Developing Quality-Focused Talent Across Your Business

Quality should not be the sole responsibility of a small group within the development organization. Here’s one way business leaders can help make quality an organization-wide priority.

QA is essential for the success of any business that develops software. It’s critical for ensuring that your products not only have as few bugs as possible, but also that they create the kinds of outstanding user experiences that your customers have come to expect. QA has historically been the responsibility of a small, often siloed group within the development organization, but to meet today’s customer demands, it has to be a priority for the entire business.

The reality is that if you’re a business leader, that means you’re left with two choices. The first is to get into the weeds and try to develop the right quality-focused talent across the business yourself. Realistically, however, that’s not a viable option. The alternative is to rely on your quality assurance leadership to do this work for you.

The good news is that QA leaders are uniquely positioned to do so and can make QA teams very effective at ensuring that testing runs smoothly, and at the pace of the business, across the entire software development lifecycle. But in order to do their job well, they need your support.

Let’s take a closer look at why QA managers are so important and what you can do to help facilitate their work to get the best result.

A Unique Perspective

QA managers play an important role in any organization. That’s because they are responsible for fostering developer-tester alignment, and for ensuring that test cases align with requirements — in other words, that the application does what the business intends. Not only that, but QA managers have access to lots of information, including all of the metrics that paint a picture of the overall quality of a given release. As such, they have valuable insights into what is and isn’t working across the entire software development lifecycle. From their vantage point, they’re positioned to see the big picture, reflect on the overall status of application quality, and identify bottlenecks in the development and testing process. All of that’s critical for effective quality assurance.

Yet to be successful, QA managers need support from their leadership to do their best work. Given that there are so many different people and departments involved in the application development process, that means giving QA managers some level of control so that they can help keep all of the different teams and players on track. Fortunately, there are a few simple things that you can do to help make that happen.

3 Tips to Enable Your QA Managers

Putting your QA managers on a path to success doesn’t have to be complicated. Taking a few basic steps will go a long way in making their jobs easier so that they can do their best work. These include:

1. Help Them Secure the Best Talent

It’s important to set QA managers up so that they’re in a position where they can tap into the best pool of talent possible. And while part of this may include having the budget necessary to pay higher salaries, an equally if not more important part is fostering a culture that will attract the right people. In particular, that means creating a culture where testing is taken seriously and where everyone feels ownership for the products and is proud of what they are working on. Testing is an incredibly valuable function and it’s important to give everyone involved the respect they deserve for their contribution to the business.

2. Ensure That Everyone Is Sufficiently Trained

For quality assurance to be effective, everyone needs to be positioned to do their part well. And since new technologies are constantly arriving on the scene, people involved in the QA process need to receive regular training so that they can stay on top of it all. Consider bringing in a professional trainer for a few days each year, or providing access to sites like Pluralsight for online courses. In particular, focus on providing training for tasks that can’t be automated, such as different types of security or performance tests in unusual situations.

But don’t stop there; the rest of your executive team needs training too. They need it to understand the strategic value of quality to the business and why it’s important to create and nurture a corporate culture that allows it to thrive.

3. Provide the Right Tools

Perhaps most important of all, QA managers need to be able to access metrics from all over the business, including the product and security teams, testing and devops, network engineering, project managers and more. They need to be able to track any array of metrics coming from these and other groups, including:

  • The length of regression test cycles
  • The code coverage of unit tests
  • How long security scans take to run and resolve
  • The number of defects submitted back to developers and leaked in production
  • Where load, performance and stress testing bottlenecks are occurring and why
  • The ratio of developers to testers
  • The number of bugs submitted due to missed requirements, code quality or miscommunications

Being able to access all of this information quickly and easily, without having to ask people for it, is critical. To do that, you need to have a software testing tool that everyone uses and that gives QA managers the real-time information they need to do their job. Such tools can be very helpful when it comes to collating quality metrics and giving QA managers the transparency they need to see into lots of different parts of the business.

When QA managers have access to all of this information, it’s much easier for them to feel ownership over the whole of the product, not just the functional testing. That includes things like network, performance and security, each of which may be out of their control.

Make Testing a Priority

QA managers are the unsung heroes of testing. Without them, quality assurance wouldn’t work nearly as well. And in today’s competitive market, that’s just not an option. Quality can never be an afterthought —it’s too important for getting high-quality products out to market. Instead, you need to foster a culture where QA is valued and where everyone feels a shared sense of responsibility for the success of your products. When you do, you’ll find that the whole development process runs more smoothly, saving you time, money and a whole lot of frustration.

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