That gave me the chance to gather knowledge about how a highly-skilled QA team should be built, finding a balance between the human side (the most important) and the technical side. Based on what I have found, learned and applied, I want to share 5 key tips to build a highly skilled and world-class QA team, like ours.
1 - Know your team (people come first...always!)
When you join a new team as Manager, Lead, or Director the first step to take before anything else is to know your team as you will find a multitude of skills, personalities, and cultures. These findings are a starting point to drive the way the team is going to be built or managed. It’s also very important to take the time to meet them (on a one-to-one basis when possible). Having these quick touch bases with people and taking the time to meet them, will show to your team your human side and make them feel closer to their new leader. During these one-on-ones you will identify skills and personalities, meet the potential leaders in your team and probably identify hidden talents to be potentialized. As you listen to each person on the team, it is important to identify which are their pain points and insecurities. It will give you an idea of where to start making improvements.
2 - Understanding the company’s ecosystem
Joining a company in a leadership position will always be challenging, as there may be many uncertainties , methodologies, projects and tech stacks to understand at the beginning. That’s the reason why understanding the company’s ecosystem is our second priority.
One of the first steps to take after knowing your team is to review the company methodologies, including the internal software development life cycle and in-house developed techniques. You are in a leadership position so where possible do a deep dive into every project, identify the project types and their models, do your search on the clients and review which are the types of engagements your team is facing and go for those main paint points that will be part of your responsibility to work hand by hand with other Leads and Directors in their solution.
Finally, go for the tech stack with the knowledge acquired in the first two reviews, it will be easy for you to understand why those technologies were chosen and who in your team will be impacted by them, especially the Test Automation Team from a technical perspective.
3 - Now that you know the company, go deep into your area
You know your team, you know the company, it's time to dive into your area and start restructuring your new home. One of the first things to do is understand your internal processes.
Many QA teams use ISTQB as guidance, but what happens when companies don’t or have their own processes? This is the reason why reviewing internal processes is very important: you need the time to check the methodology, the participants , the deliverables and how the process is being measured. Analyzing the latter will show a clear path to the current status of the area.
It is important to review the present to think about the future, so reviewing metrics and the historical project’s data will give you more ideas for the decisions that need to be made. For example, if your team involves Test Automation you should review the tools and technology stack available, same way with the frameworks and development techniques. Remember the market is very dynamic nowadays and we need to keep an eye on what’s coming.
Finally, every area should have its own goals. Having them and reviewing them is important, make sure to be aligned with the area and company goals and if you feel there is something missing, feel free to propose them. Also, make sure to define goals, milestones and follow-ups. The company where you are working will appreciate this type of initiative.
4 - You have the basics, it’s time to suggest changes
Based on my experience and what we are building here at Zemoga, one of the most important changes is related to career paths and growth expectations. As leaders or directors, we are responsible for a high percentage of our team’s growth (not only technical growth), so we have to combine what we’ve learned from previous analysis, the team’s expectations, what they want to achieve and what is going to drive the growth of the area and the company. Use this to establish a mechanism to provide tools and guidance, as a complement of this analysis you will have to start creating mentor/mentee relationships inside the team, identifying roles and responsibilities for this and giving part of the ownership to those leaders identified in the first step of this list.
Another group of changes is going to come from the technical analysis, and as I mentioned before the market is very dynamic, so it’ll be a key play to review the state of the art of technical implementations, also what’s coming in for the future. With this information you can set a roadmap and timelines with the needed research, POC and implementations.
5 - Build trust
Not too much to say about this, you are a new member of a team, build trust within your team, act as a unit and understand everyone is in the same boat.
Being the new lead in a QA -or other technical- area is not easy, however, I hope these 5 key tips will help you during this new journey, there is no magic trick to go across a team’s establishment process but there are common situations that can be generalized in order to have a smooth path to a successful leadership position adoption.
Read this article, analyze every tip and check it against your own experience, you will find answers to situations and questions you experienced before.
About Zemoga’s world-class QA Team
We are a multidisciplinary QA team that works together to design, create and produce unique testing strategies for our clients. With a mix of passion, creativity, talent and dedication applied to engineering, we proudly are responsible for the QA process in different global OTT applications, websites and mobile apps. Every client is a unique journey and every client gets a unique testing experience. Learn more about what your QA experience would look like when partnering with Zemoga!