Improving Software Testing Communication – Top Tips
Improving software testing communication is a common objective. Most issues that hamper right-sourcing efforts revolve around communication and difficulty developing communication channels effectively. Communication is a challenge within a localised team alone, add in a testing team from another locale or country, and you add to the problem. However, communication issues are not insurmountable and don’t need to be a constant challenge. How do you keep communication channels open and flowing between QA team members including outsourced testing teams?
Communication & Common Understanding
A successful right-sourcing project requires project and communication planning. We always advise to plan ahead of the change, before the contract is signed.
Your first step is telling any in-house QA testers why you are expanding the testing team through right-sourcing. You must establish which team is doing what work, and create opportunities for advancement for the entire team. For example, hire an internal tester as the right-sourcing team lead, liaison, or project manager. Open up as many opportunities as makes sense. You are creating a growth path, which is difficult in QA teams because career movement stagnates quickly. You should involve the QA team in the final planning and preparation, so that everyone is on the same page and understands the challenges, expectations, and positive implications.
As part of the final planning and preparation, you must establish common testing terms and also communication expectations.
Establishing common understanding by defining testing terms
To build strong communication between team members you must define a commonly understood set of QA testing terms. It sounds basic, and it is. It is also often ignored, until later in the project when team members are confused, work is chaotic, and morale goes downhill. Reduce communication problems from the outset, by documenting and practicing against a defined set of testing terms.
What are QA testing terms?
Start by defining the basics: Test plan, test case, and test strategy. They can mean the same thing, or entirely different things depending on the QA test team. It does not matter which definition you use; it matters that all the QA team members have a shared understanding of what each means. For example, a test plan and test strategy are typically overall documents encompassing all development projects being tested by the QA team during a release. Test plans tend to be longer, and test strategies are more succinct for agile development teams. Automated or manual test scripts are the test cases.
Who Does What?
You must also define what a defect is, and what documentation is required when entering a defect. Create documentation with realistic and plentiful examples. Next, define what types of testing each team performs. What does regression testing mean, what test cases (or test scripts) are regression? How about exploratory, ad hoc, feature, and functional testing? What testing, if any, do you use automation for? Basically, you must document the QA team’s definitions within the QA process used. Keep it consistent, so the process is not always in flux, and you will improve QA testing team communication internally and with right-sourced team members.
Open communication – keeping teams in sync
Be honest and maintain constant attention on team communication to keep it positive and productive. Encourage the teams to communicate and to stay synchronised. Avoid misunderstandings and then defects will not slip through. The QA lead or liaison for the right-sourcing team must be a believer in humanity, positive on diversity, and have a strong capacity for mediating and coaching.
Improving software testing communication is vital in the pursuit of success. Chances are you already have several capable QA team members who excel in coaching, training, and various testing techniques. You need a leader capable of communicating clearly and making fair and challenging QA assignments that enable both teams to grow and work together. Build a strong QA testing team with members who either work together or a million miles apart. Nowadays, the latter is fast-becoming the norm so embrace it. The secret is treating team members with respect and fairness regardless of where they are located.
Here at eTestware, we recognise QA testing as a worldwide occupation. Success is achieved through defining QA testing terms, the implementation of a documented QA process, and clear communication. Keep the teams in synchronisation, and provide growth opportunities for all team members and your QA test project will be successful and grow over time. Contact us to learn more, and take your first steps along theICEway…