I often have conversations within the QA community and one question seems to surface pretty often: “How do you build a strong testing organization?” The answer seems pretty straight forward to me.
1. Hire someone who can focus on building the organization. It starts with the leader of the organization. If a company wants to have a strong testing organization, then they need to hire someone who has started in testing and worked their way up. I find it is often best to bring someone from the outside of the company who has had experiences in testing in both small and large organizations with a mix of different domains. It helps to have a wide background because this person can figure out what works well and what will not work at all. It is important that the leader have vision and can create a QA roadmap. Also, this person needs to be 100% dedicated to QA and QA only. You can’t expect them to manage QA and other parts of the IT organization. I have see countless examples of someone who has tried to do both, and unfortunately, QA is the one that will suffer the most.
2. Look for the right leader. It is extremely critical to take as long as needed to find the right person for the job. You want someone who will blend well within your company culture. You also need someone who has had a proven track record and can demonstrate the capability to turn your QA organization into one that will help shape and influence quality for years to come. If that means that you wait for 2-3 months to find that person, it will be worth it in the long run.
3. Give the leader control. It is important one the leader has been selected, that they are given the authority to evaluate the resources in the QA organization to determine if they will fit into the department going forward. The leader will have evaluate the resources over a period of time, such as 30-60 days. If at the end of the period the leader decides to either keep, put on probation or dismiss the employees, those decisions must be supported by the executive leadership of the company.
4. Give leader equal organizational representation. This means that the QA leader should be given the same amount of representation as the development leader. If the QA leader does not have the same level, this needs to be addressed.
5. Provide the leader with budget to be successful. You cannot expect the leader to work miracles. It will be necessary to provide ample budget to get the organization to where it needs to be. Now, this does not mean provide a blank check, but there should be an expectation that certain things might need to change in order for the QA organization to run effectively. For example, there might be some software testing tools needed to help take the organization to the next level. This should be anticipated. Also, there might be a need for some expertise in the form of contractors to get things started.