Into the shoes of a QA: The FAQ
Answering the same questions I had in your place and providing some valuable tips on beginning the QA journey.
My FAQ story
After going through the rockiest parts of the QA path, I am competent enough to give you some insight into the questions that naturally come up in the training process.
Like many juniors in the Quality Assurance field, I quickly realized that offline and online courses fall short of preparing you for the real world. Plenty of questions that appear trivial at first glance are complex once you scratch beneath the surface. Let’s unpack them one by one.
Who is the QA?
QA as a person, is responsible for making sure that all parts of the software work intact both together and separately. QA as a process is the systematic and comprehensive procedures defined and followed by QA specialists.
What does a QA do?
In an IT company, a QA would be concerned with tracking the progression and development process of what is being worked on. He points out what is a good idea and what is not and keeps track of the requirements and tests according to them.
Textbooks say that "QAs ensure that the products customers receive consistently meet or exceed expectations." or perhaps "QAs follow a process that reduces the costs for the stakeholder by ensuring that bugs and inconsistencies are rare and sometimes avoided.". That said, I much prefer bullet points that better depict the actual work being done:
- QAs assist the process in which the "inquiries" transform into a well-structured documentation
- QAs are proactive and responsible for minor changes that play in the big picture that help the project save time and money
- QAs explore the products being tested for a better understanding of the product's business objectives
- QAs identify potential weaknesses at every stage, starting from the planning phase
- QAs measure the user-friendliness of the product (through surveying end users and getting their feedback, for example)
- QAs maintain customer trust through communication with the clients.
Why are QAs necessary?
As QAs, we possess broader product knowledge and understanding of how to use the system in the way a real user would. We are also accustomed to catching edge-case bugs and have observed first-hand the peculiar ways some individuals use software solutions. Through our skills and experience, we ensure that the product meets the client's requirements and that we have shipped exemplary software.
What is the proper mindset for a QA?
A QA is supposed to be critical to a top point, starting from the planning phase. QAs should also emphasize requirement consistency and speculation of possible problems that might occur before the actual work of the product has begun. During the development phase, a QA is supposed to do mindful testing, mimicking the user behavior while also exploring edge cases. This process is documented, and the main usage scenarios become user stories and flows that need to be tested regularly.
Are we so OP to spot all those evil bugs?
No, and that's fine! We are considered an effective QA not by the quantity of discovered bugs but by their severity. So, what we can do to be the best version of ourselves as QA is to be consistent in our working and learning process.
This means that we sometimes catch all the bugs. But our persistence pays well in the end:
- We become efficient.
- New ideas appear with new projects.
- We get to be more reliable for our colleagues
Bonus: Quick-growth hacks
It is essential to have a sense of continuous and gradual improvement because you risk losing motivation, becoming frustrated, and even giving up without it. Let me share some tips for maintaining a positive attitude and taking control of the training process:
- Mentally prepare for a lot of new information. A LOT. QAs speak their language, and learning it will take time, patience, and consistency.
- Communicate with your seniors constantly. Search for tips and inquire about the correct terms, as there are plenty of them to memorize. You never know what gem might come up in a regular conversation.
- Attempt daily meetings with anybody more experienced than you and chat about the IT world. The common knowledge adds up, and you even make some new friends.
- Spend time on your reading, researching, and googling the topics you’re working on or are about to work on. The most effective learning method is studying something you are interested in. Find where your passion is at the moment and follow it. The QA world is vast, and you will always be able to find a curious topic to delve deeper into.
- Ask questions. Ask your seemingly foolish questions too. And if you heard the phrase “there’s no such thing as a “stupid question,” only an unasked one“? Oh, there are. Plenty. Still - ask bravely.
- Take hints from past projects. Discuss with your seniors how previous systems were designed and where the problems lay. That includes what bugs appeared during their development, what was important, what wasn’t, and what the priorities were. Absorbing the condensed experience of your peers will make you ingenious in the new projects you take on. Learning from others is a life skill that is undoubtedly beyond precious for upcoming QAs.
- Take advice from seniors, observe their working methodology, how much time they spend on their work, and how they tackle their problems. You might receive advice that they applied and it didn’t work for them, but it works for you.
- Remember to laugh during the process. You cannot be serious all the time. Mistakes occur while writing the documentation while testing, and communicating. Accept them as part of the learning process, and may laughter be the spoon of sugar that you need during learning.
You have officially stepped into the shoes of the QA and know the answers to the frequently asked questions. Keep in mind - the series “In the shoes of a QA” is just beginning and will continue with the hottest topics like:
- REST API
- GraphQL API
- Manual Testing
- Writing Test Scenarios
- Useful tools