5 signs you need a QA specialist

Project A’s QA Analyst highlights the typical signs that indicate it’s time to add a dedicated QA expert to your team

By Annu Kumari, QA Analyst
Contributing editor: Dennis Krüger

Working as a QA Analyst at Project A, I have the chance to support our portfolio companies with various projects. During my work, I’ve noticed a common problem: Startups that overlook and downplay the role of a QA expert risk overloading the team and compromising the product quality.

This article lists a few typical signs that indicate it’s time to hire a dedicated QA specialist.

Slow product releases

Lengthy development cycles are a bad sign, especially in the current market, where everyone aims to release at light speed to stay in the game.

Usually, when there is no dedicated QA role in the team, the development process gets clogged by multiple back-and-forth tasks, resulting in slow product releases.

Integrating QA into your software cycle from day one helps you avoid situations where the product manager (PM) struggles to stay on top of all aspects of the feature because additional changes are constantly being introduced.

Developers don’t consider every use case

Many startups prefer that developers handle the testing on their end. It’s not necessarily the wrong choice, but it does require developers to be familiar with users’ perspectives and cover all possible scenarios.

Unit testing, for example, provides excellent test coverage and allows developers to resolve many issues. But unless it’s part of a comprehensive testing plan developed and executed by a dedicated QA expert, it’s guaranteed to leave you with numerous undetected bugs (including high-priority ones) that would surface after the release, generating extra work or even risk a feature rollback.

The PM has other responsibilities

In some companies, PMs are responsible for QA alongside a dedicated specialist. As PMs are familiar with the acceptance criteria and specs, it might seem reasonable that they review a feature before its released. But as the product grows, staying focused on QA and considering various user scenarios while handling all other responsibilities becomes more challenging.

Entrusting a QA specialist with tests and product quality ensures most issues will be detected and resolved before the release.

Furthermore, the QA can help the PM review the project requirements and create the feature specs or acceptance criteria early on. That helps avoid numerous issues during development, shortens the product cycle time, helps cover all the scenarios, and saves time and money otherwise spent on refactoring and fixes.

The backlog is full of issues

Not everything can be discovered before a release, and some low-priority bugs are pushed back, supposedly allocated for future sprints. These are dropped in the backlog, where they might pile up along with other (sometimes duplicated) issues found by the developers or reported by the customer-facing teams.

A dedicated QA who can prioritize issues and help clear up the backlog is invaluable in these cases.

There’s no proper process to handle bugs

A solid setup process for handling bugs is imperative. The workflow can be flexible when the team is small, but that only gets you so far.

A dedicated QA specialist helps map and implement this procedure to handle the issues efficiently. Here are a few examples of a structured QA process:

  1. QA doesn’t get involved during testing alone — they collaborate with the team from the get-go: Together with the product team, they represent user-facing aspects and contribute to the development as a brainstorming partner.
  2. Set up a software tool to track bug lifecycle and implement a smooth flow within the software development team. For example, use a Jira board with additional columns for bugs: QA (staging), QA (rejected), QA (approved), and QA (live).
  3. Create a complete list of testing scenarios, regression test cases, automation testing scenarios, bug reports, and a summary report.
  4. Perform thorough testing on different environments, like Review, Staging, and Production.
  5. Last but not least, they help guide the team about the importance of product quality and transform QA into a team effort.

Do you recognize these red flags firsthand? Have your product releases become slow and buggy? If the answer is yes, you’ve probably waited too long to hire a QA specialist.

Instead of stalling, integrate QA into your software development process and let someone help you squash those bugs.