Nobody Likes QA—But Everyone Needs It

Posted By Brandon Bowlby In Digital Strategy 10/14/2015

Quality Assurance (QA) has a bad rep. Let’s face it. Nobody likes QA, because we get in the way, we slow development down, we step on people’s toes, and we tell you what you’re doing wrong. But everyone needs it. Developing code without QA is synonymous to writing a novel without an editor. Are you beginning to see the impasse here? Conflict becomes inevitable. So let me help you.

Here are four ways QA can reduce the flames on an already heated project:

Adapt
Every Project Manager (PM) and team has a different way of organizing, tracking, and proposing ideas. QA often has the shortest stint on a given lifecycle. This means we bounce in and out of different projects frequently. A team is already deep into their timeline by the time we come on board. Adapting to behaviors and going with their flow, instead of grinding all the gears, goes a long way in keeping the peace. Keep your ears open, find the culture of the team, and work within those bounds.

Connect
Most projects will not always have a designated BA. In such cases, it becomes important to build good connections with the lead developer. This teammate should become your closest ally and best friend. You will most likely have millions of questions to ask while you ramp up on the details,  so building this comfortable relationship will be key to the rest of the project going smoothly. People are always much more willing to help a ‘friend’ then they are a ‘stranger’.

Ask
We have a Project Manager for a reason. Keyword = MANAGE. Everyone likes to think they know what the client wants. And everyone likes to think they know what vague requirements are ‘trying‘ to say. Instead of heated back and forth  JIRA ticket debates  of “this says—but—that says”, let the decision go to your PM to draw the fine line. Just make sure to be ready to go with the flow once that decision is made (even if it is not the one you initially were advocating for).

Relax
Yes, we are the last line of defense in the project lifecycle. There is nobody in between your testing and the client’s review of the product. This can add a lot of pressure and expectation. We always care about our work, but make sure not to not care “too” much. There is a fine line here that is hard to describe. If you are confident in what you are doing, there actually is less to stress about than you might think. No matter what inevitable details will slip through the cracks, when the deadline comes, keeping cool is what will bring you and the team to the finish.

Putting these four ideas into action will yield positive changes. Remember, we will work with our teammates again on another project down the line, so keeping low temperatures is always key. In the famous words of Manchester Orchestra…“You Brainstorm, I Brainstorm, but Brilliance Needs a Good Editor.”


Brandon Bowlby is a Quality Assurance Analyst at DOOR3. What are your thoughts on the role of QA in software development projects? Let us know by commenting below.

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