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  1. #1
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    Starting QA from scratch - what would you do?

    Greetings all - hoping for feedback/insight/sanity check here:

    I was recently hired by a VERY small software house that is revamping everything, trying to do it the right way this time around. It's dev-driven, an xp environment. One of the many hats I have been asked to wear is QA.

    The how & why of it is a long story; I'll spare you.

    What there is none of:
    - requirements, specs, guidelines, readme, QA plans or
    strategies, not even a bloody help file or user guide.

    - completed codebase. Current clients use a product they love but under the covers, it's an unstable spaghetti code mess - so I can't even really comb through code till they finish rebuilding

    - quality assurance - there is a QA Manager, but the less said about him, the better. We are going around him.

    - test environment - I can't replicate the user's (complicated industry specific) environment right now and am fudging it best I can. Yeah, I know...

    What there IS:
    - a smart dev manager who is dedicated making this work

    - a bright young group of talented developers

    - daily scrum that's well documented

    - good new build & bug tracking tools

    So, given the complete & utter lack of anything remotely resembling documentation, and many turns around this and other forums, I hit on a link for exploratory testing using session based management. That's what we are going with, with an added emphases on documentation.

    I am cranking out documentation as quickly as I can. I analyze and document general functionality in the current cranky app, making everyone crazy with my questions. It's all in an internal wiki I update daily with everything from screen captures to configuration to notes.

    I've identified what seem to be good, logical areas of exploratory testing, have created session sheets, and tie everything together in one large test plan, containing the sheets and testing matrix. I've loosely described pass/fail criteria, what I need for a testing environment, all I can think of.

    Won't know how all this will come together until I'm handed a new build, and then I can retool as necessary.

    I'm a little nervous on how all this is going to pan out (it's pretty risky), so can I get a sanity check?

  2. #2
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    Re: Starting QA from scratch - what would you do?


  3. #3
    Moderator Joe Strazzere's Avatar
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    Re: Starting QA from scratch - what would you do?

    "Going around" the QA Manager seems a bit of a risky road to success for a new QAer, but I'm sure you have your reasons.

    Hopefully, you have the backing of upper management.
    Joe Strazzere
    Visit my website: AllThingsQuality.com to learn more about quality, testing, and QA!

  4. #4
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    Re: Starting QA from scratch - what would you do?

    thanks Walen - I've read that thread and needed to be reminded of it.

    Joe, I'm not actually a new QAer but a software engineer who was hired to build tools & automation frameworks. However, nobody could figure out what the QA guy did all day, because it sure wasn't QA. So I was asked to wear that hat and I will, along with several others. I don't work for the QA manager - I work for the dev manager. I have his full support.

    ah, the joys of a small company.

  5. #5
    Moderator Joe Strazzere's Avatar
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    Re: Starting QA from scratch - what would you do?

    Suzanne,

    I think it's the same difference. You are starting QA from scratch, and at the same time you are going around the current QA Manager. Your title may not be "QAer", but you have indicated that you are wearing that hat.

    If you work for the Dev Manager, and she/he supports you, that's certainly a good thing, and might be the only thing that matters.

    But if upper management decides for whatever reason that the current QA Manager is actually responsible for QA, then it's a risk.

    Everything you have indicated about what you are doing sounds reasonable. But, doing an end-run around someone who may or may not have ultimate responsibility for what you are trying to change is always risky.

    Politics in a small company can often be "fun". There's a saying that goes "The developers own the compiler" (or something like that), so I've certainly seen situations where Dev can say "We didn't like the way QA was working, so we'll do it ourselves" - and they were allowed to do so.

    Let us know how this turns out? It should be interesting.
    Joe Strazzere
    Visit my website: AllThingsQuality.com to learn more about quality, testing, and QA!

  6. #6
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    Re: Starting QA from scratch - what would you do?

    Hi,

    excuse me, I'm a bit confused here...

    You have a QA manager in your company. though you (as a software engineer working for DEV) have to set up QA?

    I don't find this logical. What's the QA manager doing in your company then? Prolly waiting to get his resignation note as he doesn't seem to do much (well)... [img]/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]

    Interesting...
    Nobody's perfect.

  7. #7
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    Re: Starting QA from scratch - what would you do?

    It sounds like you are filling a BA and/or PM role to me. I have worked in places where they reported to Dev Mgrs and performed the tasks you're doing. I'm not following why any of your tasks have to done behind the back of the QA Manager (I guess I need to hear the long story..).

    It's definitely a lot of work to do considering the QA Mgr may turn around and say he won't conduct testing in that manner or certify the release (if he is ultimately responsible for QA as Joe states).

    Good luck to you.
    C~

    Avatar courtesy of the DOW Chemical Company: http://www.dow.com/Hu/

  8. #8
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    Re: Starting QA from scratch - what would you do?

    I've worked in many small companies doing exactly what you are talking about (as per my SIG) but I also am unclear as to why you in Development need to take on the QA hat when there is a Manager. You also mention that there is/was a QA person before, I am going to assume that the person is no longer there. To me this just sounds like you are either duplicating effort, or there is some political struggle going on if its the Dev manager behind you on this, but its ok to go around the QA manager; like Joe said this is the person tasked with QA but Dev is doing an end run. To me something is fishy and I guess I too would need the long story to completely understand why the situation is what it is.

    But to your points:

    If its Dev driven then XP would be a good process, but what you want, especially as an automation engineer, is Unit Tests and something running nightly or more often to make sure you are handed a trouble free build.

    Document what you can and when you can, its an ongoing process and be prepared to think that for a long time it will not be complete. Took me almost 2 years to get the right documentation in one place I worked.

    Environment is tricky, if you truly cannot get the Customer's environment in house then go as best as you can.

    Check with your Support team, if you have one, and see what they know of from Customers and how the Customers use the tools; you may even see if you can get them to help you test builds now and again. No one will understand the Customers better, and you could use the assist I am sure at this stage.

    Otherwise you seem to be on the right track, other than the concerns others have noted.

    - M
    - M

    Nothing learns better than experience.

    "So as I struggle with this issue I am confronted with the reality that noting is perfect."
    - Unknown

    Now wasting blog space at QAForums Blogs - The Lookout

 

 

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