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How to become a QA lead? Answers from the Q&A session – Tech Talks #7

March 28, 2022
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In February, we hosted Tech Talks session with experts from Sarna Technologies & VirtusLab. The session was devoted to sharing best practices in terms of Quality Assurance & testing and the presented topics were as follows:

Assuring quality as a Test Lead in an Agile team – Bartosz Siwiński • Data Engineer at VirtusLab

Software Quality is Not Only About Code and Tests – Aleksandra Kunysz • Software Development Engineer at Sarna Technologies

After the presentations, we hosted a Q&A. Here are some of the questions that were asked by attendees during the session: 

 1. What would be a better end of the sprint about not done task due to a dependency that doesn’t allow us to close it: split that task and create another for the pending part or move the whole task to the next sprint (I think this might affect metrics)?

I will start with answering the question that wasn’t asked. What are the metrics? They’re the tool that is supposed to help us find patterns and conclude on data. It’s up to the management of the company to cultivate such an environment that you will be doing your best and management based on statistics will be advising what we can do better as an organization. Using metrics as a ‘stick’ instead of a ‘carrot’ leads to cheating metrics.

Assuming our management team is using metrics to support teams I would say: let the task roll into the next sprint if it can fit into it. If what is left of the task is too big to be finished in the next sprint, split it into pieces that can fit into one sprint each. This way your plan reflects what you do, but you’re not trying to make the metrics green.

~ Bartosz

If anything can be closed as a separate feature, then I would split the task and move the rest to the next sprint. If the done part has no real value, then I wouldn’t split it just because of the metrics. Sprints are just a tool. Tools should help us deliver better software faster. If we start to pay more attention to methodology details rather than the final product, we forget about the real goal.

~ Aleksandra

2. I’m at the beginning of my journey as a software tester, but I see myself as a QA Lead in a few years. My question is – what is the most challenging in this role – managing the project itself, the team, or clients? 

It will differ from person to person. Some people are more comfortable with people management and some feel great in a business environment. In my opinion, the client will usually be the most difficult part, because of an initial illusion that client and project engineers have different goals. Cooperation with a client tends to be shorter than cooperation with your project management staff or engineering team, so it gives you less time to tune the relationship.

~ Bartosz

3. Thanks so much for bringing up the ego problem. I’ve noticed that already a few years ago in the teams I was working. Do you know how to show it to the team so that they can be aware of it?

The problem with ego is that everyone needs to see it on their own. But I encourage you to be an advocate and show the problems with possible solutions during retrospective f.e. If we say “you did it all wrong”, there will be no change because no one is open to listening after such a sentence. We need to talk more about the behavior than people, how this influenced the team, and what can be done better next time. Some people are really blinded by their ego, but most of us do things wrong just because we don’t know how to do them right. 

~ Aleksandra

4. How to become a QA lead? Are there any interesting courses which let us get enough knowledge to get this job? 

 There are two main types of responsibilities of a test lead: technical ones and leadership ones. For the technical side, the choice of courses depends on your project’s stack. There are a few great platforms where you can find such courses as Coursera, Udemy, or Pluralsight. Soft skills are harder to get and they usually require more time and practice. Training centers often have something in their offer related to communication or project management, so you can give that a try.

Apart from that, I would recommend company internal workshops that will let you exercise giving feedback and mentoring focused on a particular skill to grow, for example, the ability to present clearly technical topics. If you prefer to learn on your own I would suggest reading the book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie and some books about Agile. These books will give you some perspective on how to interact with people and present yourself and how to manage the project.

~ Bartosz

5. Do you know some ideas on how to encourage testers to expand their knowledge? (Once I made a challenge to share one article about testing every day for a coffee break – only one out of four QAs read it.)

One article a day is a lot 🙂 Some people love reading about new things, but some need to digest them for a little longer. I would start with something once a week, with something small that everyone is at least a little familiar with. Discuss it and take the next topics from this discussion. People are more eager to dig deeper into a topic if it comes from their interest, not some external source. We cannot “force” anyone to learn, learning is by definition something we do on our own and we need to want it. In order to succeed, You can show a good example, share your knowledge or encourage people, but it’s their call to take action.

~ Aleksandra

6. How to encourage testers from the team to share knowledge?

To encourage the team to share the knowledge you should create an atmosphere where their effort is rewarded. If someone helps you out in a task thank them in person and mention it on the team forum, so they feel appreciated. Consider also once in a while giving feedback to their manager, because this way you will contribute to them getting a pay rise or promotion, which is a great encouragement to share your knowledge.

~ Bartosz

Stay tuned for another Tech Talks event!