers. This helped me to build a solid foundation, which went a long way when I started working as a tester. Another boot camp option with really good content can be found here on Udemy.

 

You can also choose to take a course. This can be done in addition to a boot camp in order to provide you with more learning experience, or as an alternative if there are no suitable boot camp options. Two courses with amazing content are Software Testing Masterclass (2021) – From Novice to Expert and In-Depth Software Testing Training Course From Scratch.

 

To continuously learn and grow in the testing space, there are tons of resources online that you can take advantage of. These include:

  • Test Automation University, where I have taken a few courses on test automation. It consists of different learning paths that can get you started with automation testing.
  • Ministry of Testing, which has a really good online learning platform. There are courses, podcasts, and a great online community that you can interact with.
  • Test Guild, which also has a large collection of podcasts and blogs on software testing, as well as an online community you can join.

Get a Certification

Get a Certification

Having a software testing certificate will show employers that (1) you have the requisite knowledge, (2) you have put in the work, and (3) you are ready to make the transition you desire. The first step I took in my transition was to get a certification, specifically the ISTQB Certified Tester. I like the ISTQB because it has a wide range of certifications you can take advantage of as you progress in your career, and their certifications are valid for a lifetime. They have comprehensive syllabi equipped with great content that you can use for studying, and they also have sample exams available. For me, the most attractive part of this was only having to pay for the certification exam and nothing else. If you are studying for the ISTQB certification, and you prefer watching videos to reading, here is a YouTube series that covers the Certified Tester syllabus. In addition to the Certified Tester, the channel also has content for other ISTQB certifications. Another good certification for beginners is the Certified Associate in Software Testing certificate; you can visit this page for information about registration, cost, and the syllabus.

Get Experience in Testing

Get Experience in Testing

My first official testing job was part-time at QualityWorks, just a few hours per week. I got to work alongside testing professionals and learn from them, which was an invaluable experience. A few months later, I was able to land a full-time position at the company. It’s important to remember that, while getting knowledge from courses and having a certificate have their weight, employers may understandably be more willing to hire more experienced persons. While this may not always be the case, be open to entry-level positions such as internships, part-time positions, and even freelance testing gigs. These opportunities are good for getting into the world of testing and will be the building blocks for a great resume. While you wait on a permanent testing role, do some research to find companies in your area or companies that remotely offer part-time or internship jobs. If you are interested in freelance testing jobs, you can check out websites like uTest and Upwork as well.

Start Your Transition

Start Your Transition

If you believe you have the skills to be a good tester, don’t be afraid to jump in and start learning. Go for that certification if you need more leverage to start working as a tester. Believe me, when I started learning, I had my doubts, but after getting my certificate, going through the boot camp, and getting my first testing job, I realized I had nothing to fear — and the only thing left for me to do was continued self-improvement.

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4 Steps to Being an Empowered QA Professional https://qualityworkscg.com/4-steps-to-being-an-empowered-qa-professional/ https://qualityworkscg.com/4-steps-to-being-an-empowered-qa-professional/#respond Fri, 26 Mar 2021 15:48:17 +0000 https://qualityworkscg.com/?p=218124 The post 4 Steps to Being an Empowered QA Professional appeared first on QualityWorks Consulting Group.

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By Kadaine Williams

Software testing is often seen as a redundant and rudimentary process of clicking a few buttons and validating to see if the desired outcome is achieved. This shortsighted view is held by many individuals outside of the Software Testing community, and as such, the Quality Assurance (QA) process is sometimes seen as a “nice to have” rather than an essential piece of the Software Development Life Cycle. With this in mind, the role of a QA professional is treated as a task that can be performed by anyone and everyone within an Agile team.

During my first few months as a QA engineer, I was often challenged during the Sprint Planning sessions whenever I gave an estimation of how long it would take to test a ticket. Although I could understand the need for the wider team to know the reasons behind my estimates, I did not appreciate constantly being told to reduce the time to test because there was a deadline on the horizon. This situation felt like a double-edged sword because whenever the time to test is reduced, the QA engineer runs the risk of missing bugs within the application, which would not reflect well on the QA team. I also noticed that developers were rarely questioned when they estimated their tickets. The QA process felt undervalued and by extension, I started to feel demotivated to fulfill my role. I am quite certain that many QA professionals have experienced similar issues throughout their careers. This article will explore the steps every QA professional should take to feel empowered within a team — and to gain the respect they deserve.

Know Your Role

Know Your Role

In 2021, the role of a QA professional has evolved far beyond the boundaries of manual testing. Software testers should therefore not limit themselves to the manual click of buttons to verify that an application is ready for production. According to a CISQ 2020 report,The total cost of poor software quality in the U.S. is estimated at $2.08 trillion.” This report signifies the relevance of QA professionals providing reputable guidance and quality testing to reduce the cost associated with poorly developed software. To ensure that the best quality in software is developed and maintained, we must extend our testing to include the usability and performance of the application. 

The rapid emergence of automated testing provides an opportunity for software testing to become more efficient and less time-consuming. Automation can also be used to assist in API testing, which provides a more convenient approach to verify that the API responses are as expected. Performance testing is also an avenue for every QA professional to (1)  explore where validation can be done to ensure the application performs well under a specified workload, and (2) determine the amount of traffic an application can handle at a given time. QA professionals are the gatekeepers between a developed software and its end-user; this means we should be aware of our roles and not allow ourselves to be limited by the expectation of persons outside our field.

Own Your Role

Pwn Your Role

With the misconception held by many that a QA professional’s role is rudimentary, it is important to step outside of the box and change that narrative. If the team only expects you to perform manual testing, then you are operating in a limited capacity as a software tester. The term “quality” represents a high standard, so we are expected to ensure that application functionality, performance, and usability are top-notch.

Have you ever felt skeptical about the design or workflow of an application feature and did not highlight it to the wider team, only to have the same issue be identified by a user during User Acceptance Testing (UAT) or while the application is in production? These scenarios remind us as QA professionals that we should embrace our roles and responsibilities and never shy away from highlighting issues that may affect the quality of the software. The look and experience of using software also make up the quality of the software and by extension should be validated by QA professionals before the end-users interact with the application. If QA professionals shy away from highlighting issues, we run the risk of compromising the quality of the software. So own your role and let your voice be heard.

Learn the Fundamentals of Software Development

Learn the Fundamentals of Software Development

If you have worked in multiple software development teams, you know that we QA professionals sometimes do not get the respect we deserve. The low technical expectation of QA professionals has limited the respect we have gotten over the years. To help combat this issue, we must accept the fact that software testing and software development are correlated. The best developers will test their code appropriately to ensure it works as expected before deploying it to the QA environment. Also, the best QA professionals will ensure that, at a minimum, we understand the basics of software development to have a better insight into how to approach testing a feature based on its implementation. In addition, having software development knowledge improves communication between QA professionals and developers by allowing the QA professionals to understand technical terms and jargon used by the developers. This will assist in eliminating time spent between developers and QA professionals to clarify development related tickets before testing begins.

Understanding CSS and JavaScript are also essential in writing automated scripts to reduce the need for manual testing efforts. Knowledge of APIs and backend development helps QA professionals to better understand errors and bugs encountered while testing an application. Additionally, competency in database management assists in creating queries to validate data stored from the application into the database. With fundamental web and mobile development knowledge, QA engineers will therefore be able to take their craft to the next level and stand their ground as a valuable technical asset to the team.

Know The Project Industry

Know The Project Industry

As QA professionals, we have the privilege to test applications across many different industries. These include health, entertainment, banking, and education, just to name a few. However, without an understanding of the project industry, the test cases created may not capture all the necessary areas and testing scenarios relevant to upholding the quality of the application. It is therefore important for QA professionals to seek an understanding of the project industry to ensure their testing efforts are properly channeled. My recommended approach is for QA professionals to meet with the Product Owner to gain a better understanding of both the project industry and the objectives of the application. With knowledge of the industry and the goals of the application, the test cases created will be adequately written to cover the critical scenarios and features of the application. Once the test plan and test cases are aligned with the application industry, the quality of the product will be better suited for the end-user.

Imagine what a software development cycle would be like without the Quality Assurance process. Undoubtedly, there would be plenty of bug-infested applications, causing users to feel skeptical about these products. With software quality assurance playing a vital role in the development of a successful application, it is integral for us as QA professionals to take the necessary steps to empower ourselves. Knowing our roles and responsibilities allows for us to not limit ourselves, but rather to make the necessary changes for continuous improvement. Owning our roles assists in fulfilling our goals to facilitate the best quality application to end-users. Learning the fundamentals of development allows for better communication between QA professionals and developers, and it also improves a QA professional’s testing ability. Knowing our project industry helps in the building of test cases to cover critical areas of the application to ensure that quality meets the expectation of end-users. Once these steps are undertaken, QA professionals will be empowered and ready to facilitate quality applications to end-users.

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