No matter what project you are running, it is essential to ensure your quality assurance (QA) specialists are the perfect fit. Popular apps like NerdWallet, MyFitnessPal, and Under Armour rely on QA experts to build and test applications that meet user needs. However, when it comes to Agile projects using Scrum, there is a need to recruit top-level QA engineers with the right skills to engage effectively during a sprint before anything has been built. It is essential to focus on the must-have soft skills for quality assurance specialists that can help them perform agile testing. This article will provide valuable insights to make the hiring process easier and more cost-effective.
Author: Dzmitry Seachouk, Lead of manual QA at Solvd, Inc.
1. Systematic Thinking
As the team works through the testing and stabilization activities, Quality Assurance (QA) personnel should take the lead in planning, organizing, and involving the whole team in the testing work. This is similar to the role of the Scrum Master (SM) in keeping people motivated. Since many software developers don’t enjoy the testing work, it is the responsibility of the QAs and the SM to make the testing vision and goals visible to the team and to help to maintain a high level of motivation. By doing so, the team will be better equipped to perform their tasks and reach their goals.
That’s why systematic thinking is essential for QA Engineers in Scrum teams. A particular skill set defines systematic thinkers in the quality assurance area and makes them capable of the following:
- View a product as a system from different angles
- Plan tasks
- Decompose tasks
- Arrive at conclusions and align personal behavior
- Be flexible in resolving issues
And above all, a systematic thinker takes a complex approach to QA processes, which is the secret ingredient in the recipe for project success.
What are the mistakes lower-qualified QA engineers might make?
Each business has its specific context, and each client’s project is unique. A tester must learn and practice much to become a pro in a chosen niche.
QA engineers may go wrong if trying to resolve different project issues using one-size-fits-all testing methods.
Say, an experienced specialist has years of game testing experience under the belt. But he or she with little to no specific skills is likely to get confused while testing CRM systems.
Or imaging QA specialists who test fitness devices and weight loss apps not using slimming recommendations or doing any physical activity themselves – that is ridiculous!
Unlike systematic thinkers, other QA engineers may suffer psychological difficulties at work. That could slow down the entire team and result in financial losses for a client.
2. Strong Attention to Detail
Before getting down to work, a QA specialist should double-check these two points:
- if testing goals and expected results are clear
- if there are any occasional contradictions in a task text
A QA professional may come up with unexpected interpretations that help choose a more appropriate testing conditions different from those described in requirements, detect edge cases, or unearth inconsistencies.
Having strong attention to detail, expert engineers may kill two birds with one stone: save themselves and their colleagues a great deal of time and improve personal analytical skills.
3. Providing Fast Feedback
The traditional Waterfall approach of build-test-fix cycles can be time-consuming and inefficient for teams. This cycle of endless testing and fixing can be avoided with the Scrum methodology, which encourages collaboration between developers and QAs. Developers can consult with QAs about acceptance criteria and user behavior while working on a feature, eliminating the need for multiple testing and bug-fixing cycles. This saves time and effort for the team, resulting in a more efficient process.
4. Critical Thinking
A QA specialist should be curious and question task requirements and logical contradictions.
Inconsistencies may occur in application logic, project requirements, assignments, or third-party documentation. And critical thinkers would try to detect contradictions when a work is in its early stages. That would facilitate QA processes for an entire team.
A high-quality specialist would focus on system specifics rather than on gut feeling. Besides, he or she is highly likely to have an insider’s look at a system and suggest options for improving current functionality.
On receiving a new task, a QA expert will try to figure out what is expected to be done on his or her own. The easiest way is to ask colleagues to clarify complicated parts. But by resolving difficulties themselves, engineers learn better and gain experience for the future.
Under Agile management, people are encouraged to share their ideas and collaborate with one another more than ever before. That’s why a professional would even go further and systematize new experiences to make it easy for teammates to learn from them. He or she may draw up instructions on resolving issues or create a guide for team members on setting up a testing environment. And they may use guides or notes made to refresh their knowledge quickly. So, they prove leadership competencies, care for the entire team, and benefit themselves.
6. A Broad Range of Expertise
Watch out: if not handled properly, the number of harmful defects and bugs would proliferate.
What does a QA do and what skills are needed to detect issues on time and fix them as soon as possible?
To fit in perfectly with any professional team, a QA engineer should keep up with the changing technology landscape and understand some key areas:
- The architecture of modern applications
- Platform guidelines
- Basic principles of object-oriented programming (OOP)
- General business principles
- Product lifecycle
- Popular testing methodologies
- Software development lifecycle (SDLC)
- Ways to apply different development tools
- Specifics of using server environment
For example, a QA professional familiar with App Store requirements may detect inconsistency with the store requirements at the earliest stage of testing and notify the team on time. That could save a code from regression bugs a tester might miss while fixing an app.
Being open-minded allows QA engineers to master new skills faster while sticking to the principle of lifelong learning.
Quality assurance engineers are at the forefront of detecting application issues and providing solutions in Scrum teams. They make sustainable project delivery possible while maintaining high quality and safety. And it is your QA team who ensures customers are happy with the product or service at the end of the day. That’s why when hiring for a QA position, it is important to evaluate the soft skills of the candidate, as these are essential for success in the role.
Dzmitry Seachouk is a lead of manual QA at Solvd, Inc. and blogger. He likes solving software testing challenges and helping people discover their hidden talents. He authors the newsletter Inside the Tester’s Mind, where he reviews books, shares thoughts on testing and IT issues, publishes interviews with professionals in the industry and provides solutions to QA and testing challenges.
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