Setting up a QA center of excellence

Dileep Singh Marway, QA Manager, The Economist, explains how he flies the QA flag high by maintaining high-quality standards, at all times, for the weekly newspaper

Marway’s passion is ensuring high quality throughout the application lifecycle and giving back to the testing community by speaking at conferences and contributing to TEST Magazine and other publications.

Like many software testers, Marway has a passion for “shift testing left”, whereby testers are integrated as close to development as possible. He ensures his team has all the support and resources to contribute to this strategy.

“When working for a co-located team across the UK, Belarus and Slovakia, it is key that collaborative communication and teamwork it the centre of all I do,” reveals Marway.

Key tasks

“Setting up a QA centre of excellence means I look for talented engineers in the Midlands and also sell my passion for all things QA.”

Other key tasks he assists with includes:

  • driving the test strategy i.e. deciding when to manually test and its approach
  • detailing tools and technology required for automation testing
  • managing and providing support to his QA team in Birmingham
  • managing and setting clear deliverables to QA partners
  • ensuring quality standards are being set/adhered to across all technology projects. 

For Marway, collaborating and having a shared team vision is key. QA would not be performed well without all team members being passionate about quality. It’s also important they feel they are valued members of the team.

“Driving the test strategy is also important to me. Without a clear strategy, the value of having an efficient QA function would not be clear to the team/other stakeholders,” he continues.

Development skills

“Though I live and breathe the ‘quality first’ approach, it can sometimes occur that stakeholders are more pushed towards the speed of release. It is, therefore, the teams’ job to highlight the risks of going live with minimal QA to the stakeholder.”

Nevertheless, QA can be an underappreciated profession. For instance, if a new game is developed, the development skill may be applauded, without taking into consideration the quality standards that have taken place. Differently, in Marway’s view, a tester is an ‘engineer’, which is a skill not all people have.

“QA professionals are analytical, have excellent attention to detail, and are curious and persuasive. A word, which sums up the profession, is ‘pachydermatous’. It’s important to be thick skinned and always have a quality first approach. On a daily basis, we work with/against developers and stakeholders to ensure that a poor quality output is not released,” Marway adds.

Tools & technology

“In the past, people would begin to test because of being poor at coding, or even over disliking development. My view is that a rounded engineer would understand the code and would help developers to instil quality standards earlier in the lifecycle. This is the main reason why I love my profession, as the role of quality is throughout the whole SDLC and no day is the same.”

Most jobs have their pros and cons, but For Marway, it is a selected privilege to be a QA manager and is something he’s extremely proud of. He explains: “Quality assurance plays a vital role in the success of a company. Given that tools and technology change so quickly in the market, it is a role whereby you need to constantly evolve and pick better strategies to deliver at speed.

“Currently, there are no downsides to my role, I work in an organisation where passion and enthusiasm are never thwarted. I am able to pair up and learn tasks outside of my role, as quality is a consideration for all roles, not just QA.”

Manual vs. automated testing

Nevertheless, like all testers, he has faced challenges, with the biggest being around the initial separation between development and QA, with the “throw over the fence mentality”.

“I am now seeing more of a push to QA being integrated with development, incorporating better unit/integration tests,” Marway adds.

“For me, the bad shift is simply moving from manual to automated testing, automated testing adds value, but only when it is understood and adds business value. QA partners and stakeholders are sometimes more interested in “automating for the sake of automating”, which most certainly is not the right approach.”

Marway also notes that the increase in automation concerns him. According to him: “it will give more physical control to digital systems and make cyber attacks even more dangerous”.

Check out Marway’s tailored QA strategies, as well as his thoughts on “manual testing being alive with new approaches”. 

Written by Leah Alger