Managing a QA Team for the First Time
28 April, 2021
For quite some time, we were using an offshore QA team based in India. A year ago, we decided to terminate the contract and bring all our QA efforts in-house. Though QA and Development were kept separate in the past, it was decided that an in-house QA effort will report to Development. The rationale behind the new organizational structure was that since QA worked closely with Development, it should report to the same manager.
However, as a manager, I had scarce knowledge of QA; I had never been a QA engineer and had no knowledge of tools and processes they were using. Furthermore, since we were not working anymore with contractors, I had to start hiring for QA roles. I had no idea what to look for in candidates and, once hired, how to onboard them.
First off, I deep-dived into the code and explored the existing automation. I was not happy with what I found. A lot of failed test cases were not cleaned up, many irrelevant features were still being tested, the whole process was very inefficient, difficult to maintain, and unscalable. Since that was the only automation framework we had, I had to fix it first before advocating for building an improved framework.
I started by removing some tests that were no longer relevant and fixing those that were meaningful. Upon deep-diving into the code, I encountered an unfamiliar QA framework and programming languages I never worked with before. Surprisingly I felt confident because I am a natural hacker. I am not the most skillful person when it comes to building things from scratch, but I am an outstanding hacker.
It didn’t take me long to familiarize myself with QA in general and be able to interview incoming candidates and assess their skills. In the end, we hired three senior QA engineers, and I relied on their expertise to further improve my knowledge of QA.
With their feedback, I felt confident that we should get rid of the low-quality QA framework developed by the contractors. I wanted us to build a new scalable and reusable framework. I encouraged our recently hired senior engineers to architect the new framework, and I was overseeing and managing the process from a high-level perspective. Finally, we managed to migrate from the old framework to the new one successfully.
- When you are switching from one domain to the other, don’t be hesitant to deep-dive into a new subject matter. Try to familiarize yourself as much as you can with the new domain through reading, talking to experts, and of course, rolling up your sleeves.
- Building a team from scratch is particularly taxing when unfamiliar with tools or technology. You need to acquire at least some basic understanding of tools and technology to be able to hire people who will later bear the brunt of executing the work.
Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader
William Bajzek, Director of Engineering at Sapphire Digital, remembers the first time that he needed to make the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the well-being of his team.
Director of Engineering at Sapphire Digital
James Engelbert, Head of Product at BT, shares his deep understanding of the traits of a successful product manager and how to get aligned with the organization’s path to success.
Head of Product at BT
Rajesh Agarwal, VP & Head of Engineering at Syncro, shares how effectively he collaborated with a newly-joined team as a diverse candidate.
VP and Head of Engineering at Syncro
Matt Anger, Senior Staff Engineer at DoorDash, shares some of the benefits of having one-on-one meetings and tips on how both parties should run them.
Senior Staff Engineer at DoorDash
Han Wang, Director of Engineering at Sonder Inc., shares how he changed a manager’s viewpoint for achieving better results and improved team coordination.
Director of Engineering at Sonder Inc
You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.
Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.