While skimming job descriptions for any QA engineer role, you would have often come across ‘excellent communication skills’ listed as a requirement.
Have you ever wondered why this skill is so important?
Here’s the deal: effective communication not only assists you with the everyday dealings of your job, but can be a pivotal point in your QA career.
Importance of Communication in QA Testing
Communication is inevitable and you can’t really avoid it. Working in a QA team requires a lot of back-and-forth communication. You have to convey information across departments, talk to clients, sit down with designers, portray clear expectations across teams, and so on. Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings, needless issues, and communication gaps—all of which can easily been avoided if you keep reading on.
Communicating as a QA Manager
If you want to evolve from a QA tester to a QA lead or QA manager, effective communication is of utmost importance.
QA managers are responsible for communicating with each member of their team on a daily basis, to stay updated with the testing progress. Fostering a productive work environment comes with exercising factors like cooperation and respect, and providing your team members with clear and actionable feedback. Clarity on instructions will inhibit uncertainties, thus cultivating a positive work culture.
In QA testing, defining short and achievable goals is crucial. You have to follow a step-by-step process to fulfill the test objectives. This, hence, necessitates the need for strong communication. Some key communication methods that managers should keep in mind are: setting clear goals for their team, providing regular and constructive feedback, and forming cross-training teams.
QA managers should also work on building empathy among teams. Pairing testers and developers, so that they understand each other’s roles and responsibilities, can be a helpful way to achieve this.
Now that the importance of communication in QA has been discussed, let’s look at how it can be implemented.
Tip #1: Develop your listening skills
Communication goes both ways. It is as essential to listen as it is to speak.
Here are a few ways by which you, as a QA tester, can work on your communication skills during a requirements meeting:
- Take notes and ask questions.
- Seek clarification to avoid any confusion. For instance, you may say, “So what you’re saying is…” or “Please check whether I understand this right”.
- Maintain eye contact with the person who is speaking, to build a connection with him/her.
- Keep your attention intact; don’t get distracted while another person is talking.
- Make positive/encouraging gestures (e.g. nodding and smiling) while listening.
- Provide constructive criticism to the speaker, based on their input.
Tip #2: Improve your presentation skills
Having strong leadership and presentation skills can help you advance into a QA lead job. Following are a few ways that will help you get a step closer to this goal:
- Make sure you have all of your presentation materials ready ahead of time.
- Always keep an agenda on hand. Direct the meeting in such a manner that it stays on course and you achieve your goal at the conclusion.
- Encourage your audience to participate in interactive activities. Ask them their thoughts on the topics under discussion.
- Learn to read the responses and behavior of your audience.
- Maintain control of your own emotions and actions.
- Try to use a mix of both formal and informal language, in both written and verbal communication.
Tip #3: Become a self-assured public speaker
There are many public speaking opportunities for a tester to participate in. These can range from defect triage meetings and review sessions, to larger-scale events. To become a self-assured speaker, the following tips can help you:
- Don’t hesitate to speak up.
- Have faith in your ideas and contributions.
- Think about what you’re going to say before you saying it out loud.
- Make eye contact with others around you. This improves the likelihood of obtaining a positive response.
- Don’t rush while speaking; go at your own pace.
- Speak clearly and loudly. If you’re confused about how to pronounce a particular word, you can replace it with a similar term.
Tip #4: Improve the quality of your phone conversations
For IT teams, telephonic interviews are very common. Since the person at the end of your call is not able to see your facial expressions (in the case of a phone call), it becomes all the more important to verbally express yourself in a coherent way. Here are some ways you can achieve this aim:
- Introduce yourself, even if the other person is expecting your call.
- At the start of the call, explain the purpose of the call.
- Be clear and succinct with your words.
- Be prepared in what you want to say—long pauses should be avoided.
- Don’t interrupt the other person when they are speaking.
Let’s explore some of the benefits you will get, upon implementation of the above tips.
Benefits of Effective Communication During the QA Process
Speed up your testing process
Better communication leads to more efficient testing. For example, if your team receives the relevant information in a timely manner, they can begin testing sooner, which will save time. Similarly, when faults are discovered, your QA team can collaborate with the development team through QA testing tools, and clearly communicate the issues and address confusions—this will minimize chances of friction between the teams, thus speeding up the software testing process.
With enhanced communication, your team members and stakeholders will have better-shared knowledge of the challenges and barriers associated with the testing project. This will reduce chances of potential risks, that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
If instructions are communicated clearly to team members, they wouldn’t have to waste time fretting about issues they would have otherwise been unclear about. Having complete knowledge about what they are required to do will boost their morale and motivate them to work constructively, thus raising productivity levels.
Communicating with clients
To strengthen communication between a client and the QA team lead, it’s crucial for the QA lead to delivers regular and accurate project updates. These updates can be scheduled on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis, depending on the needs of the client. The QA lead should offer an executive overview to clients during these reviews, while also keeping them updated on any issues. The client should also be provided with a copy of the test plan, so that they are cognizant about the timelines, process, and relevant information.
Bonus Tip: Use a tool that helps you communicate better
A QA testing tool such as Kualitee automatically shares progress through auto-scheduled reports. As a QA tester, you can assign defects, and defect snapshots, to your relevant team members. The progress and status of the defect(s) and the tester will be automatically reported—this will save a lot of back-and-forth calls, and lessen chances of miscommunication. Furthermore, the team lead can receive progress automatically through different types of reports, and would not have to manually reach out to every tester.