Chris Buick is a QA industry veteran and member expert council Association Game Global. He will talk about working in training and continuing education departments, as well as their role in managing QA teams on outsourcing projects.
5 reasons why a training and professional development department is essential for modern outsourced QA
I have been providing quality control services to the video game industry for 19 years. During this time, colossal changes have taken place in this industry. Modern games are very different from the ones I worked with at the beginning of my career in 2000. They are deeper, more complex and varied.
Now the position of each service provider is unique in its own way: we have to work with many different clients, and we try to work closely with them. Through this collaboration, we gain experience and learn to adapt to change. When a client turns to a QA service provider for help, they want to be sure that they are served by professionals who are up-to-date and can provide quality control to the latest standards.
Therefore, it is our sacred duty to justify the trust of our customers. Our main task is to provide, upon the client’s request, QA specialists with the necessary skill set and the appropriate level of professional flexibility. Maintaining and developing your team’s skills and helping them connect with peers outside of the organization is essential to gaining customer trust and excellence. This will be helped by an intelligent solution for learning and development, which is continuously improved.
Here are five reasons why, in my opinion, modern QA outsourcing cannot exist without a Learning and Development (L&D) department.
1. The mindset of the consultant
Quality control specialists must support customers from the first days of cooperation. This could be a routine consultation – for example, about regulatory compliance. But the client may also ask for your advice on data-driven testing solutions, or budgeting wisely for QA, etc.
As projects and teams grow, it is important to keep training employees and keep them up to date with the trends in the gaming industry, which is getting more difficult every day. The ability to listen, understand the client and fulfill his requirements does not come by itself – you need to learn this…
If training your QA team is about induction training, peer assistance, and on-the-job training, then don’t expect employees to develop consulting skills. A more structured approach to training and continuing education is needed. The learning environment should be organized so that the results are tangible. Gamification and other similar techniques can be used to keep employees interested.
Without an L&D department, it can be difficult for a company to adapt to changes in the QA market, learn all its intricacies and provide clients with flexible QA specialists on a continuous basis.
2. Development of partnerships
When building a relationship with a new client, it is very important to consider his corporate culture and have the skills that he needs. Without an L&D department, this specific customer knowledge is easily lost as employees move on to other roles or are fired.
It is extremely important to consider the individual characteristics of the client, and this task should be carried out by a separate team.
If a client wants the QA team to participate in daily SCRUM meetings, the L&D department must make sure that all employees know this method. In addition, L&D is responsible for reaching out to potential clients. Employees of this department study the peculiarities of the client’s culture and his approaches to work, and then teach them to other employees and include them in future training programs.
3. Business maturity
As you know, the gaming industry is unstable. The success of a project depends on many complex variables. In a rapidly changing environment, it is difficult to ensure that all testers, team leaders, and project managers work in harmony.
It is necessary to help young and new employees to achieve business maturity all the time. They need to understand the importance of metrics-driven analytics, line management, telecommuting and other tools…
It is necessary to create tools for individual requirements and supervise the work with them. Without support from the L&D department, these processes remain in the hands of QA team leaders, and they do not always have enough time and experience to help colleagues develop business maturity.
4. Mutual respect
We work as a team to achieve goals and ensure compliance with a specific project. Imagine we have a great QA team willing to put in more effort to ensure we achieve our goals.
In my experience, if a company doesn’t give anything in return, employees can become motivated or have no respect for the company. It’s not just about prizes, but also about interest. And I’m not talking about pizza and beer (although this, of course, also helps!), But about a mature approach to learning: you need to motivate each person, entire teams or groups.
In my experience, employees are less likely to be dissatisfied when they regularly learn about the company’s plans, undergo training and receive rewards for their work. It is important for us to feel part of a successful team, each member of which contributes to the achievement of a common goal.
5. Healthy hierarchy
The ability to deal with the myriad of variables, problems and challenges inherent in today’s dynamic QA hierarchy is another aspect that must not be overlooked.
It is important to ensure that at each level of the hierarchy there is an appropriate degree of responsibility, comfortable for effective work, and a pool of valuable knowledge in case of unforeseen circumstances, as well as that each employee is in his place. These are just a few of the key factors to consider when building a robust hierarchy.
Without an L&D department, the strength of the hierarchy and the company’s ability to retain valuable talent can weaken very quickly, and it can take months to recover from such a decline. When emphasis is placed on supporting and maintaining the hierarchy, it remains mature and the company can handle the most difficult situations.
about the author
Regional Director of QA in Eurasia, Keywords Studios
Chris Buick has been in the games and interactive entertainment industry for over 19 years. Chris is currently the Regional Head of FQA, working to build and improve the Keywords Studios Europe and Asia. Previously Chris Buick worked on quality assurance services development at Testronics’ Warsaw and London offices, developed a customized solution for Microsoft Xbox One console certification, served as Compliance Manager at Electronic Arts, and established himself in the industry with 12 years at Babel Media, where the highest the point in his career was the position of the head of the FQA testing division in New Delhi (India).
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