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Creating, executing, and maintaining reliable tests has never been easier.
The world is in the midst of the Great Resignation: record numbers of people are taking stock of the past 18 months and seizing the opportunity to make serious career changes. A recent survey from Bankrate discovered that 55% of Americans are looking for a new role within the next twelve months, primarily because they’re looking for more flexibility, better pay, and job security.
As a high-demand role that’s quickly growing in importance, it’s hardly a leap to assume that many software testers and QA specialists are among those considering a job change. For many, the leap to management is an attractive opportunity to earn a higher salary and negotiate more flexibility. But navigating that leap can be challenging, especially as QA transforms into quality engineering. Though there are many roads to becoming a QE leader, there are a few shared skills that make future quality managers stand out from the crowd.
Leading Quality Engineering’s Growing Role
Every QE person needs a diverse range of skills that span soft skills and technical skills. Managing an effective QE team is no different. Aspiring quality leaders need to be able to communicate well with a number of stakeholders, guide their organization’s testing strategy, and find actionable insights in data.
Quality engineering requires working with developers, product managers, and customer service to ensure a positive user experience, even as the product evolves. As team leaders, QE managers have the added responsibilities of setting expectations within their own teams as well as with the rest of the DevOps pipeline to make sure everyone understands their role in a culture of quality.
QE managers are the advocate for quality, and ultimately, the customer experience. They need to be able to connect the dots between code, testing, and user feedback to help the entire development team work more efficiently, while still building a better product. For better or worse, this often means sharing failed tests, defects, or release delays. Effective QE leaders should be able to clearly share the necessary details, coach people through challenging scenarios, and set manageable goals for improvement. Clear communication sets the stage for faster problem solving when it matters most, and helps QE leaders support their company through major transformations like DevOps adoption.
Quality engineering doesn’t equate solely to software testing, but a thorough understanding of both manual and automated testing is a valuable asset for future QE leaders. A practical knowledge of software testing will help QE leaders navigate how best to allocate testing hours, expand their testing strategy, and evaluate testing success.
Software testing teams are increasingly being asked to take on more responsibility within the development organization, and much of that comes down to testing. The customer journey now includes email and PDFs, developers are relying on more APIs than ever, and end-to-end testing is significantly more complex. QE leaders are responsible for creating testing strategies that can accommodate this new reality, as well as ensuring that their team has the knowledge and tools to execute them. A solid understanding of both manual and automated testing is invaluable for aspiring QE leaders as they take on greater responsibility.
The range of data available in software development is near overwhelming, especially as more organizations integrate more data-driven decision making into their development pipeline. But, as many teams are discovering, turning that data into action is a daunting task. Quality teams especially are inundated with information from test results, developers, product managers, and customer success as they manage quality across the SDLC.
QE leaders bring order to this data chaos with insight, which allows them to focus on the most useful information, use it to identify potential issues, and create a solution. Good QE leaders, for example, can observe a growing amount of unplanned work and a larger number of bugs caught late in development, and suggest that their team shift testing to the left to catch defects earlier. When combined with good communication skills, insight enables QE leaders to focus their team’s activities on the most impactful quality improvements.
Learn, Discover, and Always Ask Questions
Quality engineering is an exciting field that encompasses software testing, the customer experience, DevOps adoption, and more. There are many roads to becoming a leader in the industry, and the best one is simply the path that works best for you. When in doubt, remember that QA also stands for Question Asker, so always look to expand your knowledge of test automation platforms, the user experience, and modern software development practices to prepare yourself for a leadership role at the forefront of software quality.