Quality Assistance - Why we tried it

As I mentioned before, Quality Assistance is a testing methodology that focuses on empowering and support the developer on Testing tasks so the team can deliver at speed. In this post, I’m going to talk about the reasons why we tried this approach with our team, as well as some challenges we faced.

I joined the startup right after our QA lead did. It was in interesting timing, all the decisions regarding Quality were still pending. I was lucky that she counted on me for the change, and one of the approaches we wanted to try was Quality Assistance.

Why? Well, I think that the main three reasons were: resource limitation, we were only two to deal with every time, so traditional methodologies based on manual sign off or us automating every check was out of the table; we sincerely believe this is the step forward the industry needs, especially in Agile environments where speed is a key factor; and personally, I’m always willing to try something that would allow me to spend more time doing the activities I love of my role.

It wasn’t the only option we considered, but the one we wanted to try the most. As any other similar change we had a list of challenges to face in order to success in it, and some of them needed to be addressed before working on it.

As always, the first step was convincing the stakeholders. Luckily for me, most of this work were done by my manager, and they were really keen to try the change because they knew the previous approach wasn’t working and agree that Quality ownership should be shared in the team. But, if we want to really convince stakeholders we needed to start gathering metrics to show the results and start using facts as arguments instead of opinions or beliefs. It makes most conversations easier. We struggled on this and I believe if we had focused more on metrics, embracing Quality Assistance would have been smoother. Although I don’t have facts on that…

Convincing the developers at that stage was easy, but when we started to work together on what were the expectations and how we needed to change our way to work… Well, I can ensure you that it’ll take me a whole post talking about some clashes we had during the process. The lack of documentation made it more difficult. So far, it seems that only Atlassian is trying it, so we didn’t have many documentation or examples to show them, and most of the information was focused on QA practitioners out stakeholders. It is also an approach that requires high doses of customization as it depends on each team. We had to focus on a team by team solution, difficulting us to use one solution to convince other teams.

Personally, I also had the challenge of improving my exploratory testing techniques. Previously in my career, I just focused on automated checkings, tooling and performance testing. And this is a crucial part of quality assistance. It was an enlightening experience, learning a lot in such a small period of time, and helping me with the next challenge: thinking how to teach testing. To empower developers with the ability of testing you need to learn how to express all the tacit knowledge you’ve been building for years. It completely changes the perspective because every time I performed a testing task I was actively thinking what is happening inside my head and trying to translate it into words. Challenging for sure, but fun nevertheless.

These were the main walls we had to face before trying Quality Assistance on your organisation. On following posts, I’ll try to focus on different steps that we tried and what was their impact.