Create Constant Growth for QA Professionals (or Perish)

Tim Harrison, Principal & Chief Knowledge Officer, SQAsquared
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Tim Harrison, Principal & Chief Knowledge Officer, SQAsquared

QA directly impacts the bottom line. QA’s value comes from ensuring that high quality code goes into production in a timely manner. Organizations struggle to see a Return on Investment (ROI) from QA, because QA does not directly impact the bottom line. The major reason why organizations do not invest in their QA professionals is because they are overhead. In most cases, QA professionals do not exercise a voice amongst management to combat that idea.

The value of developing QA professionals is often further eroded by that one unfortunate experience with a bad tester. A single bad QA Tester can set up a stigma for the whole group of QA Testers. Historically, QA Testers have been known as less technical or knowledgeable in industry leading technologies and tools. QA Testers represent the majority of QA professionals and their performance affects an organizations opinion of the QA Analysts, Engineers, and Architects.

An effective QA team should be improving process, eliminating defects and reducing time-to-market. QA teams prevent losses by mitigating risks and calling out problems in the process or the application early and often. The financial value is the potential cost and time of development if the issues are not resolved, and the measure of the savings when getting the product into the market sooner. A good QA program ensures the organization begins earning revenue sooner and has a faster moving software development effort.

Valuing QA Professionals as Individual Assets

How can organizations get value out of QA? The struggle for the modern QA professional is the lack of time available and a lack of investment in professional growth from their organization.

Without investment in professional development, bad testers continue minimal manual testing and fail to understand the intimate details of an application. They are not capable of diving deep and finding the hard-to-reach issues. Bad testers neglect the important parts of Software Quality Assurance such as process driven continuous improvement, defect reduction, risk mitigation, cost reduction, and reducing time-to-market.

Even the good testers are subject to the compound effects of an inability to keep up with industry trends and advancing technologies. The success of the organization is dependent on the constant growth of the QA professionals as individuals.

  ‚ÄčThe value of investing in the individual QA professionals can be measured in the reduced time to market, reduced support costs, and gains in the market place  

Preparing QA Professionals for the Shift

Continuous learning and growth is vitally important for the success of all QA professionals and organizations alike. Organizations need to ensure the learning to matches the changes in the technologies and shifts in the market. A technically proficient QA professional is one that is ready to efficiently test and improve an application in development. Well trained individuals can adjust to shifts when a shift occurs. Training should keep pace with the drivers, requiring organizations to adjust their enterprise tools and software.

Personal Career Development

QA professionals are responsible for part of their personal and professional growth. Most QA staff struggle to keep up with the daily work load leaving that person with little time to grow their own technical skills. QA professionals can gain new opportunities within their organizations, such as:

• Taking on tough challenges and projects in their daily work
• Online eLearning sites for programming, testing and the topics in between
• Meet-ups and organizations for QA professionals

Learning Management Systems

A Learning Management Systems (LMS) is one of the best solutions for topics ranging from internal domain knowledge to industry knowledge to the latest technologies. Additionally, third party eLearning providers can supply training on a wide variety of emerging topics. Look for LMS and third party providers that use an enterprise-standard approach to the topics.

Scheduled Training

Organizations can take the QA training a step further by providing regularly scheduled training sessions. Look for programs that give hands on experience with technology that your QA professionals are not exposed to. The hands on work contributes to a better software development life cycle and reduces employee attrition rates.

QA Growth for the Organization

A frequently trained QA professional is in a position to support an efficient and effective QA process— and the testing effort for evolving software development projects. Rigorous testing is only achievable if there is a technically strong team of QA professionals leading the testing effort. Constant growth and learning ensures the QA team is always ready. The value of investing in the individual QA professionals can be measured in the reduced time to market, reduced support costs, and gains in the market place.

Organizations that recognize the benefits of developing the individual skills of their QA professionals gain the value of improved speed to market, reduced risks, lower support costs, and a more competitive product in the market. The organization will incur additional savings through reducing employee turnover (lower recruitment and on-boarding costs) and improvements in employee productivity (more complete testing and less time wasted).

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