Building High-Performing QA Teams

QA teamsA QA team is only as strong as the staff members who fill the ranks, and managers know that any project can be improved with powerhouse personnel. The right people make all the difference, especially in an area that demands experience, expertise and commitment to excellence.

But even highly skilled project managers may not know the best practices involved in the staffing process, making it difficult to piece together the best possible teams for their respective objectives. Managers should follow these guidelines to assemble and lead a high-performing QA team on every new project.

1.) Set Goals First

Before managers even consider recruiting new staff members, they’ll need to determine exactly what they’re looking to accomplish with their quality assurance programs. This requires pinpointing shortcomings in the current strategy, being as specific as possible and including real-world examples.

“The test team must have a vision – clear direction from the management in order to be productive. Otherwise the team will end up heading in different directions,” wrote Methods and Tools contributor Lloyd Roden, who works with Grove Consulting. “State the objectives of the test team and seek approval of these with senior management.”

It’s up to managers to foster a great team dynamic with strategy and software.

This is the stage in which managers should identify their biggest pain points, such as efficiency, effectiveness and documentation. With specific metrics used to track progress, leaders can see for themselves how a given team is improving testing processes.

2.) Recruit Wisely

Once goals are clearly defined, managers can start evaluating candidates for specific positions within the test team. Since individual roles have already been mapped out in the planning phase, decision-makers will know exactly what attributes and characteristics they’re looking for in new testers.

The process should begin, of course, by determining the technical capabilities of potential recruits, and considering how these individuals can work with one another in the context of a team. In his piece for Methods and Tools, Roden offered a matrix of testing styles that can help leaders attain the perfect balance of personalities.

While it’s important to analyze resumes and observe interpersonal traits in the recruitment process, managers must not forget to discuss candidates’ familiarity with agile testing tools and other unique practices used within the organization. Testers who show a willingness to learn and adapt to new environments and tools tend to be the best picks.

[Here are our 20 Best Software Tester Interview Questions]

3.) Be Supportive

With a team of skilled testers ready to take on their new roles, team leaders must rethink their own priorities in managerial positions. Since staffing is more or less complete, these managers should focus on supporting these individuals throughout QA processes, addressing issues in a direct, solution-oriented way.

“A leader who gets their team to click is not afraid to talk about the tough stuff. They find ways to have the difficult conversations in the knowledge that burying problems doesn’t make them go away,” explained organizational leadership expert Phil Harkins in a recent paper for Linkage.

4.) Always Evolve

Managers can’t simply offer support to testers and expect high performance metrics across the board – they need to constantly push their staff members to work harder, smarter and in a more collaborative way. Managers should take direct feedback from testers whenever possible and take action to address their concerns.

It’s also up to these leaders to provide team members with improved testing tools that will help them fulfill their potential. For example, if a QA team is struggling to properly document test data and learn from its mistakes, a manager must focus on strengthening bug reporting tools and deploy a targeted solution.

With new testing tools and a focused, structured team of staff members, an organization can make the most of its testing budget and improve the overall quality of its product.

Every activity in software development has a cost and a value. Getting cost to trend down while increasing value, is the ultimate goal. Download the free eBook “4 Quick Wins to Manage the Cost of Software Testing

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