3 Tips to Manage a Remote QA Team

Dan Cagen
minute read

Based on their years of experience, our Test Team Leads share advice on how to run distributed testing teams

How do you manage a remote team of testers?

This is a critical question for many development teams, now more than ever with so many employees working from home. And it’s a question that we here at Applause are uniquely positioned to answer.

Since pioneering remote and distributed testing in 2007, we have remained the leader in the category. Our testing services are powered almost exclusively by remote testers. Both our dedicated testing team managers and our uTest community of testers work remotely, testing thousands of our clients’ digital builds on their own devices. (We are always accepting new testers to join our community and make money while working from home.)

We’ve learned a lot about managing remote testers over the last decade. These best practices are critical to ensuring remote testers produce quality work quickly and efficiently, and provide the testing results you need.

Given this background, our Test Team Leads (TTLs), who work directly with our community on each test cycle for our customers, have three best practices for you to manage remote teams and ensure that testing doesn’t skip a beat.

Ensure the ‘quality control of QA’

When testers work remotely, it’s imperative for the QA manager to provide testing instructions that are bulletproof and leave no room for misinterpretation.

According to Martin Furholz, who’s been a TTL for Applause for several years, one of the biggest challenges to remote testing is the need for testers to receive a compact, structured and well-written overview of all the relevant information. Anything less opens the door to poor testing and inefficient work.

“This is crucial to the success of a test,” said Furholz, who’s based in Germany. “The fewer things testers have to research, look up, ask for or request on their own, the smoother the experience will be for everyone. Otherwise, testers may have to wait a long time when information is missing.”

The ‘quality control of QA’ is especially important for remote testing.

“The ‘quality control of QA’ is especially important for remote testing. Someone needs to define clear instructions, and another person should ensure the clarity of those instructions. Finally, testers need sanity check and smoke test access to the test environments (URLs, accounts, mobile app builds, proxy access). This is how you can avoid states of chaos, frustration and ‘noise’ in the communication between testers and test managers.”

Use video for testing — when appropriate

If you’re testing the product’s UX, you can leverage screen sharing to better understand the tester’s experience and live reactions. In these scenarios, having a view of how the tester interacts with the product in a live setting is helpful for product managers to understand what changes might be necessary for the product.

“This can be done by setting up an intimate scenario in which the participant and the usability expert can feel like they're alone in a room exchanging thoughts and feelings,” said Karen Mirmanas, an Applause TTL based in Brazil. “Screen sharing is the tool that helps us to observe how the participant interacts with the product, and we're able to monitor their expressions while watching the screen.”

With user experience testing, leverage screen sharing to better understand the tester’s live reactions.

For functional testing, it may not be necessary to use video conferencing or screen sharing, especially for experienced testers. However, functional testers can use screen recordings to reproduce the error or defect, which helps engineers see the error and the point at which it fails, so they can diagnose the issue more quickly.

Communicate more often for Agile workflows

When testers are remote, make a stronger effort to communicate with your testing team throughout the day. This ensures you can maintain an Agile workflow, supports projects moving along as scheduled and provides the opportunity for testers to communicate roadblocks to QA management.

“The right level of communication with testers is critical for a manager to understand status,” said Divyaprabha Ulaganathan, an Applause TTL based in India. “That’s how you detect roadblocks as early as possible and unblock those issues quickly. You can communicate through chat or through a project management platform — either one works for this.”

Constant communication can keep teams informed and allow them to pivot easily to support testing. For example, it helps ensure testers are at the ready when hotfixes are released and need to be immediately queued.

You can learn more best practices on how to manage a remote team of testers in our webinar, Ensure Remote Testing Doesn’t Slow Down Your SDLC.

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