Inside the Astound QA TeamFebruary 5, 2021
Whenever you look at a job vacancy, there is a regular list of responsibilities, requirements, and a few lines of what it will be like to work in this particular company. Undoubtedly, that’s what the vacancy description is for — to give the general understanding of the job. To receive more information on how your work will be organized, you’ll have to get to the interview stage of the hiring process.
This article, however, will provide you with an inside look at what Astound’s Quality Assurance team is like, and what roles and testing directions we have. Besides, you will learn about the experience of a QA specialist at Astound firsthand — from our team members. Read on!
- QA Team’s Work in a Nutshell
- QA Department’s Structure
- Manual Testing
- Test Automation
- Performance Testing
- Security Testing
- Accessibility Testing
- Key to QA Team’s Success
First off, here is the helicopter view of the team and their experience:
- 215 professionals (over 35% of them are ISTQB certified)
- Since 2014, have worked on 990+ projects
- Customer Satisfaction Rating (created by Salesforce) — average of 9,5 out of 10
- Types of testing practices: Functional, Accessibility, SEO, API, Integration, Test Automation, Performance and Security testing
- 10+ different platforms: Salesforce cloud-based solutions (including Marketing, Community, Service, Integration (Mulesoft), Services, Sales and other solutions), WebSphere, Netsuite, Mobify, Hybris, Magento, CoreMedia and others.
And here’s the review of the QA Department’s structure. Below, we’ll examine its main elements.
Let’s start with the Testing Management team. QA Functional Managers help the team members grow and develop. They are responsible for putting together a Project Team, which is usually done not only considering the skills, experience and personality of each team member, but also their preferences.
Our QA Trainer organizes external and internal training activities — workshops, meetups, bootcamps. The latest internal one was on analyzing requirements. Plus, the Trainer also prepares our colleagues for ISTQB certification.
A QA Lead sets up the processes within the QA Project Team, conducts communication with the PM, the client, and all the other leads on the project. Such expert manages the team, their motivation and also the QA part of the project — optimizes the processes and creates artifacts. The Lead is also there to support you in case you’re stuck with a particularly hard task.
QA Technical Practice Leads (TPLs) provide all kinds of technical support. They mentor other team members — those that aren’t actually Leads (Middle+ and Senior specialists), but only take a leading role on this particular project. TPLs themselves work as Leads on a project from time to time not to lose technical expertise.
Another part of TPLs’ work is their discussion with QA Leads on the experience, challenges and communication cases on projects. These usually result in the new best practices to be used on the next projects. TPLs also conduct training activities, they optimize the work of the department — suggest new approaches and templates.
QA Audit is performed by TPLs whenever there is a request from an FM or a project team. The main purpose is to analyze the QA work on a particular project and provide the list of must-have action items or things to improve that can be applied either on this project or in the future ones. There is a specific audit procedure with a list of questions, but it’s flexible, new questions can be added if necessary. It was thanks to the QA audits that the team was able to grow the customer satisfaction rating up to 9,5 out of 10.
QA as a Service implies that our QA Team doesn’t participate in the project from the start. Instead, they are hired to provide a QA service on a certain phase. An example of that would be User Acceptance Testing. It’s performed in the pre-production phase (acceptance of the project). Our team write the UAT procedure, approve it with the client and then provide the support. The client goes on to test the product from the business side.
As for our different testing directions, it’s better to hear about them from our QA team members. You’ll read their stories and learn what fascinates them about the specific testing practice they specialize in: Manual, Automation, Accessibility, Security and Performance testing.
Yuriy Logoyda joined Astound as a Junior specialist with minimum experience in 2011 and grew to the position of a manual QA Lead in just 5 years.
He states that while nowadays people are considering automation to be a necessary part of the QA process for all projects, the smart use of all testing types is the right choice.
“For small projects the use of automation is not reasonable, while manual testing can provide more benefits. Due to the constant change in technologies and top-selling sites dictating the rules of success, the life of the site redesign period is really short. Manual QA that is quickly adaptive to the new changes is the right choice to perform fast testing of new features.”
Yuriy also notes that the human factor of manual testing allows finding things that could be missed in the process of design planning.
“Manual QA Engineers can act as real customers — we can share our opinion, provide arguments — and that helps our clients to come up with the best solutions and improve their sales.”
Georgi Georgiev had been interested in automation ever since he joined the company as a Junior manual QA engineer. Having grown to a Middle position, he discussed his willingness to become a TA Engineer with the Manager, who supported him and assigned him a coach. Step by step, with the help of the coach, he studied the basics of Test Automation, and then became first a Junior, and later — a Middle TA engineer. Of course, his journey isn’t over and there is much more to learn and explore.
Georgi has shared why he enjoys working in Test Automation:
“What I love about automation is that programming and testing are intertwined — I am looking for the middle ground between what I want to do as a QA specialist and what’s best to do as a programmer. I enjoy using machine power to additionally help and support the QA Team during their already busy days.”
He also added that when used correctly, automated tests show their real power in terms of execution speed (including parallelism) and accuracy (a machine will always do what it’s instructed to, and it’ll never get tired or distracted).
“Without the performance testing, you never know the site’s performance level and what should be improved. Users expect webpages to load as quickly as possible. And if it doesn’t happen, they get frustrated and leave. Also, if a website isn’t ready for Black Friday, it may crash once the amount of users increases rapidly, and the client won’t get the expected sales.”
Oleksandra Zhmurko was among those who built the Performance testing processes from scratch. At Astound, she had first been a manual QA Engineer, then a Lead up until 2017, when she first became acquainted with performance testing, and for the next 2 years she combined leading teams and doing performance testing work. Now, Oleksandra is a Performance QA Lead.
It all started when her team stumbled upon a performance issue on a Magento project. That’s when Oleksandra first thought about diving into performance testing. Then later, she, and a couple of other team members got to work on a first performance QA project.
“Since that time our team has already worked on plenty of exciting projects — simultaneous load testing of 10 sites, a high load project with up to 80000 concurrent users, a project with Headless SFCC, and many others — more than 25 in total. Each project brings something new and gives opportunity to continue learning.”
And, no project can be a success without a strong team. For several years now, Andriy Vovk and Roman Rak have been developing the Performance Testing department together with Oleksandra. At this moment, it consists of 6 team members.
“The online retail market is booming, with worldwide eCommerce sales having reached almost $4 trillion by the end of 2020. And, this kind of success attracts unwanted attention in the face of cyber-criminals. Good reputation is valuable for the clients, so it’s important to assure the web shops’ safety for end users and the site owner. The main goal of Security Testing is to identify the threats in the system and measure its potential vulnerabilities, so the threats can be encountered and the system does not stop functioning.” — Vitaliy Taradayko, Senior Test Automation Engineer and Security Test Lead comments on the value of Security testing.
For Vitaliy, this journey began when the QA department announced the initiative to implement Security testing.
“At the time, there was a lack of information on Security testing, so I had to do most of the research myself. However, this challenge pulled me into the process even more, and I practised testing the company sites every day after work. Eventually, I’ve tested more than 25 sites.”
Vitaliy’s Functional Manager noticed his efforts, and together they thought of how they could develop Security testing into a separate service. It was decided to launch an internal BootCamp where Vitaliy would share his knowledge and experience to those interested. As a result, two BootCamps have already given us a number of skilled Security QA Engineers, who, together with Vitaliy, are now employed on one of the biggest and most interesting projects in the company.
This testing direction ensures that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. More specifically, these people can perceive, understand, navigate, interact with the Web, and contribute to it.
Yevhenii Poliakov, QA Lead and Scrum Master with 6+ years of experience in testing, has helped build the Accessibility testing practice at Astound from scratch.
“On my project, I introduced Accessibility analysis as a mandatory part of each requirement analysis session. Also, Accessibility testing is now a part of testing activities for each functionality.”
Yevhenii also created an onboarding program for QA engineers, prepared artifacts, tools, and conducted several training sessions.
“It is important because it’s a social responsibility to make content available for all users. Plus, non-compliance can mean reputation and financial damage as Accessibility is supported by law in a lot of countries. Around 2000 accessibility lawsuits are processed each year.”
A few more words about our QA team
Our Technical Practice Lead Olena Kovalova noted:
“In the QA department all new thoughts are welcome. You should always look at the templates or processes critically, not just blindly follow them, and if you think something could be improved somehow, everyone will be ready to hear out your idea.” That’s the secret ingredient to the Astound’s QA success.
Contribute your own ideas to our QA team, grow and develop together with us! We now have several job openings!