Hacking our way to QA

When I started working at productboard a few months ago, there weren’t yet any proper QA processes set up. You might say the whole thing was a hack. There was a small amount of automated testing coverage, and one of our product managers performed most of the other tests manually. When developers found some time, they managed to hack a few additional automated test scripts.

Now up to this point, we had over 1,600 customers, and the feedback about our product had been great. But that’s only the beginning for us. We are gearing up for some of our fastest growth ever, and we need to invest in the future.

Enter QA. productboard’s goal is not only to make sure companies are building the right products but to delight our users. Developers, designers, and product managers spend countless hours to make sure we’re delivering a functional and delightful experience, and our goal in QA is to make sure that we always deliver what we’re promising.

In the beginning

Our development team lead, Alex, had already started carrying the torch for QA automated tests. He implemented the whole test automation infrastructure and integrated it into productboard’s software development life cycle (SDLC). He also helped establish cypress.io as the automated end-to-end (E2E) testing framework for our company. And of course, Alex also helped in recruiting me and Antonio, our senior QA.

Joining productboard felt like jumping on a space rocket, mid-flight! Joining the organization in the middle of an initiative was an added challenge. We needed to quickly get a solid grasp of a complex product and become familiar with the codebase and the existing standard engineering workflows. And importantly, we needed to get up to speed with the product teams!

Catching up with the product teams

We built productboard for agile product development, which makes us a purely agile organization as well. This means we use the continuous discovery and delivery processes instead of leaving testing to the end, contrary to the waterfall development model.

We started attending the teams’ daily standups and bi-weekly groomings, and gradually got more and more “in the loop.” For me personally, it allowed me to experience and learn a lot about a fast-paced organization with solid agile principles functions. Based on my colleague’s recommendation, I read Inspired by product guru, Marty Cagan, and it really helped me absorb new concepts and understand the rationale behind many of the philosophies and processes we follow at productboard.

The path forward

We are only a few months into building out our new QA capabilities, but we’ve already accomplished much, including refactoring the whole automated E2E test codebase and implementing a new internal testing framework on top of cypress.io. We can now write cleaner, resilient, and maintainable automated tests. We are at the beginning stages of truly scaling out our automated test coverage.

In upcoming posts, we will describe in more detail what we’ve done and what we still plan to do. The reason we are writing these posts is because I recently went to a few QA-related events, and I found that many of the conversations are still attached to old-school principles and legacy tools. QA is not only the last stage in a release. We are also a source of innovation! We hope to elevate the importance of QA in an organization and help others in the QA community push to be more strategic partners with their colleagues on other teams.

We are still very small QA team of two people. If you happen to be a QA Engineer or Software Tester and are interested in jumping on a space rocket, then join our team and help us out in this great adventure! Even if you don’t work in QA, but are keen on working side-by-side with such a dedicated QA crew, then see if there is a role that interests you.

Alexandre Castro Apr 25, 2019