“Can You QA That?”

   Quality Assurance
Quality Assurance: "Can You QA That?"

If you have ever worked in a software development team, in any capacity, you’ve most likely heard that phrase tossed around. What does it really mean? For most individuals, outside of a Quality Assurance Team, it means, “I need this tested. Can you validate it and report back your findings?” However, for the person on the QA Team, it means something different and altogether just wrong! This is like asking a Banker, “Can you Wells Fargo that?”

Allow me to give some examples.

On most QA Teams you would find several disciplines that are typically in or supporting a development team.

  • Tester
  • Analyst
  • Engineer
  • Manager

Quality Assurance – Engineer for example.

At most Banks, there are several disciplines as well.

  • Teller
  • Mortgage Lender
  • Account Representative
  • Branch Manager

Wells Fargo – Account Representative in this example.

As your needs are more clearly defined by the organization, the need is better understood. I am not going to ask an Analyst to develop automation scripts, no more than I would ask the Mortgage Lender to review my checking account for debit discrepancies.

Quality Assurance built in the system

Quality Assurance is an organization or team. It is not an action. In simpler terms, you do not “QA” anything. There are specific actions taken given each of the organizational roles. Even within that role, there are finer actions that will achieve the desired outcome.

QA is not only an organization but is also a way of doing things — with quality as the result. Similarly, Wells Fargo is an organization that completes tasks to allow you to fulfill your banking needs. QA, as a way of doing things, should be the entire team’s responsibility, in one aspect or another. PM’s write clear requirements, developers write code to fulfill the requirements, and QA testers and engineers validate that the code is meeting the requirements. Each role supports and collaborates with one another ensuring quality for their project.

Getting it right

All too often I witness someone make a statement such as, “That needs QA’d.” Or they ask a person in the QA organization, “Can you QA that?” I regularly stop them and share a short quip about what Quality Assurance means and that making such a statement reflects a poor understanding of the QA person’s role or what Quality Assurance does within the company. When a person with the title of a software developer is asked to test a feature, code, or functionality, they are asked to “test it.” I have never heard someone ask any other person, outside of the QA Organization, “Can you QA that?” They simply state, “That {needs to be | has been} tested.”

Most everyone agrees that quality is a cornerstone of their product. If this is true, take a moment to think about what you’re asking of a colleague in your company. It clearly reflects your understanding of the request and respect for that person’s role within the team. A lot of the best developers, designers or PM’s that I know today came from a Quality Assurance beginning.

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