Why Quality Assurance is my Perfect Match
by Seven Peaks on Sep 22, 2023 12:07:40 PM
Starting out in QA
In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if I was a good fit for quality assurance work. To be honest, I didn’t even know what QA meant.
After I graduated from Chandrakasem Rajabhat University with my computer science degree, I worked as a programmer in a small software company. Back then, I thought coding was cool, so I wanted to give it a try and learn how to program.
At my first job, the company had most of us wear several hats at once. In addition to my usual roles, I had the chance to try out some QA testing. One of my seniors showed me how to run tests and taught me how to write basic test cases, after which I was sent to work as an outsourced specialist at a telecom company. My outsourced position lasted at the telecom company for 2 years, which meant I gained plenty of QA experience there.
Having worked in quality assurance, I realized that it suited me really well. It inspired me to learn more about the industry. So, I decided to quit my job and pursued a masters in IT and Management at Bangkok University. The course was full time, and it took me 2 years to complete. After I graduated with my masters, I applied for a job in QA and never looked back since.
Why I chose a career in QA
I never really felt like I was all that good of a programmer. I was always very stressed when I encountered obstacles at work, and I always needed help from my coworkers. I just couldn’t make decisions by myself. I had no confidence. I hated being a burden to others, which ultimately made me feel like I didn’t want to code anymore. I wasn’t sure what my future would look like, I just knew that I had to find something that was a better fit for me – and that’s how I stumbled across QA.
The first thing that drew me to QA was the fact that, as a detail-oriented person, I knew my personality was right for this kind of work. My habits make it easy for me to identify issues in systems. To me, that’s not stressful work. In fact, it’s a lot more fun and motivating than coding. Whenever I get assigned work, I can identify the bugs effectively, which then makes my boss happy, which encourages me!
The second reason I pivoted is that QA allows me to solve problems by myself. I don’t have to wait for anyone else or rely on them. I can make decisions confidently.
These are the reasons why I believed this field of work would be good for my future, especially when it came to being successful. Since I already knew that QA jobs pay pretty, I made working in the field my one goal.
The challenges of working in QA
QA is the work that truly challenges your abilities. It’s not for everyone.
QA isn’t just about finding bugs. It’s the control room of the project. You have to be able to communicate effectively, whether it's with your clients, developers, supervisors, or managers. You have to be able to spot defects and bugs. You need great soft skills like being able to talk to people properly.
More importantly, you need problem-solving skills, because you are constantly going to be facing issues you hadn’t anticipated.
There are several methods involved in running QA, and they’ve changed a lot over the years. These days, there are several processes and automated tools that help us work. What this means, of course, is that this job requires constant self-learning. Plus, you need a basic understanding of coding.
The most difficult and time-consuming part of QA is transforming client demands into a test case. Not only do you need to determine the tests needed to discover bugs, but you also need to be as efficient as possible while covering as much as possible. Honestly, I’ve dealt with clients who deliver an endless stream of requirements. I spent a lot of time practicing writing test cases, so that I could get used to the process and it would get easier for me.
That being said, I loved facing these challenges. Challenges keep things interesting.
At first, I didn’t know what processes were involved in running QA. I didn’t start out in quality assurance, and when I did start running tests, nobody knew what my abilities were. Even if I tried to do my research into methodologies, once I was faced with QA work, I found out that very little of the theory I studied gets used in real life. I just had to deal with the issues as they came.
I learned a lot from my first mentor, one of the seniors in my old company’s QA department. I learned about quality assurance, test levels, and how to write test cases. My senior gave me exercises to practice on before I was assigned to the outsourced job. However, since I was just a test executor at the time, other people ended up writing the test cases while I just ran the tests.
However, after I completed my masters, I took on a QA role at a new company. One of the directors there (who was in charge of the whole IT department) used to give me career advice. Even if he wasn’t technically QA, he taught me how to think and brainstorm, and provided me with great sources of information that I could then apply to my work.
Additionally, I sought out even more knowledge by taking courses and joining events. This, combined with the knowledge and experience I gained while working with the director, helped me grow into a Senior QA Engineer within just one year.
The turning point
At one point, I moved my life to Norway. I was actually there for almost a year, but I ended up waiting around, trying to learn the language, and trying to find a place in a struggling job market and economy that was trying to support large numbers of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria. I eventually got tired of it and couldn’t wait around any longer, so I decided to return to Thailand in the meantime and find some work to do in the interim.
I was very lucky to land a job interview with Jostein, CEO at Seven Peaks. He brought me onboard with the team, and I’ve been here ever since.
If anyone asks me if I regret not working in Norway, I can honestly say that I regret none of the decisions I’ve made. I’m glad that I started working at Seven Peaks.
Lessons learned from mistakes
There are many kinds of mistakes. The first kind that I want to talk about are system errors. Now, this normally isn’t a mistake made on my end of the work process. It’s usually an error in the developer’s coding that I’ve discovered during QA and reverted back to them.
It’s up to them whether to fix the bug, but whatever decision the developer makes, they will usually give me a reason. And, I will usually reply with advice if, for example, it has high severity status and can significantly harm the business.
When a good QA engineer discovers a bug, they need to be able to determine its status. Is it low, medium or high severity? You should also be able to:
- Decide if it should be fixed, and when it should be fixed. Now or later?
- State what your concerns are if the bug isn’t fixed.
- Let the project manager decide whether or not to fix the bug.
- Give a reason as to why the bug doesn’t have to be fixed, or if a fix is needed, send it back ASAP.
Basically, some bugs don’t need fixing. It all depends on communication and compromise. Another factor you have to take into consideration is your client’s perspective. Sometimes, I might assign a bug high severity status but my client might consider it low severity. You have to communicate.
The second type of mistake I want to talk about is the type that originates from me. Now, this might happen when I’ve run a test and miss a bug, causing it to get through to production, where a client or anyone else might discover it. Although this rarely happens, I still get upset about it because it is a flaw in my work process.
In reality, these kinds of mistakes might not even be an error from my side, but might have just been a deployment issue. In any case, all I can do once the mistake happens is to explain how the bug managed to slip past the testing stage, and how we can prevent it from happening again.
Projects I’m proud of
To be honest, every project that I’ve been a part of has been valuable and has provided priceless experiences. Most of the projects I’ve worked on have involved industries that I’ve never run QA testing for before. Each industry has a completely different testing method, and I’m proud of having given 100% of my effort to each of them.
Meanwhile, the most difficult project I’ve worked on while at Seven Peaks would be testing a trade fair website for one of our current clients. The main challenge was that the client asked us to run performance UI testing—which I’ve never done before—with a pretty tight timeline of only 2 weeks. We had so little time to prepare.
Unfortunately, we didn’t plan enough time for research and didn’t have the data we needed. After running QA, we didn’t have the information needed to fix the errors. Our team worked late into the night, and we were incredibly stressed.
In the end, however, we helped each other successfully complete the project and received great feedback from the client. The project was both incredibly challenging and rewarding at the same time. Even if it was exhausting, it was worth it.
Our success in this project came from teamwork. We also had the Head of QA on our team helping us. Even when things got stressful or whenever we encountered a problem, we encouraged each other and helped look for solutions, so we could get through it together.
Looking at myself now and in the future
Whenever I look back at how far I’ve come, I feel impressed and proud. Seriously, how is it possible that I’m working at a leading, international company like Seven Peaks?
I’m still working on making sure that the software that I review and test is of the highest quality when it leaves my desk. And, I’m learning a lot about many unfamiliar types of businesses, such as event planning, agriculture, and insurance. I’ve had the chance to hear so many fantastic ideas that drive our client’s successful products and business plans.
A lot of these experiences can be turned into advice for the younger members in my team. I love being able to teach people and help them grow professionally.
Right now, I have no plans to change my career. I want to stay in QA and explore any areas that I haven’t tried my hand at yet.
Some advice for people looking to get into QA
The QA life isn’t an easy life but it isn’t impossible. The most important thing is to not give up.
During the pandemic, a lot of people shifted career trajectories over to QA. My advice, however, is if you want to pursue this track, you have to commit 100%. You have to really want it. You have to be willing to keep on trying no matter what comes your way. It’s not just a temporary tangent.
Speaking as a senior, however, when someone is giving it their best effort, if you give them a little help, their work will steadily improve.
In reality, every single person has a job or role that they’re suited to. Even I had to try a few career paths. Regardless of your journey, you have to give each job all of your effort to truly know whether it is the right career for you. Then, you can move onto the next thing and see if that job suits you better.
Sittichai Prachanan, Senior Software QA Engineer at Seven Peaks
Sittichai has 13 years of experience in the software industry, and has 11 years of experience in QA. He has held several leadership positions in the field at previous companies, including QA Lead and QA Manager.