For any QA testing team, be it outsourced, internal or a combination of both, communicating work expectations is a critical part of a team’s success. It starts by having detailed knowledge of the company's QA processes, then moves into QA team’s job functions and roles and then into specific tasks of individual team members
Understanding job expectations and what’s expected of one individually, and as a team creates ownership and a sense of accountability. Additionally, team members are more comfortable at their jobs when they understand fully what’s expected of them.
For example, when Alice knows that her team is responsible for project A and that her role in the team is to care of X, Y and Z, it’s easy for her to simply start working on her part and not worry or ask around from other people in the team as well as other teams what they're working on to avoid duplicate work. She can simply start doing her part.
When everyone knows their role, team members (and other teams) are not duplicating efforts doing the same task on the same project. There’s no lost time for team members figuring out their work assignments.
Also, consider how much time team members take to determine testing scope and depth. With clearly defined QA processes and roles, time is spent on actual work and not looking busy or trying to find new projects and tasks to work on. This raises the performance of the whole department.
Having clearly defined processes and roles becomes even more important when dealing with outsourced contract teams as they are expected to become productive and efficient quickly. Yet, without proper guidance and boundaries it becomes an almost impossible task.
Your first task is to set expectations and make it so that everyone in the team(s) know what’s their role. You do that by first providing structure (which team is responsible for which project and how new incoming projects are divided between them) and clarifying roles within teams. Essentially it’s like a detailed organization map for the QA department.
Once you’ve come up with a proper structure, it’s important to communicate that new information to everyone. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and moving in one common direction. The actual communication can be done via meetings, trainings (team and one-to-one) as well as shared documentation.
Additionally, many software development tools like JIRA, Microsoft TFS or Quality Center, to name a few, can be used to communicate QA testing job expectations in visual and documented formats. For best results, it’s more than likely that you’ll end up using a combination of the above.
The exact way of communicating is less important here, what’s more important is being consistent and clear. Each and every person has to understand their role and that of their team. There’s no room for ambiguity. You may need to interview resources to verify the understanding they each have to ensure messages received on their role and work expectations are the same.
Make sure documentation is accessible to all team members at all times. That way there’s no reason information can’t be read and understood. Review changes to documented processes and ensure the full QA department is up to date.
Even after doing all of the above, it’s still important to follow-up with QA team leads and individual team members from time to time to make sure that the (new) system is working as expected.
It’s important to understand if processes aren’t productive or if there are gaps in understanding of team and work expectations. Processes grow and change with the team, it’s your job to manage that change and update processes when needed.
Teams are most effective with engaged QA leadership that understands current work processes and expectations. One can’t effectively drive a successful team long term without communicating expectations clearly and keeping up with processes alive and continuously improving.