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Five clever ideas to elevate your testing team to the next level

Prashant Hegde

Prashant Hegde specializes in building high-performing teams. He is an accomplished writer and an international speaker.

Published on

February 23, 2022
Five clever ideas to elevate your testing team to the next level

Building effective teams is a necessity for every testing leader today. Successful leaders have one thing in common - their vision, the ability to see the big picture and visualize success in the long term. At some point, all testing leaders ask themselves, “How do I take my testing team to the next level?”

  • Are you a QA leader striving to make an impact in your organization?
  • Does your testing team have everything needed to succeed, but something keeps them back from reaching their full potential?

You have come to the right place. This article discusses ideas that will help you to maximize your team’s engagement and productivity. Here are five clever ways to take your testing team to a whole new level.

1. Break free from traditional testing responsibilities and self-imposed boundaries

Testers have a lot more to offer than just testing.  However, tester’s often limit themself only to traditional testing responsibilities like testing functionality, finding bugs, or automating tests. These self-imposed boundaries severely limit their potential.  Testers need to break these boundaries and start owing responsibilities that add more value to the organization.  

Below are a few ideas:

Enhance the UX of your application

Help your organization to create a world-class product that users love.

  • Involve in design discussions and reviews with designers and product managers.
  • Provide your inputs on improving the designs or wireframes.
  • Work with your design team to perform usability reviews. Deeply understand usability issues.
  • Be an advocate of good UX and influence your development team to pick UX improvements in sprints.

To make an impact, you need to understand your business better

Involve in customer discussions with the product, marketing, customer success, or sales teams. Try to understand your organization’s business better.

  • Who are our customers, and what problems are they trying to solve?
  • Are we meeting customers' expectations, and what can we do to delight them?
  • What do customers like about our product, and what are their pain points?
  • What features would our customers want to see in your product?
  • Who are our competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is our product’s differentiator? And what are our product gaps?
  • Conduct a competitor analysis to compare your offerings with that of your customers.

Use the insights from these learnings to devise a test strategy that can help you and your organization succeed.

2. Automate your bug reporting - cut down back-and-forth of bugs

Tester’s love discovering bugs but documenting them saps their energy. Tester’s spend their maximum time writing bugs, a cumbersome and time-intensive activity. Tester’s know the significance of a good bug report. But when working in compressed test execution cycles and there are too many bugs to report, testers may have to cut corners to meet the deadlines.

A comprehensive and informative bug report is essential for the developer to understand and debug any issue. However, poor bug reports lead to confusion as they are unclear and lack necessary details. Additionally, they lead to the back-and-forth between developers and testers, slowing down the entire development process.

We often talk about automating our tests; what about automating our bug reporting?

Bird Eats Bug is a modern bug reporting tool that enables you to create high-quality bug reports instantly by automating the most time-consuming tasks. With a click of a button, Bird captures steps to reproduce and all the technical information (console logs, network logs, system information, etc.) needed by the developer to debug the issue. You can also create an audio/video explanation in case of a complex bug. Bird provides multiple visual recording options and seamlessly integrates with your existing tools like Jira, Github, Trello, Slack, etc.

Testing Leaders need to ensure that their teams spend maximum time on testing rather than reporting bugs. Automating bug reporting increases the efficiency of your testing team and helps in accelerating your release velocity.

Get Bird for your team for free!

3. Enable testers to be transformation champions

Every organization needs to transform to keep evolving and meet its strategic objectives. Resistance to change is the most significant barrier for every transformation initiative. A top-down approach to a transformation may not be practical as the team members are affected and responsible for executing the change. To mitigate team–resistance, leaders need to develop champions who live and breathe the recent change. Creating champions within the team is the key to successfully adopting the new change.  

Transformation champions are highly valued and respected as they drive a change to create a competitive edge for their organization. Being a transformation champion can be a very rewarding and enriching experience for the testers. As a testing leader, help your organization succeed in change management - and get involved in Agile/DevOps, trying out new technology, or any other transformation initiatives.

Foster a culture that enables testers to become agents of change

  • Pick testers who can facilitate, influence the transformation and demonstrate the value it can bring.
  • Coach them with the necessary skills, knowledge, and tools to maximize outcomes during the transformation.
  • Define roles and responsibilities for transformation champions.
  • Allow testers as transformation champions to evangelize the initiative across the organization.

To succeed as champions, testers need to be developed and supported by leadership

  • Publicly empower testers by giving them the authority to lead. Let testers work on educating and promoting the new change.
  • As a leader, help your testers resolve people's fear and concerns about the change.

4. Remove the taboo about testing in production

In software development, testing in production is considered taboo. Tester’s stay away from testing in production due to a restricted mindset and limited permissions.
We need to realize that testing on the staging or test environments is not enough because:

  • Usually, staging environments are scaled-down replicas of the production environment.
  • The staging environment cannot simulate production-like scenarios and conditions due to differences in configurations, dependencies, data, scale, etc.
  • Ensuring the parity between staging and production environments remains a challenge due to constraints like cost and maintenance.
  • You can find some bugs only when you test with real data and traffic in real user environments,

Remember that testing in production should not be a substitute for pre-production testing. Testing in production is a shift-right activity that you should consider part of your testing strategy. Modern development teams have realized the benefits of testing in production and can release faster with confidence.

As a testing leader, empower your team members to test in real-user conditions without impacting your customers. Below are some shift-right approaches that let tester’s safely test a new feature on the production scale and data.

  1. Feature Flags/Feature toggle - a technique that lets you enable or disable (toggle) a feature without deploying new code. Feature flags can be a conditional statement inside the source code. For instance, a feature flag may look at a particular value in your configuration file and decide to execute the code or ignore it.

    You can hide the newly released feature from your customers until you test and gain confidence. Feature toggles enable your rollout in stages and manage your blast radius. Once you gain enough confidence, you can incrementally switch on the feature flag for your customers.
  1. Canary/Phased rollout - a deployment strategy that rolls out the new software update to a subset of users first. Upon gaining confidence, you release it incrementally to the rest of the users. With Canary deployments, testers can validate if the new features function fine on production. The canary lets you roll back safely with minimal impact in case of issues.

    Similar strategies like Blue-Green deployments, A/B testing, Application Performance monitoring, Real user monitoring, Chaos testing, etc., let you test, identify and fix issues in production before your customer spot and report them.

5. Build a learning culture

Testers need to constantly update themselves with the latest technologies and skills to avoid getting outdated. Upskilling testers within the team becomes vital to meet your organization's expectations and needs. Hiring new testers with the latest skills is not a sustainable solution.

A learning culture encourages and values learning. Furthermore, it positively impacts employee engagement, retention, productivity, and overall satisfaction. In fast-paced environments, often learning takes a back seat. Teams may not take learning seriously until you formalize them and tie it to their KPIs.

  • Leadership plays a crucial role in building a learning culture. Good testing leaders foster a learning culture and have a genuine interest in the long-term success of their testers.
    • Learn how to coach your team. Learn the skills required to develop and grow your testers.
    • Help other managers and leaders to develop and demonstrate behavior that supports learning.
  • Identify emerging skills gaps and help your teams update themselves by providing them with the required resources.
    • Create personalized developmental plans for your team members based on their strengths, weaknesses, interests, domain knowledge, etc.
    • Make personal development and learning a mandatory goal for everyone.
    • Create opportunities for the learning and growth of your testers.
      • Organize external training sessions to bridge gaps.
      • Reimburse the fees for courses, training, conferences, certifications, etc.
      • Get access to online learning platforms to help your testers advance their careers.
      • Encourage them to read books, blogs, articles, and magazines to help them excel in their roles.
      • Encourage your testers to attend conferences and meetups. Buy them the tickets if needed.
  • Encourage knowledge sharing within the team.
    • Identify subject matter experts within the organization and encourage them to share their knowledge.
    • Schedule regular in-house training or brown bags. Rewarding the speakers with gifts and coupons.
  • Leverage the collective creativity in the team - Organize brainstorming sessions to discuss and solve common problems.
  • Help other testing leaders to develop and demonstrate the behaviors that support learning.
  • Get feedback on the training and development initiatives to determine if they are helping your team.
  • Recognize, motivate and reward testers who have learned new skills and implemented the learnings in their day-to-day work.

Conclusion

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to elevating your testing team. I have shared some ideas that worked for me in the past. Experimentation is the key to innovation. Try different approaches until you figure out what works for you. Remember, change is generally a gradual process. Gain momentum by starting with one or two ideas that align with your current testing strategy and will have lesser resistance.

Don't forget to try Bird and enable your testers to create perfect bug reports that developers love.

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