Mastering QA Series #1: Leadership in high-growth startups

Insights from the QA Manager - Elena Zhekova

It's been less than a year since Elena Zhekova joined Plan A's team for our Client Regate, and her impact has been profound. Elena, with over 11 years of experience gained in companies like Merkle and Proxiad, quickly established herself as a key person in her role as QA Manager. Her strategic approach to refining quality assurance processes has paved the way for significant improvements.

In rapidly evolving startups, the urgency to innovate often prioritizes adding new features over ensuring consistent quality. Without early and robust QA practices, as the product gains traction and the user base grows, unforeseen issues begin to emerge. Integrating QA from the get-go not only minimizes these potential hiccups but also enhances the user experience and trust. A compelling product idea loses its edge if its functionality falls short of expectations. Consistent quality assurance can be the differentiating factor that retains customers and attracts investors, ensuring the startup's sustained growth and reputation on the market.

Project Background

Regate, a France-based company, provides a SaaS solution for finance automation aimed at small and medium businesses. It centralizes and simplifies financial operations and accounting management, enhancing collaboration. Thanks to two rounds of successful funding, Regate boasts a robust team of software engineers. These resources, coupled with the demands of a rapidly changing market, mean that there is a constant need to roll out new features swiftly. However, the challenge laid in the fact that their current QA team size and structure struggled to keep pace with the brisk development.

 

Elena's vision for building a sustainable QA team and processes

At the heart of a successful QA process is a deep understanding of both the company's objectives and market demands. Tailoring processes to align with these while elevating the product's quality is crucial. Predictability in releases is essential, as it helps in strategic planning and ensures timely feature delivery. Collaborative synergy between QA, developers, and product managers ensures the final product not only meets but exceeds user expectations. Moreover, leveraging automation minimizes repetitive manual tasks, reduces errors, and boosts overall efficiency.

 

QA Objectives

  1. Streamline the QA process to reduce bottlenecks.
  2. Increase the frequency of releases without compromising quality.
  3. Optimize registration and regression phases for efficiency.

 
Approach & Execution


1. Team Expansion & Segmentation

In response to the growing demands of our project, we made strategic enhancements to our QA department, marking a pivotal shift in how we approached testing. By increasing the number of QA personnel, we ensured comprehensive test coverage of every aspect of our product. Moreover, by segregating teams based on specific functionalities and modules, each segment of our product received the specialized attention it deserved, ensuring a meticulous and thorough examination.

2. Standardizing Test and Bug Reporting

Consistency is key when it comes to effective quality assurance. Recognizing this, we introduced structured templates for both testing and bug reporting. The universal test case template we developed ensures that no crucial detail is missed, leading to more thorough and efficient testing cycles. Additionally, our standardized bug template guarantees that developers receive all the necessary information when addressing issues, streamlining the debugging process.

3. Incorporating Advanced Tools

In an era defined by technological advancement, we implemented modern tools to enhance our testing processes. By integrating PractiTest, we benefitted from efficient test management and gained access to invaluable real-time insights. Furthermore, our use of BrowserStack allowed for comprehensive mobile and API testing across different devices and platforms, ensuring our product's seamless functionality in diverse environments.

4. Release Cycle Optimisation

To keep up with increasing market demands and at the same time ensure the quality of the product, we had to improve our release cycles. We increased the frequency of our major releases from once a month to three times, along with maintaining a consistent rhythm of two minor releases per week. This not only made feature deployments more agile but also speeded up bug resolutions, leading to improved user satisfaction.

5. Grooming for Better Communication

Effective communication is key to a successful project. To strengthen the relationship between our QA and development teams, we put in place weekly grooming meetings. These sessions have been instrumental in creating an environment of open dialogue, ensuring that every team member is aligned with the project's goals and methodologies, thereby driving cross-functional collaboration.

Ready to elevate your product to new heights?

Discover how a robust QA process can be your secret weapon for success. Turn to Plan A's QA experts and let us help you build a sustainable quality assurance strategy.

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A word from the CTO

At Plan A, we pride ourselves on having an experienced and dedicated team, and Veselin, the CTO of Plan A, is no exception. With over 19 years of experience in software development, Veselin has held a wide range of positions in the software development field, from intern to software engineer, lead developer, software development manager, and finally CTO. Throughout his career, Veselin has primarily focused on web-based solutions, business platforms and products. He is an expert in technology setup, development organisation, startup consulting, and software development. But that's not all that makes Veselin special. We are thrilled to have him lead our development team not only because of his professional expertise but also because of his kind and responsible nature. In his free time, Veselin actively volunteers for charity causes and gives IT lectures to students, showing his dedication to both his work and his community.

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