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How can enterprise QA leaders project manage the entire lifecycle of testing?
Posted On: September 6, 2022
11 Min Read
These are the points we will discuss in detail in this article:
- How to come up with a central strategy
- Necessary Soft skills
- How to integrate people with different technical backgrounds into this culture
- Metrics to keep an eye on
Before I answer this question, I feel the need to guide you on this topic in more detail. We all know that QA leaders are responsible for one testing project at a time and lead one QA team, while QA managers traditionally manage the complete QA process in an enterprise.
Allow me to show you why it is important that QA leaders acquire knowledge of project management, and then be able to manage the entire lifecycle of testing.
First, let me explain what project management is and what the lifecycle of testing is.
1. Project management process in a couple of short steps
– Concept, definition, and planning
To start any project, including a QA project, first, you will need to make a draft of the project itself. Make a short, one-page list of the project’s key points.
Then set a project definition (do your best to answer these questions Who, What, Where, When, and How). With those answers, write a project description on how you will achieve project goals and the purpose of this project.
After the project is approved next step in project management is project planning.
When managing the project manager needs to plan every detail, from the start of the project to the project finish. Every detail and every project step must include resources needed, cost estimations, duration of every project step, and successful leaders must predict possible problems in project implementation.
The Key feature of project management is project implementation. The first step in successful project implementation is a team meeting, where the manager will explain the details of every step of project implementation. In this meeting, listen to questions of your team members and then solve issues from the project plan that aren’t clear to team members.
– Monitoring and controlling
Managers must monitor project progress, make sure every step of the planned project is finished, and control the quality of tasks done during this project.
– Closing and evaluating
Once the project is completed, it is time for the manager to close this project. The first step in project closing is project evaluation. Evaluate the project with your team in a joint meeting, and consider this a first evaluation. If everything is in order and you are satisfied with the project, write a final project evaluation and close the project.
2. Software testing life cycle (STLC)
– Requirement analysis
In this first stage, the QA leader will need to evaluate requirements for this specific testing project and define requirements they can test. Those requirements can be features of the software (functional features) or reliability, speed, and availability (non-functional features).
– Test planning
Test planning is an important part of the QA lifecycle. With the right plan, STLC will be successful. Here QA leaders will prepare the budget for the testing project and estimate the efforts needed to complete this project. In this stage, it is necessary to include types of software testing and optimal testing tools; and assign roles and responsibilities to the test team.
– Test Case Development
In this STLC part, test team with the QA leader will prepare test cases (test scripts if automation) and test data. After test cases are written, the QA leader will review them and create a requirement traceable matrix (RTM). RTM is a document that maps and traces any user requirement using given test cases.
– Environment Setup
The environment setup includes all software, hardware, and network configuration that the test team will need to execute prepared test cases.
– Test Execution
With test plans and using test cases, testers proceed with testing. Bug reports are made for the development team to act upon them.
– Test Closure
During the test closure phase, testers will analyze and discuss the current test cycle. Then they will identify new strategies for future STLC that will remove obstacles in the test cycle, so the best practice will be shared and included in future projects.
Now, you can see that stages of project management and the Test Life Cycle have a lot in common. First, you need to have a plan, implement (develop) that plan, monitor the process, and in the end, close and evaluate the project or test.
After this introduction, we can continue our journey:
How to come up with the central strategy
QA managers define goals, but objectives (detailed goals) are something that QA leaders need to pay attention to when creating the central strategy for STLC. This is how they can use the SMART technique to achieve it.
1. Define Quality Objectives using SMART
To define quality objectives these objectives need to be measurable. To write measurable objectives, the easiest way is to use a technique known as SMART. This is how this technique works:
S/ Specific (objective draft needs to be written clearly and with all specifics explained)
M/ Measurable (set metrics for measuring all quality objectives achievement)
A/ Attainable (Quality objective needs to be achievable, but they have to be interesting and challenging for your testing team too)
R/ Relevant (your set objective must be of value to the QA team working on it as well as for the tested software and development team)
T/ Time-bound (needs to have a set deadline)
The next steps for creating a successful central strategy are:
2. Roles and Responsibilities
Now, a QA leader needs to define roles and responsibilities for each testing team member. Keep in mind that every tester must have a part in a testing cycle that will meet their skill set. Also, staff training is an important part of the central strategy.
Developing new skills or learning to use new tools in the testing project will ensure an up-to-date test team. Testers who work on their knowledge will be able to detect bugs in the early part of product development. And early stage efficient testing is something that QA is moving to now.
Other steps the QA leader must finish to have a central strategy are the implementation of a QA plan, examination of results, making necessary adjustments, and keeping the team in the loop.
You can see that the QA leader’s role is not only in preparing the test cases, picking the right tools, etc. If you ask “why not?” only one answer comes as the right one: the QA leader needs to manage the team. To successfully manage the team, QA leaders must have Soft skills. After explaining “what are Soft management skills”, we will explain how to implement this whole process with a team of people with different technical backgrounds.
Necessary Soft skills
To be a QA leader, one needs to have the required soft skills. If you can’t effectively communicate with your testing team, you may put the project at risk. Without problem-solving skills, the testing project timeline may be impacted negatively. In short, without soft skills, your project can fail.
Don’t confuse leadership with management. Leadership is when you can inspire your team members. These team members will trust your guidance and your project ideas. If you as a QA leader have the right leadership skills, it will empower other members of your team, they will see you as a source of authority and knowledge, somebody who can guide them and teach them at the same time.
Having strong communication skills, verbal or written, is something a QA leader must possess to manage projects from start to finish (entire lifecycle of testing). Communications skills will help your testing team understand all requirements of testing projects. Keep all communication channels open using email, test documentation, and test cases. They need to be up to date and available to your team all the time.
Even if you prepare the perfect plan, you can’t eliminate all risks during test execution. And this is why having problem-solving skills is necessary. As a QA leader, you must act quickly and reasonably without panic. Every project life cycle has challenges, and with strong problem-solving skills, you will be able to address and solve unexpected issues and help your team to move things up.
The success of any project is in teamwork. By recognizing the importance of teamwork and acting accordingly, test projects will be finished on time, every team member will feel appreciated, and the complete team will have high morale. So maintain a positive teamwork environment.
5. Conflict resolution
Every QA leader must know how to address and handle conflict among team members, other people in the organization, or external sources. Even if there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” conflict resolution strategy, there are a huge number of resolution strategies that exist. You will need to know how to apply them in your specific conflict case, and that’s an important skill.
How to integrate people with different technical backgrounds into this culture
1. Opportunities for creativity and problem solving
When you work in a team with people from different technical backgrounds, use that as an enormous advantage. Integrating people with different experiences, skills, and insights into your working culture will help your team to see problems and opportunities from different angles. Diversity increases innovation, creativity, and strategic thinking because teams with people from different backgrounds can draw upon their unique experiences and a wide range of knowledge to spark some new, innovative ideas. So when you integrate people into one team use all the soft skills we pointed out previously, and explain to those people all mentioned advantages that working in a diverse team will have to their successful work.
2. Decision-making is smarter
Teams of employees from different technical backgrounds and cultures come with a wider range of knowledge sources and experiences. This diversity can help them make more educated decisions, leading to better work results for the complete team.
Those teams work smarter together, are more innovative, and are more socially aware. The team where you integrate diversity is known to process facts more carefully, which is a significant factor in making smarter, data-driven decisions. So point this out to all team members also, and they will embrace diversity.
In my opinion, these are two enormously unique and positive outcomes for QA leaders when they work with a team of people with different technical backgrounds.
A couple more tips you need to use as a QA leader so the process of integration will be more successful:
– Be fair and identify potential bias
– Value all of your team members equally
– Promote opportunities for career advancement
– Educate your team members on diversity and enforce respect
– Support workplace collaboration
– Offer flexibility, and respect all beliefs equally
Metrics to keep an eye on and use as the advantage
As testers or QA leaders, you are familiar with QA metrics and their role in the test cycle (tracking the status of testing activities, measuring product quality, team efficiency, and their role when determining how to optimize the testing process).
But please be aware as QA leaders that two projects can have identical metrics but completely different meanings for those projects. Don’t use only metrics numbers to evaluate your testing team.
QA leaders can use metrics to complete the testing lifecycle successfully and improve the testing team’s performance.
Use Base metrics and Calculated metrics to achieve the following:
- Use QA metrics that you, as a QA Leader, easily estimate the effectiveness of testing methods used. This will help your team successfully carry out every new release cycle.
- QA metrics will give you examples of typical software behavior, and your team can learn which patterns and bugs are repeating in similar products.
- Use QA metrics to understand how your team works during test execution and to what extent they are successful with completing the project.
I hope I explained well how a QA leader can manage the complete lifecycle of the testing project in an enterprise. We can conclude that to do it successfully, the QA leader must learn and apply new knowledge. Understand similarities in project management and STLC, learn soft skills, and recognize all advantages of working with a team of testers from different technical and cultural backgrounds. In the end, I explained that QA metrics, even only represented as numbers, can show a lot more about managing a team and completing the testing lifecycle to the QA leader.
I hope you enjoyed this learning journey with me and that we will soon continue exploring other topics related to testing and QA.
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