Remote QA Testing During COVID-19

You can’t neglect this important facet of the SDLC, so you’ll need to adjust your strategy, your communication efforts, and your expectations
September 25, 2020
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The challenges of continuing your quality assurance (QA) process with workers at home are many. Some specialists might live in areas with less internet connectivity — and others may lack access altogether. Even with digital vehicles for collaboration, it can be difficult to work with colleagues remotely, especially for such a meticulous, detail-oriented process. And ensuring that all those who need specialized equipment have it can be a hassle.

But despite these obstacles, it is possible to continue QA testing remotely. Not only is it possible, but it’s also necessary because without this vital process your software will never be ready for release. Here’s how to keep things flowing smoothly.


Improve Communication and Collaboration Efforts

The COVID-19 pandemic has made leaders and workers across industries realize that communication can continue even when it isn’t face to face. There is a wide variety of tools available to use for communicating about the QA process and software development lifecycle (SDLC) in general: Slack, Skype, Zoom, WebEx, and many others.

Both formal and informal check-ins are necessary for ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks when it comes to QA. You might, for example, have weekly meetings with the software development team and the QA team so they can fill each other in on their efforts. Meanwhile, your QA specialists and software engineers can also send each other quick messages, whether to ask a question or flag something for review. 

Make certain everyone involved in a given project, as well as leadership and stakeholders, have access to updates and know how the product is evolving. An easy way to do this is by using a project management tool like Trello, which shows how individual project tasks are coming along and who is responsible for different components.

Make communication and collaboration part of your overall software development and QA strategy by informing everyone of the guidelines for working with one another and keeping each other apprised of their efforts during the pandemic. Establish clear instructions, like how, when, and where QA testers should be documenting bugs.


Increase Automation

While no QA testing strategy should rely solely on automation over manual testing, you’re bound to use it more heavily than you probably did previously during the COVID-19 crisis. That’s because, unlike many types of manual testing, you can easily script and run automated tests remotely. This also allows you to run more tests since manual tests also take longer to perform, given the fact that a human must be implementing them.

Does this mean you should eliminate manual testing altogether? Of course not. However, you might find some types of testing more difficult, especially if employees lack the resources they need. In order to make it possible, ensure that your employees have access to specialized equipment for testing purposes.


Prioritize Efficiency

QA specialists will need to maximize the resources they do have and ensure they provide enough coverage for the tests they perform manually. These can often be more time-consuming given lags in communication and other factors. 

In order to use time effectively, consider scripting automated tests and running them during off-hours, to avoid eating up the workday with tests that don’t require human intervention. Meanwhile, in the case of manual testing, you’ll have to prioritize the most critical tests to ensure that these aspects of your software development process receive the most attention.


Rely on Seasoned Testers

Having experienced, dependable, professional QA testers is always essential. In a time of crisis like this one, you need to be able to rely on the expertise of trusted specialists who will be able to complete high-quality work remotely. This may mean looking outside your organization, even if you have QA testers in-house.

Outsourcing QA services makes sense in many contexts. Not only is hiring an outside team often more economically feasible, but you can also leverage top talent by looking globally. Testers in regions like Latin America and Asia, for example, might have skills you can’t find in your home country. 

During the pandemic, it’s essential to use experts to make the entire software delivery process smoother. When you outsource, you have experienced professionals at your fingertips who can either integrate with your in-house team — remotely, of course — to complete projects more efficiently or work on the overload that might exist because of COVID-19 or other issues. 


Be Patient

During these trying times, it’s important to remember that everyone is experiencing difficulties. In addition to the annoyance of being stuck at home, some of your QA specialists may not have access to solid internet connections. Others may lack the necessary support to complete their work as timely as you might hope.

While you should expect nothing less than precision and high-quality work from your QA testers and the rest of your team, you must also exercise patience and understanding, remembering that everyone’s circumstance is unique and some employees might be experiencing difficulties of which you’re not even aware. 

Do your best to accommodate your employees and their individual needs, too. They may need to have different work schedules from the usual hours they typically work, or they could require additional equipment that, if possible, you would provide for them. 

Today, everyone must reflect, revise, and refresh their tasks — and the QA process is no different. You can’t neglect this important facet of the SDLC, so you’ll need to adjust your strategy, your communication efforts, and your expectations to usher your team and your services through a difficult period. 

Remember, though, that if you do it successfully, you’ll emerge from the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic as an even stronger and more resilient business than you previously were. 

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