Best Practices

Bringing Your QA Team in Early and Often


My career as a project manager has given me the opportunity to work with many different industries. While the challenges and objectives may vary, there are certain themes that are common throughout. One example is the frequent disconnect between the business side and QA. Let me describe a scenario that may be familiar: a project team is sitting in a discovery/requirements meeting with the business, or customer, a member of the QA team joins the conversation and you can almost hear someone in the room say “Oh test!” The thought being that we just took a nice simple conversation with the client and extended it because QA is going to want to go into detail on everything.

Often in my experience, QA can be seen by some product teams as a challenge to a project, but should be seen as a resource – the problem is that they’re often not introduced early enough. Including QA early and often in your discussions can accelerate your product delivery process, reduce defects and better align your product to meet customer needs.

I recently worked with an ISP (Integrated Systems Provider) that makes hardware and software to test air quality for the mining industry. The customer came to us initially because they were looking to Jama for  help with Test Management. This QA group tested both hardware, software and integrated systems for the entire company. As a result, the team was better connected to the overall business.

The product teams on the other hand were generally siloed. As a result, the product teams had to do a lot of re-work after development due to their systems not working well with systems created by the other product teams. Had they included QA in the early requirements development stages, they could have helped uncover any gaps or issues that could arise from these system integrations. By implementing Jama, the company has been able to better connect QA with the product teams, providing better communication, more efficient sharing of information and the ability to identify and resolve issues faster.

Agile project management thrives on having QA involvement. Teams that include stakeholders, developers, and QA should discuss early and often what the product will do and how it will be tested. This can reduce your rework and time to market. Because the QA team hears from the client what they want, they can define test cases that will test what the user wants to do, not just what the developer built. In Jama, QA can also create test cases right alongside requirements.

Lastly, but certainly not least, working with the QA team from the start can help reduce defects. How, you say? Don’t test teams just find defects? If you’re working with QA upfront, they can help your developers or engineers define and run Unit Tests as they code, or build the product. Testing as you build will ultimately reduce defects in the long run. The next time you hear “Test” on your product team, don’t panic – they’re here to help and can greatly improve your process if you involve them sooner and more collaboratively.

Share your thoughts in the comments below or find me on Twitter, @pearlbd.