The Changing Role of the QA Analyst

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Over 50 years ago, Bob Dylan sang “For the times they are a-changin’”. Technology is no exception. In our daily dose of online tech bytes, we read multiple declarations of technical innovation that promise to impact our lives now or in the future.

You’ve no doubt experienced change first hand if you’ve made a career in the software industry. Keeping up with the almost-daily technological change is a full time job for anyone in the field. Developers will be quick to speak about how they must always be learning newer ways to create better software. In the ever increasing need to deliver continuously to customers, the ability to provide up-to-date solutions is a skill in high demand.

Developers aren’t the only ones that must stay on top of their game. The Quality Assurance analyst must as well. Testing methods and styles have changed. Creating test cases and executing them step-by-step is no longer a primary requirement to fulfill a QA role. We must identify strengths in our experience and gaps in our current knowledge for QA to provide greater value to the delivery team and to the client’s bottom line.

Improve Technological Skills

Having a technical understanding of the software will help you investigate and diagnose issues. It also enables you to report bugs with details that are understood by the developer. This allows faster turnaround with defect verification and resolution. Based on the type of software you are testing, knowledge of programming language and developer tools can give you an advantage. If you’re testing a web application, study HTML, CSS, or JavaScript. Learn how to use browser developer tools when cross browser testing. Want to be part of the automation test team? Invest in an online course in Ruby, PHP or Java. Download trial versions of automation tools such as Selenium or SoapUI and learn the basics. If you are engaged in Mobile App testing, become familiar with OS and Android developer tools. These are all practical ways to expand your hi-tech skill set.

Bridge the Gap

Communicating, problem solving and critical thinking skills are part of being an effective QA. Ask to participate in JAD sessions. Listen to the stakeholder’s needs and provide input on technical solutions. Acquire an understanding of the business rules for upcoming features. Design your test cases using the knowledge gained from these discussions. Execute your test cases while keeping the end user in mind. This will ensure that the finished implementation meets the acceptance criteria before handing off to the product owner.

Be Agile

Although the term agile is used to describe a software methodology, the simple definition of agile is the ability to move quickly and easily. It means being efficient, adaptable and quick-thinking. A QA analyst is expected to provide test coverage in a timely manner so that defects surface early. If you are part of an Agile team, testing occurs within the sprint. The QA team no longer has the luxury of the traditional pre-release test phase. Being accurate with estimations in grooming sessions, and incorporating intelligent testing, through methods such as exploratory testing, allows QA the ability to provide sufficient test execution coverage. This helps establish confidence in all members of the project team.

Become a subject matter expert for your company’s product. Learn how it’s made, how it will work, and how the end user will benefit. Incorporating developer, business analyst and project management skills into your QA role will increase your productivity and your value. Times change, and as QA professionals, the onus is ours to accept and adapt.

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