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Inside QA Management at Testlio with Kristi

How did you get involved with Testlio?

I started my professional career as a software consultant in a local IT company and eventually moved to the QA engineer role there. That’s how I discovered my true passion – software testing. And I’ve been in love with it ever since. That’s also the place where several years later I met Kristel, one of the founders of Testlio. And after hearing about the idea of Testlio and the fact that Kristel and Marko are going to the hackathon with the idea, I couldn’t resist the curiosity and signed up to the platform as a tester. Soon after I started to work as a Community Test Lead on Testlio platform and eventually Kristel invited me to officially join the Testlio team. That seemed like a dream come true and of course I said “Yes!”.

I’ve had a lot of different roles here — I started out as a customer happiness manager and I was the 5th team member. As a small but devoted team, we didn’t yet know about all the different potential roles in a testing service company. So we were very dynamic – everyone did everything.

So over the past few years, we’ve grown and matured as an organization, which also means that we’ve learned more and more about the nature of the business as well as what our customers need and value. Previously we had QA Managers who handled all aspects of customer testing projects. Since then we’ve split that role into two — QA Project Managers and Test Leads — to allow team members to focus on their particular strengths, whether that’s building successful client relationship and managing their testing activities or rather working closely with our testers community and coordinating the more technical activities of testing itself.

The project management work in Testlio is somewhat different that you’d typically imagine – let’s say it’s more special… 🙂 Our QA Project Managers are immersed in their clients’ testing projects and take the full ownership of their execution from A to Z. They identify our client’s’ requirements and needs, build a suitable testing strategy around it and organize the efforts for a timely delivery. Our project managers don’t just manage testing budgets; they’re building successful client relationships and helping teams launch their products daily. And Test Leads are our connection to our testers and ensure we deliver high-quality results in a timely manner.

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Earth. Wind. Fire.

Go on…

When I interview our QA Project Manager and Test Lead candidates, I say it often looks like we do routine work, but that’s far from the truth. We work with fast-moving clients in a wide range of industries with even a wider range of requirements and needs. Things appear calm until something dramatic happens. And that’s what makes it fun and interesting here!

As Kristel says: Testlio is like a rollercoaster — unless you’re on it, you might not know exactly what it’s like.

Describe leading the QA team at Testlio.

My role as a QA team lead definitely differs from the one in a typical software development organization. From one side I’m leading an awesome team of Project Managers and Test Leads and on the other hand, I’m ensuring that we deliver the best possible testing service to our team’s clients. Keeping our clients happy is an essential part of our job.

And as you figured out by now we do not have any in-house testers in our QA team. Instead, we have a diverse community of worldwide testers who are experienced, wetted and passionate about what they do. That’s also another enjoyable part of the job – being able to collaborate with so many good testers across the Globe.

Another reason leading QA at Testlio isn’t like working with an in-house QA team is the variety of work we do on daily basis. We’re managing the quality of other companies’ products — we have to be more versatile than an in-house QA team who focuses day in and day out on the same application or product.

I have to constantly expect the unexpected. Projects come and go — you never know what the day brings. You may run two test cycles one day, or run ten.

What do you see as the impact of your work?

We literally help some of the world’s leading companies to build better apps and deliver inspiring and amazing customer experiences. Let me bring you an example.

Outlook Mobile (formerly known as Acompli) was my first project at Testlio. I was the community test lead, and I remember how quickly that team moved. We offer what’s called app review categorization as part of our service, and I was reviewing user feedback for the Outlook Mobile app on a weekly basis. I would send a report to Acompli on Monday with the bugs we found and the user feedback they had received. By the end of the week I would see many of those suggestions/fixes implemented as part of new app features. That’s what’s important to me — we’re helping companies make business decisions!

On another note, our goal is to understand our clients’ quality related pain points and define the best possible test strategy around solving those and minimizing related risks. Whether they need help in their monthly release’s regression testing coverage, need localization testing for their new features or are interested in a sustainable test automation approach. Ability to understand the pain points that a customer has and partnering up with them to find the best possible solution to their needs is one of the key roles here – at the end of the day, we want to take that extra load of quality concern off their shoulders.

What skills does a good QA Lead at Testlio need?

Although you don’t necessarily need a hands-on experience in software testing then a passion and focused interest in this industry is definitely a must. We’re not doing generic project management; for our clients, we are their QA expert partners. You’re there to help provide solutions, so you need to understand why testing is necessary and valuable.

Another essential ability for me as a Team lead as well as to all our QA Project Managers is to identify customer value and build successful customer relationships. As we’re collaborating with big worldwide brands — such as Microsoft, Salesforce, NBA and CBS Interactive — a customer-centric approach is a key to our success.

Being proactive is great. And if you can actively show clients ways to improve their products, that’s outstanding. Furthermore, QA leads also need to be able to make quick decisions. If we don’t have enough information or something has not gone as expected, especially if we’re in a different time zone, we may not have the opportunity to hop on a call with the client and get their direct feedback.

What about working at Testlio has surprised you?

If we look at it purely from a testing technical perspective then diving into the world of mobile testing has really been a valuable lesson to me. I come from a web testing background. Mobile web testing is pretty straightforward and bugs are usually easily reproducible. Mobile app testing is very different.

Let’s say you install Outlook and start testing and it crashes — it might not be because of Outlook it might have been something totally unrelated — a call or notification, for example. There are simply a lot more variables — if you find a bug there is a 50/50 chance that’s it’s only on happening your device. That lowers the issue severity a lot — what are the chances that the user will end up with all of your requirements?

But if we look at it from a wider scale, the fact that every single person in the company can contribute and impact the business from day one. And there are so many different opportunities to contribute both from Testlio’s own product as well as our client partnership perspective. If you take that and combine it with a group of spirited people then magic starts to happen!

Who in software testing inspires you?

There’s a woman from the Bay Area, Elisabeth Hendrickson, who began her career as a tech writer before getting into QA and eventually founding her own company. Her story shows that software testing isn’t a dead end role; you can build a successful career on it. She’s also into agile development practices which is something I like and value.

And of course I can’t get by without mentioned our founder and CEO Kristel. Her passion and eagerness to change the industry of software testing is such an inspiration to all of us in Testlio.  You honestly start to feel that you indeed can change the World and move mountains together. You just need to decide to do it –  that’s also where our internal mantra “Let’s do it!” is originating from.

Max and Michelle, true Testlions.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give someone looking to join Testlio?

If you’re looking for a job where you’d like to have a personal impact and take ownership, Testlio is the place to be

What I usually say when I interview candidates is: you won’t get bored. When you’re continuously working on the same product, it usually becomes routine, and eventually boring and unsatisfying. But in Testlio, we get the chance to be involved in so many world-known companies and their outstanding products – how cool is that?

Where do you get the energy to shine in your everyday role?

Youtube cat videos! 🙂

I try to surround myself with positive people that share my passion for testing.

What are your favorite things about working at Testlio?

Joining Testlio in the very early stage was a new experience for me – I was not used to the fact that you can make suggestions and your voice is heard. But having seen and experienced that I totally love it!

And of course the team and the never-ending passion. You never stop learning and you will learn something new every day – about yourself, about your teammates, about the clients, about life …

#giveadamn #teamiseverything #challengeyourself

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