Why a QA specialist is more than a notorious nagger
"He's always the one who complains about everything, I think he should be a product tester, or go into quality assurance," I thought recently, when a friend had once again left out talking non-stop about his new smartphone. However, my colleague Ioana Precup comprehensively explained, during an interview, that quality assurance means more than just consistent complaining. Ioana has been working at IMC for two years as a Software Quality Assurance Professional. I talked to her about why a positive attitude is immensely important for her, and whether there are any stupid questions within quality assurance or not.
- Name: Ioana Precup
- Job: Software Quality Assurance Professional
- Works in: Sibiu, Romania
- At IMC since: 2017
- Superpower: Analytical thinking
- Favourite food: Chocolate cake
Hi Ioana, thanks for your time. Did you know what a role within Quality Assurance (QA) would involve when you applied for the job?
Actually, not that much. I had an idea what Software QA might imply, but I did not really comprehend the extensiveness of the job. However, when I saw this position advertised, I asked several people in a similar position what their role involves. My brother is a software developer, so he gave me a detailed description of his role as a Software QA. It was different to what I expected - more complex.
So how would you explain what you do?
What I do is a combination of different things, and not as technical as you would expect it to be - at least not so far in my role. Basically, I'm responsible for testing our flagship product, the IMC Learning Suite - Learning Management System. I help to ensure the quality of the product and identify any problems before the end client receives their version of it. I will also check if the User Experience (UX) has been designed as expected. Additionally, I test the platform from both the learner's point of view, and the administrator's perspective. For example, I will verify the creation of the learning processes starting from the simplest scenarios to the more complex ones, and the experience of the learner when it comes to their learning progress.
Can you summarise your work in one sentence?
QAs make sure that the User Experience is the one desired, by identifying problems early in the software development process.
At what point does your work start?
QAs join a project when the requirements and specifications are written, by going through the documentation, providing feedback and developing the acceptance criteria. After the implementation has been completed, the testing phase / QA phase is done according to the requirements and acceptance criteria. Software QA is an ongoing process, throughout the entire Software Development Cycle. Therefore, it is very important to communicate with the team members, because everyone who is involved in the development process has their own contribution.
What would you compare your work to?
Metaphorically speaking I would say each implementation is like an iceberg. What you see in the end is only the smallest part of the product development lifecycle. You have to really dive in, to see the entire iceberg, and that's part of my job as well. It is interesting to see and be 'behind the scenes' to understand the processes, and how a feature is implemented. There is so much effort involved, and this was a totally new experience for me to be part of. Before I joined IMC, I was like everyone else - just an end user of different programmes or learning platforms, and I wasn't aware of the development lifecycle or constant maintenance that these products require behind the scenes.
Complete the sentence: When I started working at IMC, I felt...
Nervous, because this was a shift in my career. I learnt what my job would involve, but I wasn't sure if it would fit me. Nevertheless, it has been a positive experience which excites me every day, because the work is very dynamic.
On a typical working day, I do...
A lot of things! Starting from discussions with the developers and developing testing scenarios. There are twelve of us in the QA team, and each member is assigned to a development or scrum team. I am assigned as QA for the technical consulting team, so I test the implementations which refer mainly to customisations of our standard LMS for specific customers. Currently, I'm the only member of the team, located in Sibiu. My colleagues are either in Saarbrücken or Melbourne. We are a really diverse team but work extremely well together - constant communication helps a lot.
Which characteristics are particularly important for your job?
Attention to detail, adaptability, analytical thinking, being able to put yourself in the client's shoes, and of course - being a team player.
What do you like most about your job?
The fact that I never get bored; I don't like repetitive stuff. There are always new implementations, new requirements - so you never test the exact same thing - the content changes. And what I also love is that my colleges are open to all kinds of questions and never judge. At the beginning I felt like I was asking very stupid questions, because I don't have a technical background. I guess there were questions on a level like "is the earth flat or not?". But the team never criticised my 'stupid questions', and instead took the time to explain the whole process to me.
Complete: When dealing with colleagues, it is especially important to me...
To be open-minded. We all think differently and have different opinions, but sometimes you just have to accept it, be honest, and also accept that other opinions might be the better option.
Which professional background should a person have for your job?
You can learn to be a QA professional. It's preferable to have a technical background, but I don't have one either. I studied Statistics applied in Economics and only learned some basic IT things during my studies, but not much. To be honest, everyone can be a QA expert, because everyone can be an end user. We have colleagues with different professional backgrounds, and they are great Software QAs.
What is the best way for you to relax after a stressful day at work?
By watching a movie! I love all genres as well as sitcoms. My mood dictates what to watch.
What's your favourite movie?
I love Charlie Chaplin movies - I have seen them all. Other favourites include newer releases like "The Brothers Bloom" of "Four rooms".
Are you more sympathetic or un sympathetic to people who are like you?
Sympathetic! Everyone deserves the chance to be accepted.
E-Books, yes or no?
I'm open to E-books, I like that you can take so many with you when you travel. I couldn't completely give up traditional books, but eBooks are very practical.
Thank you so much for the lovely interview, Ioana, and hoping to meet you in person, soon!
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