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Spot Your Specialist: QA vs. QE vs. SDET

"Why do we test software?" The answers are surprisingly varied. This year's World Quality Report, however, reveals teams are becoming more user-oriented with customer satisfaction reported as the primary reason for testing software. As the WQR puts it, "IT today is not just about ensuring system availability, functionality, and cost reduction. It is also expected to contribute to business goals."

As teams focus on customer experience for their applications, companies are finding their objectives shifting to ensuring faster time to market and utilizing great amounts of customer data. This means companies need to rethink the role of their quality specialists to keep up with industry changes and integrate their quality assurance with new developments in DevOps, AI, and data science.

While there are several different roles focused on quality, it's important to have a clear idea of what each role entails and what kind of skills you should be looking for.

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Quality Analyst, Quality Engineer, or Software Development Engineer in Test 

When it comes to software quality experts, the difference is usually found in the amount or depth of technical knowledge a quality specialist might have, making them capable of implementing changes.

A quality analyst (QA or SQA) is the traditional role associated with quality assurance. He or she monitors and makes sure processes in the software development lifecycle comply with quality assurance standards, such as ISO 9000 or CMMI.

This role differs from a quality engineer (QE), whose job it is to apply engineering practices to different parts of the software development process for the benefit of quality. A QE should be able to define a quality plan, revise code, create incident reports, run all types of tests, know and handle the same tools and methodology as the developer, utilize CI environments, and understand the global business vision for the project.

Another role found in quality is the Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET). This role works effectively in both development and testing, focusing entirely on testability, robustness, and performance. Unlike a Tester, an SDET should know the entire system and participate in every step of the development process. An SDET's biggest strength is being able to think like a developer and advise development, management, and design teams on technical implementation and user scenarios.

Hiring Your Quality Specialist

Depending on a company's industry, project complexity, and specifications, they may require a specific type of quality specialist. You can support a recruitment process with the help of an offshore software development partner, but it's important to have a clear idea of what you're looking for in a quality specialist.

When hiring for a quality analyst, quality engineer, or software development engineer in test, make sure to keep the following skills and qualities in mind:

Quality Analyst 

  • Should understand the process of bug tracking, ticketing, and testing
  • Should have software engineering technical knowledge, such as SQL overflow or basic programming
  • Should know about manual and automated testing in Selenium, Cucumber, SoapUI, JMeter, and others
  • Should have the ability to ask the right questions, listen to answers when given, thoroughly explain issues and work well under pressure

Quality Engineer 

  • Should have knowledge of operations (infrastructure, servers, platforms)
  • Should be familiar with security testing, performance testing, and integrating checks in a CI/CD scheme
  • Should be able to test automation at different levels; from the API, UI, or protocol level
  • Should have a sensitivity for quality
  • Should be familiar with Selenium, Cucumber, SoapUI, JMeter, and others

Software Development Engineer in Test

  • Should have advanced automation skills
  • Should have White box testing capabilities
  • Should be knowledgeable about development
  • Should have the ability to build orchestration platforms


If your quality assurance process is ambitious, complementary knowledge surrounding AI, analytics and IoT may be required.

  • May need to possess basic algorithmic application capabilities
  • May need to know natural language processing skills (if the application calls for AI)


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Additionally, all specialists should also have a set of soft skills that allow her or him to work with others and elevate quality levels effectively and efficiently. Make sure they also have:
 

Overall Skills

  • Leadership – lead quality processes, make recommendations, and guide efforts to improve development processes
  • Communication – ask the right questions, listen attentively, express concepts clearly
  • Emotional intelligence – interface with coworkers, stand ground when needed, point out risks, drive problem-solving
  • Precision – detail oriented, tolerance to monotony, ability to focus
  • Empathy – understand user needs and behaviors, insight into the development process
  • Curiosity – constant skill development, learning new standards or techniques


With these qualities in mind, you can build the quality specialist profile that best fits your organization's and project's needs. For greater access to skilled professionals, you can start your search with the help of a software outsourcing partner. Hiring the right expert will enable your team to reach levels of quality and develop applications that satisfy customer needs, resulting in not just functional applications but significant business results.


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Friday, 22 November 2019

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