Happy to welcome Tallitha Campos who has more than 12 years of experience in Information Technology, an enthusiast on new trends, technology and culture to discuss on distributed teams from Quality Analyst perspective. As a Quality Assurance Analyst for 8 years, Tallitha’s customer centric approach helps Yellow Pencil deliver user-friendly software with the finest quality. She has experience working with one of the world’s largest technology company (Hewlett-Packard) and Dell as a Test Analyst. Tallitha has worked several years with remote teams as a test lead based on scrum methodology. Read more of her posts here.
Tallitha, being an experienced Quality Assurance Analyst, what are the best practices you advocate to meet customer needs?
I’m a believer that quality is not limited to the QA team. Every company should have a solid quality control to ensure every team member is following the company’s best practices. As a quality assurance analyst I need to ensure that the requirements are documented and they are met during product development; customer tickets are updated on time; we have good user stories; we have a good test strategy; and we’re meeting the deadlines agreed with the client. Software testing is just a (important) part of the quality assurance process. For customer support, customers expectations can be challenging, so a company should have a trained staff that is able to handle any customer concerns using an open communication channel. Finally, we should always collect feedback from our clients and work on those areas that need improvement.
Read more : Custom Software Development: Choosing the Right Team
What are the must needed skills of a test analyst? What about the soft skills?
Some organisations consider testers lower to developers. How far testers could affect when it comes to measuring the success of a project?
Some people consider testers not as ‘important’ as developers or project managers, but without a solid quality process in place the odds of achieving success are vague. Testers and developers should be at the same level of importance. Developers are responsible for coding and implementing unit testing (white-box); testers are responsible for functional and non-functional tests (black-box), and customer-focused testing; they are often responsible for the automated tests. Testers play a very important role in projects that does not have QA-oriented developers because they’re customer-centric and are the first user that will use your product. As I mentioned before, quality is not limited to testers so everyone in the team should be accountable for delivering a high-quality product or service. While that’s not a reality in most of the companies, I wonder why some organisations consider testers lower to developers?
In the post, it is said that communication plays a vital role between a tester and developer, can you explain in more detail?
Communication is the key to successful projects. It’s present during simple tasks such as writing contracts, describing requirements, commenting a source code, or writing test plans. Developers may be more quiet and focused individuals. The testers I worked with were more verbose, but not necessarily effective when communicating. That’s why having a guideline on how to report defects is such an important thing. Well, that’s the main communication channel between developers and testers so better be good. Imagine working with geographically distributed teams. The developer who should be assigned to a bug is located in a different location. The tester needs to submit a bug and provide all necessary information with as much details as possible. Description, steps to reproduce, test environment, and screenshots. We’re visual people so screenshots are very helpful when triaging a defect. A poor bug description can lead to misinterpretation and cause rework.
Software Testing, highly underrated skill in the development process, what are the key factors when working as a test analyst with an agile team?
Test analysts have plenty of room to act in an agile team. They can work close to product owners/ business analysts; they have the chance to participate on all planning meetings; write or help writing acceptance criteria for user stories; work on automated tests (TDD or BDD), perform exploratory testing. Being a test analyst in an agile team is a great opportunity to help developing a high-quality product since day one.
What is your strategy when requirements change frequently?
I do expect that requirements change frequently when working with new technologies or innovation. It’s also common to have requirements updated all the time when the client is uncertain about something. Here’s when communication plays an essential role. Everyone in the team needs to be aware of the changes. User stories, acceptance criteria and test cases must be updated. Changes can impact the schedule so both the client and the company need to be flexible when replanning the work.
Can you talk more about your experience working with distributed teams and the fast paced environment? What were the challenges faced?
Sure. I’ve being working with globally distributed teams for almost a decade. Teams distributed across different continents, several cities and many time zones. There are some gaps when working with remote teams that can be easily manageable if you have a mature team that communicates frequently, otherwise teams can be often out of sync.
There’s a huge difference working with a team that is 1-hour distant from you then a team that is 12 hours far. You should always keep that in mind when setting up a meeting. And you should also consider the working culture of the people working with you. I strongly recommend to use a meeting planner tool when scheduling meetings. For example, at my last job at HP I had to wait for a day to hear back from the system test team located in China.
If you’re a member of a scrum team, it can be hard to lead daily stand-up meetings because well… it’s supposed to be a stand-up meeting, but you’re not in the same room as your teammates so the meeting should happen over a conference call. The problem is that the chances everybody is paying attention is low.
Read Next >> Skype Down and Carry On