Optimize teams for software testing on a small budget If you feel that internal resources are running low relative to demand, you’re not alone. At the 2022 Women of Silicon Valley conference, speakers touched on the difficulty of acquiring and retaining resources, preparing teams for change, and optimizing software testing on a small budget. At the most basic level, the requirements of the software dev process, from designing, coding, and testing, are enormous. Senior-level QA managers may feel under-resourced, but the solution isn’t as simple as hiring more QEs and chucking in more automated tools to handle the growing internal QA demands. QA teams often have to turn on a dime to meet the needs of specific products, versions, or clients. Still, strategies to smooth the transition can help. Start by creating a resilient team that can take on higher-value projects and prove their indisputable business value. Then, continuously optimize your existing testing resources and enable a high-performance team prepared for change. Focus employees on high-value tasks First, start with the people and tools you have. As a leader, the people around you are your most significant resource. If budgets are tight and flexibility or growth is stagnant, remember that you can flex your team to tackle shifting priorities. Hiring isn’t always an option — and that too would bring additional optimization challenges. Optimize your internal team to automate or delegate rote, low-level tasks and focus on in-depth, high-level work as much as possible. Keep talented devs and senior testers engaged with the higher business goals and QA missions — focusing on quality and consistency over perfection. Strategies to keep your team focused on high-level work: Increase individual autonomy on P1 issues Automate rote and repetitive test cases, test runs Reexamine, and potentially fuse manual and automated testing strategies Create more comprehensive, less frequent runs Reduce idle capacity with a per-hour third party testing team that can flex in/out as needed Evaluate the balance of shift left/right to reduce friction in the QA process Leverage additional tools, including an outsourced testing team Anchor work on KPIs and business impact Engineering teams (and truthfully, even testing teams) face bottlenecks with testing. While engineers are sprinting to keep up with speed, testers are slowing down the process for quality assurance. This complicated relationship can leave teams at odds with each other and struggling to see the “why” behind testing and QA work. “The first way to optimize your team is to start anchoring your team’s work on real business impact,” said Elnaz Moshfeghian, director of engineering at Alto Pharmacy. Moshfeghian recommends a four-part approach to anchoring work on business impact: 1. Focus 80% of your team’s efforts on one initiative2. Make it regularly measurable (both qualitative and quantitative) 3. Deliver results at least once a month 4. Tie progress back to the bigger picture Create a team story that builds a psychological framework for the team to focus on. Hone your QA team on testing and quality and pick primary goals/focuses for the quarter. Have ambitious goals, but make them regularly measurable. Data can be messy, but invaluable to tying back your work to larger goals and the bigger picture, both on your team and business. Prepare for change With rapid tech development and the shifting global workforce, sticking to the status quo when utilizing high-performance teams can feel like playing catch-up. Instead, embrace change and prepare for it. As global commitments wane during the summer and employees turn over, evaluate and adjust metrics to fit goals of software testing on a small budget. Get your team prepared for change by: Adjusting goals, KPIs, and output when teams change Creating honest conversations around workload and burnout Focus experiments and new goals with clear frameworks to measure success Processing progress monthly Regularly update test design documentation and best practices Create open flows of conversations with upper management and stakeholders about flexible and agile metrics rather than force stagnant KPIs regardless of team structure. Preparing for change also means looking toward the future and ensuring that your current team and tools are up for the hearty job of securing quality across your products and offerings. Testlio was live at the 2022 Women of Silicon Valley conference. This piece garners insight from the “Enabling High-Performance Teams with Limited Resources” presentation.