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What do QA lead responsibilities entail? The list is long

Taking on the role of a QA lead for the first time can be daunting. How does it differ from other roles? What does the job entail? Expert Gerie Owen has the answers.

Job titles and responsibilities vary greatly between organizations. In general, QA lead responsibilities require...

you to represent the QA and testing functions to the rest of the team. That means attending planning and status meetings, preparing test plans and coordinating testing activities across the scope of a project. You are likely to define the testing strategy and work with other team leads

You're also directing the efforts of other testers on the team, in addition to performing testing activities yourself. You may be parceling out testing tasks, advising on testing strategies and working with more junior testers to develop their skills.

While typically everyone on the team has responsibility for quality, your QA lead responsibilities mean you may be the one who actually signs off on quality as a part of the go-live decision. There may be a formal sign-off, or it may simply be an agreement on your part that the application is ready. In either case, you are the one presenting the risks and your professional assessment to the rest of the team and to management.

But QA lead responsibilities may have a broader meaning in your organization. You may be writing performance reviews, for example, or representing testing in management meetings. You may also act as a consultant to other testing teams. If your organization has multiple testing teams, you might represent your team in a testing scrum of scrums.

Your best bet is to find someone who has already held that role in your organization, take that person out to lunch and pick his or her brain. If you're the first QA lead in your organization, you have an exciting opportunity to define just what the role entails.

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This was last published in April 2016

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In your experience, what qualities do successful and efficient QA leaders possess?
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Technical skills may vary but people skills must excel. Unfortunately, many organizations promote for technical skills and leave fresher leads to struggle. Not only junior testers need mentoring.
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It will vary by company.  Often leads are treated as delegators for test monkeys below them.  (Bad idea IMO).   Leads have a lot of influence and the mentorin aspect is huge.  I can't over state that.
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The Association for Software Testing’s Workshop on Self-Education in Software Testing (WHOSE) worked up a list of skills that all testers should work to develop, but I think it’s especially important for leaders to have honed these skills. You can access the list here: http://whose.associationforsoftwaretesting.org/index.php?title=Main_Page
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From my personal QA lead should have a following skills:

1. Understand the business domain very well

2. Understand risk management and test methodologies that are adopted by their organisation

3. Have a good understanding of the Technical Architecture that is being implemented in the systems they deploy

4. Have an in-depth understanding of the technology layer that are used to realize the implementation of the solution

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The details vary definitely based on the nature of the company and the projects coming down the pipe.  Regardless, a QA Lead must lead by example.  This means that the leader must show the path of success by doing the work along with the rest of the team and not just assign task to the team.  If the QA Lead is managing both manual and automation teams, then he/she must also possess the knowledge of automation testing to be able to pinpoint the pros and cons, etc... QA lead role is a mix of hard and soft skills.  Micromanaging your team is one of the big mistakes I've see many QA leads do.  Again, leaders are the ones who show the way and take the entire team to project completion and not show the way and let the rest do the job.
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There can be very few major organisations that do not lay claim to employing independently certified Quality Assurance procedures to ensure that their activities and products conform to recognized standards. Despite this apparently laudable state of affairs, hardly any of these organisations exhibit the slightest interest in the objective measurement of the quality of that most important of project documents – the Specification of Requirements (SoR). The probability of success of any project is strongly related to the quality of the requirements in the associated SoR document – sometimes in many such documents where the project is complex or is a system of systems. An effective solution to this class of problem succeeds by identifying those risks to timeliness, cost and performance (including safety, reliability, etc) inherent in any SoR, that have been identified by bodies such as the UK’s National Audit Office and Office of Government Commerce as being a primarycause of failure in major projects. Numerous surveys and studies clearly indicate that the failure to employ an effective solution to this problem is annually costing tens of $Billions – possibly $Trillions according to a major study commissioned by the US Dept. of Defence in 1995, and, according to recent reports, the situation is not improving.
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