Test Retreat

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What does QA stand for?

Two letters – QA – and only a few knows what it means.

Some time ago I read an interesting blog post “Accept misnomers – The bigger picture is helping, not correcting language” written by David. I agree with the title, I like the list of misnomers (did not know about peanuts) and example with drop down menu, but in my opinion, explanations are necessary.

Here is my story

In last 11 years, I had a chance to participate in some crazy projects. Once I was on the project where nobody wanted me to be. I struggled a LOT. Everything what I offered was refused because it did not fit to their understanding of QA. The thing what they asked me to do – to make sure that developers work overtime – was wrong for me. Another aspect – they wanted to have have someone, who would be responsible for quality on paper and if something goes wrong they could blame that person. That was told me in plain text after I tried and failed for very long 4month. I was speechless. I thought it is some kind of bad joke, because during interviews I had the feeling we share understanding of QA. It was not a joke and I started to question myself: why I did not see it during interview process?? I had too less experience to deal with this situation and to save myself I quit the job without backup plan.

I learned a lesson hard way: not to assume that companies and experienced software development people share my understanding of QA or software quality in general. I learned to have a conversation about it and to recognise deviations and toxic environments.

Unexpected my crazy story had an ending : around a year after I left the company, I met one member of that project. He was laughing hard as he told me that after I left, the project was looking for another QA for a long time. They found one, but what a surprise to the technical leader, the new one asked the same questions which I asked. Only difference: he was a veteran and he did not accept answers I was given. Short time after that I got another message, that person to whom I was reporting (CTO), has been fired. It was good to know how it ended and it gave me hope and also motivation to carry on.


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One thought on “What does QA stand for?

  1. When I started in QA, the organisation I worked for understood it to mean “working with external professionals to ensure data quality”. We were engaged in utility regulation and we engaged with consulting civil engineers who were tasked with visiting the regulated companies to audit the robustness of their data collection regimes.

    Only after a year’s work were we then allowed to go on to look at the quality of our own data collection and management systems – which is where I became involved with IT testing. Even then, I remained involved with QA for published documents, ensuring that our published data was up-to-date and accurate, as well as correctly transcribed. I also acted as a data wrangler, sorting out disputes between the regulated companies and our own specialist analysts as to what the collected data actually meant and how accurate it truly was.

    Which taught me that what one organisation thinks of as “QA” will almost certainly bear no resemblance to how another organisation describes it.