A tester’s role in the development of software has always been well established. But their pivotal and much bigger role as team integrators often goes unnoticed. In fact, the tester has to play multiple roles which are much wider than the on-ground testing to ensure that the product meets the satisfaction of clients, and a synergy is maintained within the team on “what client wants”.
The testers are the advocate of the Product Owner, liaison of the development team, and share the vision of the business team whilst understanding the technical hiccups of the development team.
Hence they are the best people to ensure that technology is able to meet the required functionality by addressing issues related to people, processes and tools.
To ensure that the Integrated QA works well, there are 3 essential points where your QA teams need to integrate well.
The 3 important roles played by QA teams
As A Bridge between BAs and Developers
QA team has the unique advantage of being at the cusp of technology and business. Although it is the role of the BAs to translate the business team’s needs to technical specifications for the developer team, the QA team can support them by bridging the communication gap between the BAs and the developers and bringing everyone to a common understanding of the requirement. Eg. When is considered to be done? What is its acceptable way of working and filling any gaps in the user stories which might leave room for misinterpretations technically?
Below are some ways this can be achieved i.e when the QA Team plays an important role in the following:
- Defining the Definition of Done: The Definition of Done (DoD) will include the criteria and conditions that a software feature has to meet so that it is acceptable to the consumer. When the feature reaches that stage of ‘quality’, it would mean that it can be released without further development or testing. QA testers understand the DoD from the BA, help developers to understand and assess it as feature details, and finally ensure during testing that the DoD is satisfactorily met.
- Setting the Acceptance Criteria: Setting Acceptance criteria would mean setting the lowest level of functional as well as non-functional requirements. They are the unique conditions that the software product must meet for each user story. They are the definition of acceptable feature behaviour from the business, customer or user perspective. QA Testers have an understanding of this perspective and while testing the product they ensure that the acceptance criteria are met.
- Determine the Definition of Ready: As QA Testers have an understanding of business needs better than the developers, they are in a position to determine if the product is complete and ready for testing. As the bridge between the BA and the developers, even before the testing is started, they ensure that the functionalities required are met. Only when they feel that the product is done and ready for testing is it when they start their testing process.
Guard Quality: Play End User’s Representatives
The most overlooked features of the software product may actually be the defining factor of user experience!
QA Tester plays the role of the representative of the end user and understands what is important for the customer and thus avoids the above from happening. Users do not care about how many rounds of testing have been run on the software product, they only care about the product experience they get. Few things the QA testers do to ensure alignment with end customers include –
- Understanding real-time scenarios that customer is likely to face to comprehend the user behaviour and implementing testing as per that.
- Adopt the perspective of the end user to understand what can lead to their satisfaction by attempting to explore situations where users are prone to face errors. This will help in effective error identification.
- Walk in the shoes of the customer to come across the real “environments” of the end user under which the application might be used and test the software product accordingly.
SME on the Product & its Functionality
Great QA Testers evolve into being the one-stop shop for every functional knowledge about the product:
- How the product works,
- Each business rule and the probable impact of making any change to it,
- Each repeated issue and its history.
- Which build caused chaos after release and why vs which had the highest quality index?
The key difference between a good tester and a great tester is “ownership”. And hence, the tester who owns the quality of the product tends to dig deep and attain extensive knowledge about the product and its lifecycle. This gives them the unique role of being an Advisor to the Product Owner/ Manager or the knowledge SME whenever needed.
Now let’s look at some best Ways a tester can ensure that they are able to integrate this well:
- Have Consistent Communication with all stakeholders to ensure that all the teams have a clear idea of the expectations and the business expectations are correctly and completely translated into technical requirements. Gap Analysis, Static Testing and establishing RTMs are some great tools to do this.
- Ensure that the BA/ Product Owner, the testers and the developers are aligned with the priorities at all times. This can be established by regular discussions on bottlenecks and status. The teams can also meet periodically for further planning, clarification and discussion of stories to help the m be on track.
- Knowledge exchange between the teams is also vital between teams. There are several ways of doing this such as project artefacts, periodic sessions and more.
The need of the hour is Integrated QA. Successful integration can only happen if the QA testers play the 3 crucial roles that they are supposed to play in this integration and perform their best in their role to create a high-quality product that will match the requirement of the customer, leading to satisfaction.