Six stages of development of training in the QA department

Hi all! My name is Marina Shesternina, I am a Lead Testing Engineer and Process Chapter Lead in REG.RU. As a lead, I help newcomers adapt, and the rest of the team members find growth points and learn more effectively. She was a mentor, as well as the creator of an internal testing course. Since 2014, I have helped almost two dozen specialists in their professional development, some of them are my current colleagues.

New employees come to the department most often through internal competition. Of course, we also hire employees from outside, but first of all we are looking for junior positions among our own. Two-thirds of our current QA staff came from customer services (support for data migration, website builder, billing, hosting, and domains). Internal newbies know the product very well, but have no experience in testing. Therefore, the main priority in their training is pumping hard skills.

In this article, I will talk about training newbies in the QA department. REG.RU and how it has changed over the years.

1. Where we started

In general, the history of the department began in the company 15 years ago with a couple of people. It is now for new employees that we have dedicated mentors, training templates and an internal educational platform, and then newcomers were integrated according to the scheme “google the theory look for an experienced colleague do the task with him do the tasks yourself“. This very conditional training took about a week (now on average 3-4 weeks).

In 2012, I studied the same way when I joined the company. At that time, I had minimal testing experience. At the direction of the manager, I read the internal wiki, looked at the structure of test cases in TestLink, walked around the site to more or less navigate, and in the second week I already completed my first task on my own. Questions about the tools and the specifics of testing the functionality were asked by two other testers.

2. Accumulation of experience

The company grew, the requirements for the quality of testing and the load on the department increased. The team’s need for new knowledge has increased, thanks to which a collective background has been formed on the use of different testing tools and techniques. At this stage, the department began a gradual transition from personal drafts and cheat sheets to a common system of knowledge. Despite this, the acquisition of new skills still happened chaotically and was built not from the requirements of a single task or the entire project, but from the personal interest of each employee in some area of ​​testing.

3. Mentoring

As the workload increased, so did the staff. It became clear that the collective withoutResponsibility for training new recruits is not the most productive option. And that’s why:

  • scatter in the level of hard skills and a variety of professional habits of more experienced colleagues pu (t / g) or beginners, if they tried to focus on examples of the work of several employees at the same time;

  • it was difficult to assess the workload on the trainee, because several people acted in the conditional role of the trainer;

  • areas of responsibility were blurred, which increased the risk of not conveying important information to a new employee.

To solve these problems, we began to allocate one specific mentor to each newcomer. A mentor could have from one to three interns, depending on the workload. He talked about testing processes, explained how to work with tasks and documentation, showed examples how to write cases, and generally controlled and secured the newcomer during his trial period.

The development of the practice of mentoring was facilitated by the fact that several employees were certified ISTQB. Preparing for the exam allowed them to structure the theory first in their head, and then to share knowledge with other experienced colleagues, which eliminated gaps in the knowledge of the department as a whole. This made it possible:

  • form a common structured theoretical base. The team spoke “the same language” because everyone began to operate with the same terms and correctly draw up identical documents;

  • come to a unified format of work with newcomers. Now the knowledge they received is practically independent of the experience and practice of a particular mentor;

  • minimize the risk of a bass factor in the absence of one of the mentors. One absent mentor can be replaced by another.

4. Training template

Repeating the same information to beginners over and over led us to create a training template. We did not go to it purposefully, but simply at a certain moment we realized that the template already exists. It remained to comb what was, and officially consolidate.

We started using the learning pattern in the beginner integration process. It consisted of three parts:

  1. Process items that needed to be completed before the actual work began (for example, gain access to internal resources, set up a screenshot, etc.).

  2. Theory and assignments for using test design techniques.

  3. The study of automation, which also consisted of theory and practical tasks.

5. YPR

Over time, it became clear that the training template in its pure form was not suitable for everyone: for some it was not enough, while for others some of the information was already known and they could immediately put it into practice. To solve this problem, we decided to use individual development plans (IDPs).

We prepared an IEP for both old-timers and beginners: for an experienced employee, it was based on their own interests and project requirements, and for a beginner, it was based on a training template adapted to a specific tester.

At its core, a beginner’s IPR is a separate task in the tracker, which we began to start for each employee during a trial period. Inside the training task, there were checklists on testing theory and automation. Practice for manual testing for an example:

Specifically, we abandoned this checklist, because the tasks from it were transferred to the internal course (we will talk about it a little later).

The implementation of the IPR began to be considered an indicator of the passage of the probationary period. At the same time, the process roadmap remained unchanged. Thanks to the IPR, the learning process itself has become more transparent and it has become easier for mentors to control it. And that’s why:

  • visible progress in education,

  • problems with the study of a topic immediately became noticeable,

  • it became possible to assess and adjust the workload on the employee.

6. Internal testing course

Although the completion of the IPR was a prerequisite for passing the probationary period, in some cases it was perceived as an elective that could be taken after the main job. Also, some newcomers were not immediately able to assess the needs of their development. All this increased the load on both the trainee and his mentor, because it required more self-motivation from the first and increased control from the second.

To solve these problems, we have launched a testing course on our internal educational platform, available to anyone who plans to become a tester:

Having completed the course even before the interview, the employee immediately understands whether it is his or not, what his strengths and weaknesses are and whether he is ready to develop in this area. Therefore, passing the course has become a prerequisite when considering internal candidates for the QA department.

The course consists of 2 parts:

  • theory and techniques of test design,

  • automation.

Tests are used to test the theory, and practical tasks are used for manual testing and automation.

Now the course is available to all employees of the company and, if desired, any of them can improve their knowledge to a level sufficient to move to the QA department. The benefit for the external novice is that he can independently and quickly check himself.


The process of training interns in QA has gradually transformed based on the needs of the company and department. Thanks to the training template and the consolidation of employee knowledge in the corporate library, we have streamlined all the information we have. Now we have a centralized resource where all the information that is used in daily work is collected. This helps to avoid unnecessary theory, reduce the number of basic questions and reduce the burden on mentors.

So, I will highlight the main elements of training in our department:

  1. Preliminary Course for Internal Candidates. The results of passing reflect not only the level of knowledge of a potential tester, but also a real desire to move to the QA department. Due to the course, we get profit in the early screening of those who are still weak in professional knowledge and have no idea about the work of a tester. But sometimes we pay for this by the time spent checking the assignments of colleagues who start, but never finish the course.

  2. YPRES. An individual development plan allows a newcomer to join the work faster and with less effort, which is beneficial for everyone. IPR allows you to adjust the employment of both the employee and the mentor. Most often we use it at the stage of studying automation. The complexity and volume of theory with practical tasks within the framework of IPR are regulated based on the beginner’s ability to learn and the requirements for using automation on the project. This process requires an individual approach from the mentor and spends more of his working time, but for this we get a huge profit in the form of a tester who is most suitable for solving the problems of a particular project.

  3. mentoring. This activity is aimed not so much at training, but at moral support, adaptation to workload and helping the newcomer navigate through the testing processes in the company.

We went through different stages of the development of the process of training new employees, tried new things, and in the end, it seems to me, we came to a harmonious and productive combination of three practices. It is the balance between preparation, independent work and mentor support that helps to preserve the nerve cells of all participants in the process and optimize the company’s time and money spent on becoming professionals.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply