Track Talk Th1

A Square Peg in a Round Hole? Using Big Ideas to Shape a Small Team

Katherine Haigh

09:00-09:45 CEST Thursday 9th June

I first attended a testing conference in 2015, as manager of a small but successful QA team. The topics were as you might expect – automation, DevOps, scrum, metrics, accessibility testing. I attended as many talks as I could, and the more I went to, the more I felt a bit scared. I’d never (to my knowledge) created a test suite or reviewed the test coverage of a piece of code. I’d never used Selenium or SoapUI. I’d never even heard of the ISTQB. What was I doing here? More importantly, what was my team doing, back at the office? There were so many things we weren’t doing!

It wasn’t until a couple of years later that it hit me – what we were doing in our company worked for us. We might not document them meticulously or recreate them for each new project, but we did have plans and processes and protocols, and they were based on the same fundamental testing principles I’d learned about at that first conference. We might not use the term ‘test suite’ but we had plenty of collections of tests, and tools to confirm their code coverage. My QA team might have never created a single unit test, but the developers did that and we added value by doing functional testing on completed features.

The company’s reputation for quality wasn’t a fluke. With a QA team of 4 in a company of 60, where even the CEO had a high level of technical knowledge, there was no need for us to produce glossy metric reports for management or written test plans for the developer team lead, who sat just a few meters away from us. It didn’t matter if we didn’t call it ‘functional testing’ – everyone knew what we meant when we said we’d verified a story.

But we didn’t stop going to conferences. We might not be able to take every talk back to work and apply it directly, but we can build on the principles. We’ve started automating some of our manual workflow tests, we’ve attended UX training courses, we’ve worked out which metrics provide meaningful data about the team’s progress and captured them on a webpage. I’ve improved my management skills – and my team and I have become better testers. I’d love to share the story of how I’ve applied big industry-standard trends and processes to shape my little QA team.