How to build an automation QA team that meets your needs
When building an automation software testing team from scratch or strengthening your existing setup with new team members, selecting and hiring the right people is a task of utmost importance. Here is how to develop high-performing teams for automation.
1. Create a solid vacancy description
The key here is to make the description as relevant to the job as possible, and not just to copy and paste the requirements from another vacancy. A difference in the requirements and duties between the job description and the actual interview will create a lot of confusion and damage the candidate’s opinion of the company. This is why it’s always a good idea to collaborate with someone who is actually working on the same project to outline the description, as well as ensure smooth two-way communication between the departments in case the project is to be launched from scratch.
2. Allocate enough time for hiring
Assembling an automation team from scratch or getting one or two strong additions to the team is not something that happens overnight. Things can get even more challenging when you are looking for senior-level engineers or automation leads, as they are no longer motivated to frequently switch jobs and are typically pretty happy where they currently are. The two things more likely to make them change their mind are an interesting tech stack and higher compensation.
The rule of thumb is that the more seniority you want to see in the position, the more time it will take to sign the contract. On average, it takes around a month to hire one senior automation engineer. It’s also worth noting that a currently employed candidate may need to fulfill their existing contract requirements, which can take another two to four weeks.
3. Know what to look for in an automation engineer
A competent automation QA combines both hard and soft skills that make them good at their job, and you can usually tell about some of those skills being present or missing already at the screening stage. Here are some of the things to pay attention to in an automation engineer’s CV:
- How many years of experience they have in total, how many years they’ve spent on average in every organization, and whether their experience in the last workplace is a logical continuation of their overall experience;
- How detailed the description of the last projects is and whether the type of product, platform variety, tech stack, and toolset match the requirements of the project;
- Whether there are any inexplicable gaps in the professional experience;
- The overall look and feel of the CV: it doesn’t have to be overly polished or overly creative, but it does need to be well-written, informative, and free of mistakes purely out of respect for anyone reading it;
- Whether the candidate goes into detail when explaining their role, responsibilities, and accomplishments on the project, or simply lists the basic project specifications that may not even fully match their seniority level.
If you want to get a better idea of the candidate’s personality, you can also check the section where they list their qualities and hobbies outside of work. However, it’s only natural for people to try and present themselves in a more positive light whenever possible, so take those words with a grain of salt.
4. Complete the interview stage
Ideally, the interview — especially the technical one in case the company uses multiple interviews to assess one candidate — should once again be conducted by a person with immediate knowledge about the process and the tech stack of the upcoming or current project. That way, the company will be able to choose a candidate with the most relevant skills and experience. But since an interview is a two-way process, it’s also important to give the candidate a realistic picture of what the project entails and what is expected of them.
5. Assign the leadership role
Any automation testing team, whether it has two, five, or twenty members, should have a clearly identified leader. And it’s not always the person with the most seniority or the person with the longest CV. It should be the person who is experienced in building test automation from scratch, maintaining it, and training other members of the team. Moreover, this should be a person with a realistic idea about automation in general, thinking of it as a helpful tool rather than the ultimate answer to every quality-related question or a complete replacement for manual QA in general.
6. Consider bringing additional specialists on board
Many organizations want to go the lean route when establishing an automation QA department, but the truth is that it’s nearly impossible to build high-performing teams for automation without eventually adding niche specialists on board.
This can be a principal developer with a strong background in methodology, a project manager with experience encompassing software development and quality assurance, an infrastructure engineer, or a person who will deal with setting up the reports and processing them for maximum efficiency.
7. Lead by example
Whether every member of your automation team is well-versed in their craft or there are some junior members who need time to master automation as a whole and the project specifications in particular, the best way to launch an effective automation QA operation is to go all-in.
Identify the scope of tasks for each member, assign the people responsible for different aspects of the project, tell your junior team members who they can turn to in case they have questions, and launch the project, showing how it should be done.