Image of a Quality Assurance Engineer integrated with the rest of their software team

When you think of the makeup of a product team, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the three Ds: developers, delivery leads, designers? What about Quality Assurance (QA) Engineers — does your product team even have those at all, or are your QAs a tactical team that you send into action only when it’s time to get ready for production? There’s a better way to ship great products, and it starts with integrating quality assurance all along the way to understand the big picture for client needs, help with development strategy, and effectively manage business risk.

The thought that Quality Assurance (QA) Engineers are simply on product teams to test software and find bugs is misleading, minimizing their true value on an integrated team. So, what is the benefit of having QA Engineers on product teams and what kind of problems do they most frequently solve?

Although it might not be obvious at first glance, the integral role of QA Engineers is their function as triple advocates—for the product, for the end users, and for the client. Beyond finding bugs, QA Engineers improve the quality of the product by leaning into their role as advocates.

Dan and I sat down with QA Engineers Katrina Ohlemacher and Jonathan Guest on Labs Live to talk about what it means to have integrated product teams, what the delivery process looks like, and the merits of having integrated QA Engineer team members. The conversation highlighted the role of QA engineers as client advocates and the necessary steps towards mitigating business risk.

 

Screenshot of Labs Live Episode 21 featured Quality Assurance Engineers Katrina and Jon

 

Step 1: QA understands the client’s needs holistically

As part of an integrated team, QA Engineers receive, review, and digest the business requirements at the same time as the rest of the team. The first step to any product development is getting an understanding of the client’s needs, the pain points the client is trying to alleviate (i.e the “why” behind the features), and the business requirements. 

In these early stages of a product, an integrated QA Engineer’s closeness with the client and the development team helps them to ensure the chosen technologies are stable, testable, and able to integrate with each other.

Step 2: QA recognizes and raises awareness of business risk

QA Engineers are able to pull from their knowledge of the product and their understanding of the client’s pain points to identify potential areas of business risk that might surface. Business risk could be related to accessibility, legalities, brand impact, or timing, etc. QA’s value-add as the voice and advocate of the end user also helps them to quickly identify business risks that relate to the user experience that the client might have been unaware of. 

Step 3: QA strategizes and recommends the optimum path forward

The client-advocacy circle of the QA doesn’t just end at raising business risk awareness but continues into assisting with crafting a plan for mitigation and offering recommendations based on their experience with the product, client, and delivery process. These recommendations could include changes to the release plan cadence to optimize feature delivery and further reduce risk, improvements to the user experience, and more. 

This is where the benefit of having QA Engineers on integrated teams truly shines. They are able to empathize with the client, understand the pain point, and recommend the best path forward to a quality product and delivery with minimal risk.

Incorporating QA team members as part of integrated product teams is more than trendy agile product jargon — it’s a concept that offers tested benefits. QA Engineers effectively manage business risk through their client advocacy. They seamlessly balance the art of recognizing and mitigating business risk and the science of launching quality products. 

If you’d like to learn more about the roles and benefits of QA Engineers on integrated teams, check out the full episode of Labs Live.

 

ABOUT LABS LIVE

Labs Live is a stream hosted by Detroit Labs’ very own Dan Ward and Tobi Adebisi, where they bring on guests from the Labs team and our clients to talk about the latest in technology, software design and development, and whatever else comes to mind. Labs Live is streamed live each month on YouTube and LinkedIn. Subscribe and follow to receive notifications for upcoming episodes.

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