This content is part of the Essential Guide: Guide: Important steps to improving your QA career
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How can QA best work with contract software developers?

At some point, software testers are going to end up working with remote or contract developers. Expert Amy Reichert explains how to make the arrangement work for you.

How can I make the most of a temporary working relationship? I need to know how to work effectively with contract software developers.

As a QA tester, at one time or another, you'll be assigned to work with remote or contract software developers. Your team may be distributed across the U.S. or across the world. The team will only be together for a limited time.

Most temporary contract teams come onboard to help create features that are behind schedule, fix a growing backlog of defects or start an automated testing effort.

It's frequently the above average QA tester with exceptional communication and leadership skills that's assigned to the contract development team. Why? It's essential as a QA resource to increase communication and leadership skills because it makes you a flexible resource that can be fitted into a variety of team situations.

However, how do you work with contract software developers you don't literally see, harass or talk to everyday? How do you ask questions and get information or help?

The best way is to become familiar with online meeting software, like GoToMeeting, Skype or FaceTime, or even social media outlets, like Google or Facebook.

Good old-fashioned IM works for important items that cannot wait for a meeting or email. I know it's hard to imagine, but these days, email is too slow. IM is most developers' best friend, and the tool of choice, especially with improvements in video sharing.

As the QA tester, you also need to establish a working relationship and define expectations. You have to train your development team. You must be able to stand your QA ground, when necessary, to explore and test efficiently. Develop a give and take with the contract software developers like you would in any personal or professional relationship. You'll be more effective if you spend time creating a working relationship.

Maintain a healthy, professional sense of humor. Demand, but also listen, and respect others' time.

Speaking of time, if your contract software developers are in different time zones, negotiate the best meeting time to accommodate all team members and be flexible. As a QA, you don't have to break, but you can bend in order to foster working relationships. Practice flexibility when you can to form a stronger team bond.

Finally, do what you say, and do your job well. Don't skimp on testing and expect developers to pick up the slack. Do your best work and you'll build a team that works well.

Even short-term contacts can turn into valuable assets down the road. Remember to build your professional network one developer at a time, no matter the duration of the working relationship. 

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