A software QA professional’s perspective on building trust within distributed teams

By Alonso Badilla – GlobalNow IT QA Lead

As a software QA professionally, I would like to share my experience in building trust within distributed product teams from locations around the world; which at times can be a challenging due to factors such as cultural differences, personalities, skill levels and communication issues.

From my personal experience a good approach is to get to know those people working with you; which helps to build confidence in each other and creates a genuine team bond. This means initially taking some time to inquire about the person’s life and interest by engaging conversations at the level person feels comfortable with.   This engagement lays the foundation of trust which allows team members to better organize work and receive and assign tasks in a more enthusiastic way. It also encourages members of the team to be forthcoming with problems that need resolution while sharing ideas in a “safe” environment.

To maintain this cohesion, it is important to communicate frequently and routinely; Ive learned that just calling people directly and letting them hear your voice (and not a text) can have a positive impact on productivity. Being forthright and timely is essential – never fear to contact anyone at any moment if you find a roadblock or have something to share about any relevant topic.

The above are general and commons sense rules for collaboration – but how does it specifically apply in the QA setting? Well, I feel our responsibility to communicate effectively as QA professionals to continues to grow because of the evolving nature of technology, tools and processes. With the widespread adoption of Agile and DevOps, we are required to collaborate even more effectively with people from a variety of different organizational roles. We design strategies, build test plans, make recommendations to stakeholders, work closely with managers, business analysts, developers, and end users. Effective teaming across functions and roles is key for us to help deliver an acceptable level of product quality to production environments.  Some specific examples that come to mind include:

  • Test Planning – understanding the product owners’ tolerance for risk to create a test plan that is the proper scope and coverage.
  • Test Case creation – working with BAs to integrate with User Cases, ensuring traceability,
  • Test script creation – working with Graphic Designers to understanding intent of the design and underlying functionality
  • Test script execution – communicating with developers and engineers, explaining results in a supportive way, while soliciting information from very busy software engineers
  • Automation Implementation and maintenance – working with agile team to quickly understand feature changes, updating automation base for routine regression and smoke test

As we know, the make-up of teams constantly evolves due to changing assignments, needs and personnel considerations. Consequently, trust building is a continuous process that is necessary for success.