Demand for Quality Assurance jobs is rising because people are getting a better understanding of their importance and impact. However, there still seems to be this stigma that QA is not necessary and it’s a waste of money. Even though the IT industry has generally been in the uprise in the past decade or so, statistics show that more than half of software projects fail. There are many reasons for these indicators such as code review pitfalls, lack of predictability management, strategic planning, quality management and early bug detection.
But one of the main reasons many projects fail or turn out differently than initially planned is misdirected focus in the project development phase in which the primal goal in general is to deliver a solution. The truth is that often, development goals are short termed, in a sense that they focus on delivering correctly and on time while the question of how and will the solution be useful is, more often than not, not being considered.
Quality Assurance department is precisely the one that thinks one step ahead and makes sure the implementation of the solution goes in the long term, quality and sustainable direction.
So why does it still seem that having a QA department is more of a rare occurrence? There is sort of a tabu opinion that you don’t need to invest time and money into QA departments and experts because the team that’s already on the project can do it is, unfortunately, very common.
It should not be and we’re here to tell you why.
Quality Assurance as the cure for all software development diseases
As our Head of Development Vilim says: QA and software testing immensely impact project success. Among the numerous things QA contributes with, the key thing is that they have the time and resources to focus on analysing feature needs and to determine if something makes sense, who can use it and can it generally work because too often development focuses more on just in-time implementation.
The title itself implies that QA takes care of anything that might affect the quality of the solution being developed which in IT, among others, implies detecting bugs and thoroughly analysing functionalities.
But quality in general has always been a key ingredient of a successful business formula, no matter the industry. Even though, while focusing on many other factors that contribute to business success, many companies often neglect and don’t put it as a top priority factor.
Failed strategies for Quality Assurance jobs
In IT this is very common at the beginning phase of business, especially with start ups. Budget is limited, risks are high and time is of the essence which doesn’t mean quality is an overlooked factor in this stage. The problem is that the starter business strategy, which is primarily focused on delivering on time and for the short term goal, often remains when the company reaches a more secure phase.
If you continue to do projects that don’t have a long term perspective and are results of simply indulging clients any desires other than creating something useful for the end user, overtime the biggest issue becomes unsustainability.
This reflects not only the success rate of the projects but also client and customer satisfaction, employee motivation and in the end, company reputation.
A lesson learned
When Async Labs was born in 2016 we also started as a startup. With many strategic business goals and a three month financial plan, both time and budget were pressing us. Quality and sustainability were key factors nourished from the start but there was simply no room for investment in Quality Assurance in those beginning stages of business. Or at least we thought so.
We did as many other IT companies do. The team that directly worked on the projects did the testing of them as well. Quality of those projects and products did not suffer then because it was on the top of our list of priorities, however, a lot of time and resources were invested in the testing process which could have been directed elsewhere if we had a QA department from the beginning.
History has shown that not having an individual team of testers is rarely a good idea and can lead to project failure and increasing costs for numerous reasons:
- Lack of objectivity
- Lack of time and focus for testing
- Functionality over quality
- Difficulty to put one self in the shoes of an end user
Thankfully, we realised this pretty early on, and opening a QA department was precisely one of the main reasons that enabled us to fully focus on delivering solutions of the highest quality which ultimately led to significant growth and success from the early stages of business.
Our logic was pretty simple; as an IT agency, our main selling points are quality and processes and they are the reason clients choose and come back to our services. Quality Assurance is a big part of that and having a QA team enables other departments to focus more and assures overall better quality of work. For example, after introducing QA, our project managers had much more time to focus on deploying our software development processes and enhancing our project strategies.Alen Huskanović , CEO
Quality and broader context
There are many things that make Quality Assurance jobs special, but one stands out quite significantly. Quality assurance engineers need to think not only about the client’s wishes and their company’s business strategies but also about the end user, their needs and habits based on specific domain, social and demographic factors. This implies that besides technological background, a QA engineer needs to have certain social skills and understanding while also being both analytical and creative at the same time while figuring out solutions which will benefit different parties.
This is what makes QA unique and essential and why IT agencies must invest in QA experts other than just transfer the kind of testing work to project team members who simply don’t have the time and the resources to have the point of view a QA expert can and must have.
Objectivity and interdisciplinarity
Our lead QA engineer Vanja emphasises that one of the biggest values of Quality Assurance jobs is objectivity.
Project implementation in tech companies implies that the main focus is on the development process and it is only natural that a sort of an “embedded third party”, the one that floats around development and understands the process, can have objective view and assure quality in accordance with users’ and therefor clients’ needs.Vanja Žunić, Lead QA Engineer
The main perspective of work, as Vanja says, is cooperation between all teams within the Development department and the rest. That is why it is essential not to isolate QA, which many fail to do, but to have them on board from project scratch. Nature of Quality Assurance job is working with all and in between all departments which enables them to propose procedures, contribute to continuous optimisation of development infrastructure and improve the quality of both work and wellbeing of those involved in the development process.
My affinity with QA rose from interdisciplinary of the profession that even more contributes to the fun of it.Vanja Žunić, Lead QA Engineer
Challenges of Quality Assurance jobs
Based on the spectre of day to day, interdisciplinary work obligations and the industry itself, it is easy to assume that QA position brings many challenges to the table. Challenges which can truly help you learn and grow and here is how:
Detecting issues on time
Detecting bugs on time is an essential part of any QA process and prevents triggering other problems and it is possible only with a good process strategy and pre-developed testing infrastructure.
Approach it while it’s not too wrapped up to be caught. The sooner you start, it’s easier to spot, understand, mitigate and learn from a potential issue.Vanja Žunić, Lead QA Engineer
Flexibility and applicability
Testing environment implies various testing approaches with the goal to validate the resilience and applicability of the solution to the group and the domain for which it is intended. QA and project priorities in general immensely depend on the industry and the people the product is being made for. This strongly determines which things are a priority for testing and which are not. For example, for our client Revuto, a financial technology company, the main priority was security. Even though there were many different factors we had to consider at the same time, the general mindset was directed towards security.
We tend to put ourselves in different mindsets, trying to think alike our audience personas, as much as users that may not have such good intentions towards, for example, security of our product.Vanja Žunić, Lead QA Engineer
Accessibility testing is a unique branch of Quality Assurance which focuses on ensuring that all project features that are available to an average user should be available to a person with any kind of disability as well. This version of tech inclusivity might seem implied, but statistics show that only a small percentage of IT projects are made accessible to everyone.
The challenge here is evident – how to explain, in the early stages of project development, that this is something that should be done because it will have a long term positive impact?
Lead tech companies are in awe by every player in a tech game, and to become like them – is the end goal of it all. If we can not get motivated to invest time in accessibility by our own experiences in the world and by situations of the ones surrounding us – maybe tech leads can be our inspiration to do so.Vanja Žunić, Lead QA Engineer
You CAN sit with us
The main lesson we learned from early on is that Quality Assurance needs to be included in the entire process of project development. This approach is familiar as Shift left testing and implies that, alongside our PMs, designers and account managers, QA engineers are involved in the project from the very beginning stages of grooming and planning.
In Async Labs, QA is basically on alert before the project gets into the development stage. This is crucial for the proper implementation and the final outcome and enables QA to promptly contribute to all stages, from brainstorming to production.
Even though at first it may seem as Quality Assurance jobs are simply about testing and detecting bugs on time, as we explained earlier, there is so much more to this role in an IT agency. There are a lot of areas one can specialise in within the QA role and numerous opportunities for learning and growth. At Async Labs we try hard to make sure people have opportunities to follow their interests and try different things, other than just being dedicated to one and the same job or position.
As the lead QA engineer at Async Labs I have a responsibility as a mentor as well. Our team is growing and my teammates enjoy exploring different fields of this type of work and it is a delight to guide them through that process, support them in this journey and to teach, as much as learn from and with them.Vanja Žunić, Lead QA Engineer
Is quality your top priority as well? Get in touch with our team of experts and we’ll make sure the solution for your specific needs is of the highest standard.