Managing Director at a1qaa company that specializes in software testing and quality assurance.
Successful managers gently guide their teams to follow best practices, continually invest in talent to help them grow and professionally mediate disputes to find common ground and maintain a healthy workplace. Due to the positive impact of good management on business, the global demand for Project Managers (PMs) will only be Strengthen Over the next five years, along with Project management software market size.
However, managing a Quality Assurance (QA) project is challenging, especially when a large team is working from different locations and time zones. In this article, I will focus on the most common process challenges and provide techniques to mitigate them.
Challenge 1: There is a lack of communication in the distributed QA team.
Good managers contribute to ensuring effective collaboration within the QA teams as well as the project teams. They also help settle issues that arise with developers and negotiate with stakeholders about scope, deadlines, priorities, and costs.
With a distributed testing team, it is difficult to manage collaboration and ensure effective communication between QA teams and project teams. Quality Assurance engineers also find it difficult to stay on the same page and may have vague ideas about the current agenda and responsibilities across the team.
Here’s how to solve this: Managers should plan for stand-alone meetings with time zones in mind and rely on project collaboration tools to visualize milestones and enhance transparency. Another effective practice is to supplement synchronous communication (for now) with asynchronous communication (which does not happen in real time, such as via Slack, Microsoft Teams, Loom, or Asana). The latter helps team members receive messages, and takes time to think about and respond to best approaches to problems, which increases productivity. Organizing informal team buildings is another practice of keeping in touch with colleagues, promoting their participation, and creating trusting relationships.
Challenge 2: Team members do not have the right experience.
Even with tweaking the project workflow to perfection, a lack of required skills within the QA team can prevent you from reaching set goals.
Here’s how to solve this: If you are already in the project planning stage, the manager can design a skills matrix (or competency) to identify the technical and soft skills of the QA team members. It is also worth compiling project initiation and planning documents that contain the definition of roles and responsibilities of the relevant team members to assign specialists with the appropriate skills from the beginning. Continuous training of your QA team is also of paramount importance, as the continuous accumulation of experience and knowledge transfer throughout the project allows for rapid onboarding of new team members and smooth problem solving.
Challenge 3: Your deadlines are unrealistic.
This is one of the biggest problems when managing Agile-based QA projects, where sprints are usually short and requirements may still change. Last minute testing can lead to additional risks of production issues and unsatisfied customers. The QA team should always have enough time to perform regression testing and confirm proper performance of the improvements provided and the areas affected.
Here’s how to solve this: Quick release planning helps here. Whether you’re rolling out the functionality at each sprint or collecting and editing the features afterward, while planning, you should always time your downhill test. Test automation speeds up QA and detects errors of varying severity levels.
Challenge 4: There are vague or changing requirements.
If requirements are confusing or changing in the middle of a sprint, the stress level of the QA team increases, as they must ensure that even the slightest changes to the code have not affected the correct performance of the program. And they have to do it quickly to meet established deadlines.
Here’s how to solve this: First, it is important to perform an impact analysis. By working closely with the development team, QA engineers can more accurately understand which parts of the software may be affected by changes and perform regression testing. Second, quality assurance managers, along with business analysts and stakeholders, can prioritize requirements to determine which ones fit the current race with minimal risk to quality when software is released. Also, educate your stakeholders so you can avoid changing requirements in the middle of a sprint and conduct grooming sessions to ensure that your backlog contains only relevant and priority features.
Challenge 5. There is a lack of transparency regarding project progress.
Ensuring alignment between multiple teams and stakeholders and keeping everyone on track is impossible due to a poor workplace or project vision.
Here’s how to solve this: To make your team members aware of even the slightest changes in software requirements and project milestones, quality assurance managers can enhance interaction between stakeholders, business analysts, developers, quality assurance engineers and key users. Also, managers can rely on absolute and derived metrics (for example, test effectiveness) to gain an overall view of operations and identify current bottlenecks.
Challenge Six: You’re dealing with Friday’s releases (“Oh, no!”).
When new functionality is released, it is essential that the improvements and updates provided to the software do not affect the proper functioning of other features. A Friday afternoon release is never a good idea if you want to ensure a healthy work-life balance for developers and QA engineers who have to support release quality and fix specific issues quickly.
Here’s how to solve this: Build your release schedule so that you can roll out new features at the start of the week and give your team enough time to deal with any issues that may arise or fall back, instantly reducing the negative impact on your customers.
Every day, QA managers may face challenges such as a lack of communication, lack of team experience, unrealistic deadlines, vague requirements, limited project visibility, and hasty Friday releases. To address these obstacles, quality assurance managers should consider hosting stand-up meetings, adding asynchronous communication, defining team skill sets in advance and providing continuous learning. They will also want to consider creating release planning, performing impact analyzes and prioritizing requirements, enhancing communication, implementing metrics, and reorganizing release schedules. Finally, they’ll want to strive to become the best manager possible!