Reorg/ Restructuring for Increased Efficiency and Happiness Levels

Svetlana Polonsky

Head of Quality Engineering at Quicken



"In my most recent company I was hired to help make the reorganization and restructuring process more efficient. The teams were not able to deliver on time plus they were not able to support the amount of development they were given by the development teams. Additionally, QA was struggling with all the information needed for effective testing. Moreover, people were not happy in their current roles because they were doing things they didn't want to do. The teams were too focused on delivery, always concentrating on deliverables, rather than focused on team atmosphere and team happiness."

Actions taken

"I wanted to understand the main frictions between QA and developers, and QA and product managers. So I began by interviewing all the leads and managers from my team, as well as from corresponding development and product management teams. It became obvious that a large portion of the concentration was on a more complex product, understandably, but that it was not being worked on by the right set of people. Thus, I needed to reassess the real passion of individual contributors and leads on my team, the skills needed, and the technology stack.

It turned out that this complex application was staffed mostly by front-end QA, people who did black box testing. Yet, this was not correct and should instead have had at least one strong back-end engineer- somebody who reads, writes, and understands the code in order to easily navigate other team members and aid them with their testing.

So, essentially, we reevaluated everybody's admission skills, technical skills, and their desire to work on different technology stacks. I then reorganized everyone into six different teams. Each team utilized different skills so that there is a good balance of highly technical people, less technical people, and people who understand the product very well. This shortened the regression testing by 50% in several months so that now developers didn't have to wait, product managers didn't have to push the dates back, and our deliverables were on time. It evolved into full synchronicity so that everyday stress and struggles were reduced and the teams were happier overall."

Lessons learned

  • "When you're doing restructuring and reorganization, you have to not only think about deliverables but also about the cultural fit of every single person and every single team. What type of atmosphere does your organization currently have and what do you want it to look like after a reorg."
  • "Continuously assess technical background and personal goals. Can this person work on this team now, or should I plan to move them to another team in a couple of months when they've had the chance to learn a certain set of skills? Check in with managers and ask them about how each person is doing on their team and assist them to realize the potential for a person. If they want to learn any new skill, then pair them up with other people. Have them try different things and get to know different people, that way they never feel new on a team."

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Svetlana Polonsky

Head of Quality Engineering at Quicken

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