A recent news story reported on an allegation that Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies were conspiring to avoid hiring each other’s top talent. Apparently some companies may be willing to risk anti-trust lawsuits from the Department of Justice in an attempt to retain key employees. The need to retain your best people is as important in QA as with any other tech function, and can greatly impact the quality, effectiveness and speed of software quality assurance efforts.
At QASource, we have come to believe that 80% of software QA is the same. In other words, 80% of QA activity requires a knowledge of QA methodologies, QA tools, and the ability to intelligently test software. The remaining 20% varies with the product and the team. The QA engineers must know the product they are testing, the people whom they are working with, and the specific processes required to test that particular software program. Without that specific knowledge and experience, a QA team may miss important test processes or waste a lot of time.
Let’s assume that Jamie, a bright software tester, immediately plugs herself into your dev process, has previous experience with your Test Link, Jira, and Jenkins systems, and starts logging bugs. In fact, Jamie logs bugs faster than any of the other QA engineers who have been in the company for the previous 6 months. Your developers spend all week checking the bugs, only to discover that 99% of them were known issues already logged in the bugbase. Jamie may have understood “general” QA, but didn’t add what we refer to as valuable QA.
Valuable QA requires an in-depth knowledge of the product, the team, the history, and the processes. A QA engineer who is thoroughly familiar with and integrated with developers will log critical bugs while contributing to continuous integration to help developers save time. This engineer is a difficult engineer to replace. Any new QA engineer taking this person’s place, even a capable QA engineer, will need time to fully integrate with the dev team, learn the team’s goals, understand the product’s current state, and absorb the history of the QA testing process up to that point.
QA engineers who continually integrate and collaborate with the product and development teams tend to:
- Earn developer’s trust
- Find more relevant bugs
- Understand how the teams communicate
- Introduce efficiencies in the process
- Identify test automation opportunities
- Achieve development goals more efficiently
- Establish a reliable testing infrastructure
- Enable faster releases
This is why high employee retention makes good QA great and great QA better. It is no wonder that large tech companies have allegedly conspired to not hire each other’s engineers. The turnover rate in Silicon Valley is estimated at 15%; the average turnover rate in India is 25%. These alarmingly high rates of attrition affect how well an engineer can learn the product, earn trust, gain efficiencies, and deliver the most valuable QA possible. There is a positive relationship between high employee retention and the quality, effectiveness and speed of software quality assurance efforts.
This is also why we work so hard at retaining our QA engineers, and why our turnover rate is half the rate in Silicon Valley.