A day in the life of a QA lead looks different from one company to another and even within different teams at the same company, but there are some similarities that apply across the board. In general, the goal of any QA lead is to make sure that the software being produced by their team meets its requirements and satisfies both internal and external customers. A lead quality assurance engineer needs to identify potential problems with the software, verify that those problems have been resolved, and provide actionable feedback to the development team to ensure that every defect has been taken care of and that all requirements have been met satisfactorily.
I worked as a QA lead for a few years before becoming QA manager. Many people wonder, what does it take to be one? What does the work day look like after you get promoted to a lead position? In this article, I am sharing my own experiences so you can take a peek into a managerial role in tech, and possibly prepare to hold one yourself.
Every morning, I start by checking my calendar for meetings and upcoming deadlines. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I’m scheduled for check-ins with engineers and other managers; Mondays through Wednesdays are filled with standups and individual catch-ups with everyone on my team. In between all that, I try to keep up with emails from previous days that weren’t urgent. This usually takes anywhere from an hour to two hours, depending on how busy things are.
Daily standup meeting
Next, upon arriving at the office, I would head straight to a daily standup. Remember that in Scrum there’s a daily standup meeting where everyone checks in with the team members and gets updates from them. It helps ensure we stay on top of each other’s progress and gives us an opportunity to go over any roadblocks that have come up. We might also use it as an opportunity to give feedback to one another or discuss our goals for that day. As a lead, I have to make sure everyone is on track for their deadlines and that any concerns or delays have been addressed.
Coordination with project manager and team members
The QA lead works with team members to determine what tasks they’ll work on each day. They also send out daily updates and can coordinate directly with project managers if there are any issues that need to be addressed urgently. They’re also responsible for:
- Ensuring tests are up-to-date: The lead software quality assurance engineer manager ensures all tests are current before testing begins, so developers can use them as benchmarks when writing new features or improvements.
- Running manual tests: In some organizations, software quality assurance leads may run all manual tests themselves, too.
As a lead software quality assurance engineer manager, my job involves finding bugs in code. I have to make sure that nothing is overcomplicated or incomplete—that all customers can use our products with ease and efficiency. I also monitor projects closely to make sure deadlines are being met, resources are available, and no one is overworked. When something isn’t working, I meet with engineers and leaders to develop workarounds or scheduled downtime. Sometimes, I even need to write new software. It’s not always easy,but it makes me proud when everything works out as planned.
In software quality assurance, one of your primary tasks is to understand how people who aren’t subject matter experts use and navigate your software. In order to do that, you’ll be having conversations with users to ask them questions about their experiences. These conversations are known as feedback sessions. They provide you with valuable insights into how users interact with your product and can help you identify bugs, inconsistencies, and other areas for improvement before they become actual issues for customers. As a lead, I need to be on top of the user concerns and address them fast with the stakeholders.
Cross-team coordination with developers, product managers, and other stakeholders
A QA lead’s job is to make sure software releases go smoothly. This requires close coordination with development teams, product managers, and other stakeholders involved with software products. A QA lead should be ready to stand up at team meetings and provide status updates on quality assurance and testing procedures. Being a good communicator is an invaluable trait for a successful QA lead. Confrontation and public speaking can be scary for some people, but both are crucial for open lines of communication between teams across an organization.
Before we can start testing, all information such as requirements, acceptance criteria, and test plans has to be present and correct. This is what I do: I check if everything is there, I check if it’s updated, and then I approve it if nothing is wrong. This can take some time, but it makes me feel confident that at least I didn’t miss anything important.
Testing feedback session and preparing for the next day's planning
As you get ready for your weekly testing feedback session, make sure you have your homework ready. Do any prep work for next week's tests to ensure you're not going into tomorrow's meeting blind. Have your tasks clearly listed so you know what needs to be done to support each test. Receive a call from upper management about concerns on software quality. When things are running smoothly, it’s easy to forget that software quality assurance exists and is an essential part of any software organization's success.
Follow up on feedback from testers from previous days to improve product quality
The QA lead has weekly (or daily) meetings with the lead software quality assurance engineer manager to discuss how testing is going and to get feedback. I will check previous bugs and get more information on them to plan tests for new products. It’s important that I schedule my time so that I can follow up on important issues such as previous bugs, ongoing bugs, and reported new bugs so we can improve product quality.
Wrap up your day
At the end of your workday, you’ll want to wrap up all your tasks. To make sure you cover everything, close out your email inboxes. Make sure you schedule time each week to check through calendar items, reply to emails, and submit reports. If there is something that can’t wait until Monday morning, remember that it’s better to send an incomplete report or message than to not do it at all!
Oh, and of course, in between all of that I get lots of coffee and have a good lunch. It’s important to have a good work-rest balance to keep your productivity up!
I hope you now have a good understanding of what a day in the life of a QA lead looks like. If you enjoyed reading about my job as a QA lead, please share it with others!