How to combat shortages in testing teams

Kamil Czornyj | Quality Assurance | 24.07.2019

Jak uzupełnić braki w zespole testerskim?

In times when there are dozens of solutions available for everyone, only an application that stands out due to its quality can win the user’s trust. Software is required to be useful, efficient and at the same time invulnerable to attacks. Assurance in the context of project reliability can only come if a suitable testing team is involved. What about if, during the course of a project, we are faced with a shortage of such specialists or competences at a crucial moment? How to fill the gaps in the testing team?

Selection of the testing team

It’s no secret that finding the appropriate developer for a project is a difficult task. The number of solutions and approaches in programming means that the technology stack for each project is different. Only by finding a person who specializes in a given field can we be sure that their skills will be used throughout the entire duration of the project. The situation is slightly different when we search for a specialist in the field of software quality with specific competencies. Often, in order to reduce project costs, one or two people responsible for Quality Assurance are engaged, and they are required to posess a wide range of skills. However, in this case, can we expect that all types of tests will be run at the highest level?

It is worth taking all the tester’s activities in the testing area into consideration. There are some typical tasks which are universal, though. For example, analysing requirements, creating test specifications, preparing testing data, and – finally – implementing and running tests as well as documenting divergence from the expected results. However, taking the number of platforms and types of tests into account, it turns out that these are only a small part of the activities that can be performed by testers as part of their daily work. Therefore, choosing a suitable testing team requires knowledge in the context of testing specialization as well as building the appropriate strategy. Only then can we expect tests of the highest quality.

Testers – areas of specialization

As is the case with developers, each person dealing with Quality Assurance (admittedly, a broad definition) specializes in a particular area of testing. For example, let’s just mention:

  • manual tests,
  • database or Big Data tests,
  • game testing,
  • e-commerce testing,
  • performance testing,
  • security tests,
  • automated tests.

Read also: Let’s promote the role of automated testing in a Scrum projects

Each of the abovementioned areas marks a different approach and calls for different testing skills and knowledge. In addition, the number of solutions within each of them should be taken into consideration, such as:

  • the languages and frameworks in which automated tests are created,
  • tools for creating regression tests and test management (such as: Ranorex, TestComplete or Katalon),
  • the differences between particular types of SQL databases (Oracle, MySQL, MS SQL) and other existing database models, such as NoSQL;
  • the vulnerabilities of various IT systems.

Testing team – choosing the strategy

Software testing is important, and so is choosing the right strategy and hiring testers with the right specialization profile. A specialist experienced in testing web or desktop applications will not be as effective in mobile application testing. This is why, in order to ensure that the software is of the highest quality, we need to choose a team of testers that would best suit our project.

Regardless of the strategy chosen, testing is different at each stage of the project, and its intensity changes too. Activities such as functional testing, preparation of regression tests or re-tests require, for example, spending more time and involving a much larger number of testers compared to non-functional tests. This is brought about by the number of changes implemented in the application in a given area. However, for performance, security or usability tests to be reliable, they should be carried out by much more qualified specialists with expert knowledge in their respective domains.

Shortages in the testing team

Problems often occur when one of the testers leaves the company or goes on sick leave. We are unable to predict all random events, and turnover on the current dynamic labor market is a natural phenomenon. It may also turn out that testing needs will be underestimated during the estimation stage.

Shortages in the testing team, regardless of the cause of and solution to the problem, are associated with additional costs for the employer. When deciding to hire an additional QA specialist, we have to take costs into consideration – and often the project budget does not provide for such a situation. So how can we fill the gaps in the testing team? One solution is to delegate some of the tasks to an external company as part of TaaS (Testing as a Service). This allows you to run specific types of on-demand tests, which are suited to the current needs.

Cloud competences

We store important documents, files, as well as entire databases and systems in the cloud. But how about keeping competences in the cloud?

Sometimes, in the final phase of the project, it turns out that despite the completion of development work, the number of functionalities to be tested exceeds the capabilities of the team. This may be due not only to the insufficient number of testers, but also competence shortages. When the team hits the wall in terms of difficulties, it’s usually too late for additional training. Testing as a Service functions as a cloud of testers’ competences. Ill-considered recruitment activities and expenses for quick training will not help to provide a high-quality product, yet thanks to testing on demand, we gain access to a database of proven specialists. This is how we save time required for the onboarding of new employees and sharing our know-how with them.

Filling the gaps – Testing as a Service

Testing as a Service is advantageous due to a high level of flexibility, which makes it work for all types of tests. The main advantage of Testing as a Service is the possibility of employing testers at a certain stage, without the necessity of paying for the service throughout the entire duration of the project.

One of the possibilities is the involvement of functional testers, the number and specialization of whom are chosen individually, according to current needs. Such testers are able to perform independent user interface, database, regression or acceptance tests or UATs (User Acceptance Testing).

The other option is performance tests, carried out by performance testers with know-how relating to a project in its final phase as part of TaaS. They will check whether the software meets the requirements in terms of application performance during standard use by a particular number of users, and also in the event of an exceptional load.

It is also worth considering Testing as a Service in case of security tests. External testers verify the security solutions implemented in the application and identify system vulnerabilities which could, for example, allow unauthorized users to take unwanted actions.

Summary

Choosing employees in the field of Quality Assurance is not easy. The project budget often does not allow for the employment of specialists from any testing area or for the quick training of employees, and unforeseen events often cause delays. Excessive tasks can be entrusted to other testers, but if they are done in a hurry or without the required skills, quality will suffer. In such situations it is worth utilizing Testing as a Service, which will mean that experts with the required competencies are available exactly when needed. This flexible solution allows you to minimize costs, while at the same time ensuring the highest testing standards.

See more: Software testing

The author of the post is:

He has been working as a tester for 3 years, for all of this time in JCommerce. He managed to start an internship from the Silesian Technology University. Next he was a junior and regular tester. He has started his testing adventure from manual testing. Currently he runs automated tests. He has been running tests of mobile, web and desktop applications. For a couple of months he is a tutor in a training center, wherein he teaches manual testing.

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