Over the past few years, the QA industry has evolved rapidly, demanding new skills from QA professionals. The line between developers and testers is not so clear anymore. In companies like Google, QA engineers are expected not only to test but also to write the code, if necessary. With this, the need for highly skilled professionals in QA like Test Managers and Test Architects continues to grow. So companies are concerned about how to attract talents to their projects and how to retain them in the team. In this article, we’re going to dig more deeply into these issues.
Four steps to recruit a dream QA team
Managers should consider four important factors when looking for outstanding candidates.
1. The company’s reputation
The best way to attract talents to a project is to build your company a name that speaks for itself. So that people want to work in your cool team.
Involve a few professional leaders in your processes. The thought of working under somebody who knows and teaches others new things is appealing. For that purpose, consider hiring some testing experts who are known for taking part in QA conferences and publishing their research.
Invest in cutting-edge tools that technicians love. Innovative companies always have a higher chance to attract tech-savvy QA engineers.
Last but not the least, headhunt for talented university students. To do so, a company can cooperate with local universities in organizing guest lectures, conferences, and competitions. If interested, the brightest engineering students are likely to join your QA team.
2. The right combination of roles and skills
Every staff should represent a healthy mix of the two types of employees: the narrowly focused specialists who dig deeply into their work and the broad-minded team members who bring in fresh ideas. Recruiters should look not only for candidates that will fill out the roles but also for those with interpersonal skills and knowledge in various fields. Such a combination of expertise and creative thinking leads businesses to success. Remember Steve Jobs, whose side hobby of calligraphy contributed to the first Mac’s outstanding typography.
3. Diversity for better outcomes
Different experiences and points of view result in more effective identification of bugs while testing. For example, when one of the first YouTube video apps was developed, the picture in some cases turned out to be upside down. That happened because most developers and testers working on the project were right-handed. The left-handed engineers were those who fixed that bug. That’s why the executives should promote the idea of hiring minority candidates, foreigners, and those who didn’t graduate from the top universities. We prefer to hire QA specialists with different previous experiences, for example, developers, painters, and lawyers. Their experience helps us to test highly specialized products better.
4. Candidate-friendly recruiting campaigns
To attract the appropriate candidates, companies should implement a well-thought-out QA recruitment strategy. Advertise job openings widely by using all possible channels. Involve recruiters with international expertise. Include more details in the job postings by mentioning the technologies and processes you use and emphasizing the need for collaboration skills in applicants. Finally, make your technical interviews more candidate-friendly by removing the whiteboard approach and introducing simpler tests to verify the applicants’ skills.
Seven tips on how to retain the talents in your team
Good managers know that retaining high-quality employees is no less important than finding new ones. It costs approximately six times as much to hire and train a new team member than to keep an already employed member properly motivated. Of course, the best solution is to have a mix of new and old employees to ensure the combination of unconventional thinking and a solid decision-making base. But current employees should be the backbone of your team.
Below are some tips on how to manage QA teams that took a company so much effort to build.
1. Provide a remarkable onboarding experience
A newcomer’s first day at work is a chance for an employer to make a great first impression. Establish a comprehensive onboarding procedure to make sure no one is left behind. Familiarize new team members with the organizational chart so that they know whom to ask questions and report to. Assign them mentors who will show them the coding processes and provide all the necessary information about the technologies in place. Finally, set the goals for the beginners for the next week and further so that they can prepare for what’s ahead of them.
2. Advocate for newcomers
Somebody’s bright idea can be rejected just because it’s their first day at work. Therefore, encourage experienced staff members to support their colleagues’ initiatives. Involve the newcomers in challenging projects, entrust them with responsibility, and reward accordingly.
3. Establish a promotion procedure
Without performance reviews, employees will never be motivated enough. To make this process fair, define clear measurable metrics and appoint a group of managers to conduct such reviews. Show appreciation for the team members’ achievements and nominate them for promotion when deserved.
4. Build cross-functional teams
The structure of teams matters. Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos suggested the two-pizza approach. It claims that the team should be small enough to be fed with two pizzas to communicate effectively. Such micro-groups are perfect for Agile practices. Each of them has its QA engineers, software development engineers, and a Project Manager, who group around the common business goal.
5. Encourage self-improvement
If staff members are constantly under stress to keep the pace of deliverables, they don’t have space for professional growth. So each employee needs dedicated hours for studying and experimenting on how to improve the existing processes. The company, in its turn, should reward measurable achievements that lead to an increase in the overall product quality.
6. Train strong managers
Most QA engineers are promoted to senior positions because of their technical skills, not thanks to their communication and leadership talents. However, it’s essential to have capable supervisors to manage the whole team. So appropriate training must be in place to develop the soft skills of those who are in charge.
7. Revise salaries
Staff members are likely to quit even the most appealing projects if they are not paid accordingly. That’s why employers should implement a clear procedure for the revision of salaries. Another way to motivate the team is to introduce an open salary system. Such a solution is not applicable, though, for the cultures where it’s not polite to talk openly about wages.
Efficient QA team management involves the combination of all the above steps. Together with a well-thought-out recruitment campaign, it results in employing and retaining the talent pool for your company.
Perhaps the final tip for the proper management of QA experts is to create a collaborative environment. Celebrate your team’s achievements within the scope of the recognition programs. Introduce bonuses that can be assigned to those whose performance and expertise are beyond all expectations. And sponsor informal gatherings that all the staff members will enjoy.