People often relate quality assurance departments to just finding bugs.

This is bullshit.

QA is more than just uprooting bugs. While it may be an integral part of our job that we will never leave behind, it goes far beyond that.

QA is about extrapolating quality.

Effective QA teams organize together and span cross many departments. Being a QA person is not an exclusive role. In other words, you can be a QA tester and a software engineer, or a designer, or a product manager.

A QA team isn’t built up of only testers. It’s the entire company.

How do you get separate departments to focus with quality in mind?

Define Clear Roles.

Assign clear roles and responsibilities to each person on your team.

Defining roles removes redundancy. Your team can cover the entire scope of the project with high efficiency.

For example, are reviewers assigned to only look over and approve/reject issue submissions? Are they also looking for bugs as well? Another example is the scope of a tester. Are they focused on only one section of the app? Or is it just a team of testers testing the entire app?

None of these situations are wrong. But by stating boundaries your team will know their limits and responsibilities.

A trait of a strong team is individual ownership. Your team must consist of members who are able to take ownership and responsibility.

Let each team member focus on one area. This will create a high level of expertise for that person. This spread across all sections of your app will create holistic coverage. By making people focus in one area, you will condition them to become an expert for that task.

Peter Thiel utilized this tactic when managing his team at Paypal. He assigned each person to be responsible for one task. He refused to speak to his team members about anything outside of that one task.

First integrate QA and Engineering, then the rest of the company

QA and engineering need to work together.

Developers often forget about user quality and focus on the quality of their code. Having great code is important. Having a great product is necessary. Your users care more about its interactiveness than the code behind it.

Break down your company’s barriers. When testers test in a vacuum it creates a closed environment. This stymies any motivation to reach out to developers or other testers for help. When the development team and testing team are together, they can solve problems together.

A QA tester tends to have the entire product in mind while a developer focus on the issue at hand.

Keep these two together. One created the problem and the other discovered it. Put them together and they will find a solution to fix it right.

So how do you actually get these two teams to work together under a cohesive unit?

First, create common goals.

Common goals unifies your team. When a group of people have a common task, they seek each other’s help to get the job done. When they rely on each other, they work together.

It isn’t easy to make this happen. After you set common goals, you need to get everyone to use a common platform. This helps your team track their progress in real-time. These tools serve as a great way to keep everyone on the same page.

It’s common for your team to want to revert back to old processes. Don’t go back to the spreadsheet. Let your team know how important it is to keep everyone together. If a single person deviates, this could cause a massive overlap and create redundancy.

If you’re looking for a great platform for your team, Testlio is a great place to look. Other reputable platforms are QASymphony and TestRails.

Motivation is key

Nothing serves as a stronger motivator than letting people do what they love to do.

Developers and testers are two different types of people. Developers love to create while testers love to break.

A common pattern in startups is to turn their engineers into QA testers. This can be effective, but you will have two major drawbacks.

First, you will end up killing motivation for your developers. They joined your company to be a developer, not a QA tester. When you take people away from what they love, they will stop working as hard.

Second, you will not be able to extrapolate the full potential quality of your app. Professional software testers know the tools and strategies to get the job done better. Professional testers are able to emulate a real user experience. After working on the code, your developers will build a biased connection. Your users will not be as friendly to your app as your developers.

Quality is everyone’s responsibility

People get caught up on the input of their work and forget about the user experience. This is by far the most important aspect of an app.

Quality is the key component of whether a user will stick around and use the app or not. Desire will always be a large factor. If your app isn’t adequate your users will stop using your app or go to your competitor.

This focus needs to spread across the entire company. Quality isn’t just the responsibility of the QA team, it’s everyone’s. No matter what your position is, you need to be focusing on the end user experience. Users don’t care what it took to build your app. What they care about is whether it actually delivers its intended purpose.

If your app delivers on its promise then your users will come back.

Conclusion

Building a QA team goes beyond your testers. It’s the entire company. When you start building a QA team, it needs to involve your entire company. Do not overlook these vital points:

  1. Define clear roles
  2. Integrate QA and development
  3. Create common goals
  4. Motivation is key
  5. Quality is everyone’s responsibility

I would love to hear any experiences you’ve had with building your QA team. If you have any suggestions you’d like to see feel free to post them in the responses below. You can also tweet them to me @willietran_ as well.

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