QA managers play a crucial role in the success of a business by ensuring that software products meet user expectations. They plan and coordinate with QA teams to formulate quality control practices in the organization. They also work to improve an organization’s efficiency and profitability. However, as firms move to agile environments, QA managers face a conundrum.
It becomes complex for managers to understand their role when it is not defined in an agile organization. These professionals know their jobs and responsibilities in a traditional waterfall environment.
QA managers can excel by understanding exactly what is required as they handle agile projects.
QA Manager Role
Let’s see how a QA manager can play an effective role in quality assurance:
When an organization moves towards agile methodologies, development team leads and testers within teams are supposed to manage quality.
When a team is responsible for quality and their efficiency is measured by the quality of code, they tend to deliver high-quality code. Quality becomes an integral part of their planning, development and testing processes. Code quality that is established by measurable results becomes a target for the entire QA team that helps them deliver better code.
However, there is also a negative aspect to this. It takes considerable time and effort for an organization to move to agile practices, before quality can become their competitive edge.
Developers and testers are equipped with highly technical skills and also focus on the technical aspects of QA, such as test automation and tools. They can often be disconnected from management aspects including code, integration and working with customers.
QA is a profession and not just something that a person can do while developing software products. They need to have a proper background and stay up-to-date with the latest test management tools, technologies, and trends.
Setting the Rules
Although agile teams are given independence and responsibility to manage their tasks, the organization as a whole should still function as a single unit.
QA managers should set basic ground rules such as what testing tools should be used, which methodologies they should apply, how to define defect status, etc.
QA managers should also work closely with the R&D managers to define standards, as they determine how the methods are introduced to the teams, how they are trained and how their progress is managed to keep quality at the forefront throughout the development process.
These guidelines help the R&D managers to implement QA processes within their teams and keep them motivated by steering in the right direction.
Building a Team
Each development team has developers with their own area of expertise. One development team may work on the UI, while others focus on the back-end services of an application.
Developers require different types of specialized knowledge for different development projects, just like manual and automated testing. However, test automation may be different, depending on whether working on UI, REST API, etc.
A QA manager plays a crucial role in building a team wisely, with the right number of developers, test engineers and QA experts. They define their roles and responsibilities and also ensure that testers are equipped with the right test management tools to achieve successful projects.
Careful Selection of Quality Metrics
Before evaluating the quality of products, it is compulsory to establish the metrics testers will use to measure it. A QA manager should help development teams in defining their quality metrics.
For instance, how to classify defects? How to define efficiency? What is the regression ratio? What has caused the regression? And much more.
A manager also observes the trends in metrics across all teams in an organization. This not only assures the quality of the code as a whole but also helps them identify teams that may not be working efficiently.
There are several reasons as to why teams underperform. They may not be following the right testing methods, or the initial code quality may not be good enough, that results in an increased number of defects.
In addition, due to insufficient code coverage in automated tests may case regression defects. No matter what the reason, it is the job of a QA manager to identify the issue and ensure teams perform best work practices.
Work on Overall Quality
Typically, development teams develop, test and deliver user stories within their own domains, while it is up to the QA experts to perform cross-functional testing to ensure that everything works well together.
They aim at testing the interactions between different modules in varying environments to ensure that they system works without any integration, performance or security issues.
QA manager plays a pivotal role in ensuring overall system quality.
When they identify problems at the system level, they need to act as a bridge between the developers, QA architects and testers.
As they receive input from all these teams, they are uniquely positioned to look at the overall status of an application and identify bottlenecks to take timely measures.
Striking the Right Balance
A QA manager puts in efforts to balance testing demands on their teams internally. If there is a need for extra test cycles, the development team lead can allocate additional testers from the team.
QA managers may move developers or testers between teams to address the need of the hour for testing.
A QA manager plays an important role in an agile organization, and needs to have a vision and strategy. They should stay ahead of the new changes in the QA domain, evaluate new test management tools and learn new techniques.
A QA manager should also implement QA processes within the team and improve them by defining activities, setting priorities and balancing their resources at a team level. This allows all teams in an organization to work together and consistently product the highest-quality software applications.