Each career path is unique and for quality assurance engineers, this is no different. When people think of those who work in IT, they probably imagine them sitting in front of their computers all day long doing the same repetitive tasks over and over. This, however, is simply not the case. Each day in the life of a QA engineer is different and being in QA means you never stop learning.
QA is short for Quality Assurance and there are various job title names related to QA like Software Testing Engineer or Software Quality Assurance Engineer. Then there are Test Automation Engineer, Exploratory Tester, QA Evangelist, QA Analysts, etc. Personally, I would prefer if it stood for Quality Assistance because, as QA engineers, we are there to help the dev team and are an integral part of it. Thus, in this blog, I will talk about what exactly it is like to be a QA Engineer from my personal experience.
So, what does a QA working day here in Nebb actually look like?
Well, every day starts with coffee with colleagues, of course. Over steaming cups of coffee, we talk about everyday things and tasks, have a laugh or two and like so kick start the day. After that, the working mode is officially on. As someone who works in QA, I play a challenging yet specialized role in the software development cycle. From start to finish, our team provide a distinct purpose in product delivery and product quality. In a nutshell, the day consists of three things - scrum meetings, teamwork, and testing.
But let me get more into detail with that.
The first thing on my list is Daily Scrum. Since we are following the Scrum methodology, this is one of the events that happen every day on a regular basis. The meeting takes about 15 minutes, and every team member informs the team about three things: “What I did yesterday”, “Did I have some impediments”, and “What am I going to do today”. This way, we all get to know which tasks everybody from the team is working on and where does that indeed fit within the working process. What follows is hands-on testing. I get info about the development status of the features and feedback about what is ready for testing. One thing that I find is a great advantage to be a QA here in Nebb is that I have insights into which task is pushed for which environment and have access to dev environment at the same time. I find this important because sometimes when we do testing on dev environment together with a developer for a feature that is a little bit more complicated than usual, this can save us a lot of time and contribute to a faster development.
Now let’s move on to the “hands-on testing” part. Firstly, I run through all tasks that have been delivered in the test environment and start with the major or most complicated one. Then, I move on with reading the specifications, preparing test cases or updating if there are existing ones, doing the routine testing on how it is supposed to work. I try to finish with one task and then go to the next. This is, however, an ideal case scenario. Being a QA brings on the multitasking ability in you. If everything goes as planned, it is then time for exploratory testing! I must say, that is my favourite part of the testing. You are performing the testing by relying on your creativity. You can do whatever comes to your mind! With this testing technique, most undiscovered bugs can be found, proving useful later on. If there are bugs found, I register them with a detailed explanation, repro steps, screenshots of the actual results, etc.
Communicating with the developers during my process always helps. There is always something to discuss, whether it is an issue, a specification, an improvement, or just a simple question. I am also on board for customer support dealing with bugs or questions from the customer’s side, and if a support ticket arrives, it beats other tasks and quickly becomes the priority of the day. Investigating, finding solutions, reporting it - if it is a bug - and of course, if it is not in my zone of expertise, the dev team is always here to help.
Let’s not forget to mention that automation testing as a software testing technique is also performed to run tests on the software the dev team is developing. But I will not deep-dive into this subject now and leave it for some future blog post.
To conclude, QA involves much more than a just long list of testing activities. It is primarily a mindset that should be embraced by you and your entire team because quality is a whole team approach, each owning the responsibility of what they produce and confirm the reliability of a product. You need to be an insightful, resourceful, and persistent problem solver who works diligently to deliver products that meet and sometimes exceed client expectations. And don’t be surprised when your role expands beyond and into additional responsibilities. It’s just part of what it means to be a QA engineer today.