Onboarding QA: Getting Up to Speed on New Projects

QA engineers often must jump in to already running projects and start testing and adding value as soon as possible. When this occurs, we must gain knowledge of the system architecture, business logic, project process, QA process, legacy issues, future planned implementation, and many other aspects or the project. Learning all of this together at the same time can be very stressful and difficult to handle—that is to say, it is easy for us to became overwhelmed.

There are several things you should think about doing to smooth the transition, which I’ve listed below. Of course, there isn’t a magic solution to get up to speed quickly. This process can take weeks, months, or even years depending on the size of the project. It is important to understand this fact, both for the new QA and the rest of the team, including leaders and managers.

The Ideal Scenario

In this scenario, the client or company leadership knows about how hard this will be, and even if there are urgent deadlines to meet, it won’t add pressure to the new member. If this is the case the onboarding process should have the following:

  • Documentation – This does not mean that the project has to have 100 pages in the wiki explaining everything in detail. What is really needed are some general guidelines and information that will be used throughout the project. For example, having URLs to all the different environments, user names and passwords, general flows of the main functionalities, and updated design mockups. Short videos can be useful too, but I don’t recommend recorded meetings with clients or stakeholders. There is too much that happens in those meetings that is often out-of-date by the time you rewatch them later.
  • Test Suites – These are basic test cases collections for us to guide the testing. A well-made checklist is useful too.  
  • Regular knowledge transfer sessions – Schedule these regular meetings with the project owners, other QA team members, or developers if necessary. These sessions should not take more than 30-45 minutes at a time. Too much information at one time is difficult to process and store correctly in our brains.
  • Start with testing tasks of the same “type” – Don’t assign manual testing, API testing, automated testing, and regression testing tasks all at the beginning. Is better to start focused on one type of testing, like testing manually (exploratory tests if possible) to get familiar with the system. You can add more task types in a progressive manner when appropriate.
  • Start focused on one area – It is good for both QA engineers and the team that we quickly gain good knowledge and confidence regarding one area/module/function. This way the team will feel more comfortable regarding the quality of the given area and we will start to add real value quickly. Once they are familiar with the process, it can be applied to other areas of the application as well.

The Non-Ideal Scenario

In this scenario, you may have been added to a project because there are deadlines (urgency), but the project did not include QAs in the past. The project may lack definition, documentation, processes, and may be of low quality. In this scenario, you will need do so some things in addition to the items listed in the section above:

  • You will also have to manage the knowledge transfer meetings, negotiate the tasks you will be able to work on, and ask for the tools and information you need (once you have figured that out).
  • You must always explain your status and blockers in the daily meetings or in one-to-one meetings with your leadership, and work togetherto solve all the issues.
  • Finally, once you feel confident and things with the project are “stable”, you can start creating documentation, test cases, and checklists for future team members.

Summing Up

In both scenarios it is very important to always be very proactive. It is no excuse not to have some of the documents or processes described above. If you need something, ask for it. If you don’t know about the process or business rules, ask for those too. If you there is no process, create it. If there is no known solution for your blocker, try to come up with the solution.

To achieve all this your soft skills will be the key, not just you technical QA skills.  Remember, a high percentage of the success of the onboarding is up to you, so give it your best.

Related Blog Posts

We hope you’ve found this to be helpful and are walking away with some new, useful insights. If you want to learn more, here are a couple of related articles that others also usually find to be interesting:

Our Gear Is Packed and We're Excited to Explore with You

Ready to come with us? 

Together, we can map your company’s tech journey and start down the trails. If you’re set to take the first step, simply fill out the form below. We’ll be in touch – and you’ll have a partner who cares about you and your company. 

We can’t wait to hear from you! 

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Together, we can map your company’s tech journey and start down the trails. If you’re set to take the first step, simply fill out the form below. We’ll be in touch – and you’ll have a partner who cares about you and your company. 

We can’t wait to hear from you! 

Montage Portal

Montage Furniture Services provides furniture protection plans and claims processing services to a wide selection of furniture retailers and consumers.

Project Background

Montage was looking to build a new web portal for both Retailers and Consumers, which would integrate with Dynamics CRM and other legacy systems. The portal needed to be multi tenant and support branding and configuration for different Retailers. Trailhead architected the new Montage Platform, including the Portal and all of it’s back end integrations, did the UI/UX and then delivered the new system, along with enhancements to DevOps and processes.

Logistics

We’ve logged countless miles exploring the tech world. In doing so, we gained the experience that enables us to deliver your unique software and systems architecture needs. Our team of seasoned tech vets can provide you with:

Custom App and Software Development

We collaborate with you throughout the entire process because your customized tech should fit your needs, not just those of other clients.

Cloud and Mobile Applications

The modern world demands versatile technology, and this is exactly what your mobile and cloud-based apps will give you.

User Experience and Interface (UX/UI) Design

We want your end users to have optimal experiences with tech that is highly intuitive and responsive.

DevOps

This combination of Agile software development and IT operations provides you with high-quality software at reduced cost, time, and risk.

Trailhead stepped into a challenging project – building our new web architecture and redeveloping our portals at the same time the business was migrating from a legacy system to our new CRM solution. They were able to not only significantly improve our web development architecture but our development and deployment processes as well as the functionality and performance of our portals. The feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. Trailhead has proven themselves to be a valuable partner.

– BOB DOERKSEN, Vice President of Technology Services
at Montage Furniture Services

Technologies Used

When you hit the trails, it is essential to bring appropriate gear. The same holds true for your digital technology needs. That’s why Trailhead builds custom solutions on trusted platforms like .NET, Angular, React, and Xamarin.

Expertise

We partner with businesses who need intuitive custom software, responsive mobile applications, and advanced cloud technologies. And our extensive experience in the tech field allows us to help you map out the right path for all your digital technology needs.

  • Project Management
  • Architecture
  • Web App Development
  • Cloud Development
  • DevOps
  • Process Improvements
  • Legacy System Integration
  • UI Design
  • Manual QA
  • Back end/API/Database development

We partner with businesses who need intuitive custom software, responsive mobile applications, and advanced cloud technologies. And our extensive experience in the tech field allows us to help you map out the right path for all your digital technology needs.

Our Gear Is Packed and We're Excited to Explore with You

Ready to come with us? 

Together, we can map your company’s tech journey and start down the trails. If you’re set to take the first step, simply fill out the contact form. We’ll be in touch – and you’ll have a partner who cares about you and your company. 

We can’t wait to hear from you! 

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Thank you message.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.