Quality Assurance: The Customer's Advocate in Product Companies

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the job also calls for immense domain knowledge, understanding of critical quality assurance concepts, specific product knowledge, innovative test case designs and review processes, debugging, contribution to specifications and design, bug analysis, etc. In essence, a quality assurance engineer combines the critical rationality and expertise of a quality assurance professional as well as the comprehensive knowledge and coding skills of a developer. Testing, contrary to popular perception, forms only a part of the job.

So, who is it out there who's cut out to handle such a critical and demanding function? To begin with, a potential quality assurance engineer’s got to be a 'wild and wide' kind of person with a technical bent of mind. Wild in the sense of being able to think radically out of the box. A supremely creative thinker–with an ability to put oneself in the shoes of potentially millions of end-users and think of the myriad needs they might have. Wide in the sense of being able to think expansively in terms of utility and application of the product. A technical bent of mind in the sense of rational, parallel and lateral thinking abilities.

It calls for someone with the analytical and logical mindset of an Aristotle, literally! An ability to whip, rip and strip the product to lay bare any flaws or shortcomings, and to ensure that it is as close to perfection as possible. Good communication skills are an asset. A quality assurance engineer has to be able to communicate his/her vision of the product/solution, the changes required, and the rationale/reasons for such changes.

Apart from the above personality traits, most recruiters look for only a fair level of technical knowledge to start with, since much of the learning and training is on the job. The training, in companies like Talisma, happens typically at three levels:

  • A basic training on reasoning and critical analysis
  • A period of Mentoring with senior professionals
  • Beyond the above is advanced training by domain experts

Trends
Today, quality assurance offers a lucrative career with immense job opportunities as well as well-defined career paths, apart from considerable career stability and sustainability. With time, a quality assurance engineer grows to own a complete 'Feature release' in the product. The engineer would be involved in people management, creation of scenario plans, risk management, and own multiple features. The acme is when one grows to handle complete product planning, undertaking team risks, end-to-end release management, and resource management.

In quality assurance management, quality is defined as the totality of characteristics of a product or service that bears on its ability to satisfy stated and implied needs. Quality assurance is not just about implementing a system or working towards some set standard or even plain testing. In its broadest sense, quality assurance is about achieving dynamic degrees of excellence, at every stage of product development.

In professional terms, the expertise, the domain and technical knowledge gained leads to considerable enhancement of employability security . In terms of personal growth, the nature of work and training is such that it sharpens one's thought process, enhancing rational and parallel thinking capabilities. Something with the potential to positively affect every aspect of one’s life.

Summary
Both in an individual's life and in that of an organization, quality plays a crucial role to make a difference and be noticed among the plethora of competitors. Good quality practice must be embraced at all levels and instilled strongly within an organization's culture. That is what quality assurance is all about.

Acknowledgements
A big "Thank you" to the people who helped in the construction of this article: Bennet Manual (QA

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