Types of Conflicts Between QAs and Other Departments and How To Overcome Them

Types of Conflicts Between QAs and Other Departments and How To Overcome Them
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Conflicts between QA individuals and other departments like development, business analysis, and product management can arise for various reasons, including lack of transparency, communication breakdowns, conflicting priorities, and personality clashes. However, if addressed appropriately, conflict can be beneficial, allowing individuals to grow and learn from it.

I've worked in various roles, such as QA Engineer, QA Lead, Test Manager, and Technical Manager, where I witnessed conflicts between QA individuals and other departments. I know firsthand how frustrating this can be, but I've learned some tricks to help navigate and resolve these situations positively.

Below are some examples of conflicts I've observed and helpful strategies for overcoming them from the QA Lead / QA Manager / Test Manager role.

The blame game between QAs and Developers

The blame game between QAs and developers can take different forms, often leading to conflict. When developers fail to understand the role of a QA, it undermines the importance of QAs in the team. Sometimes, developers view QAs as gatekeepers solely responsible for the team's quality, leading to friction. QAs can also become frustrated with developers' poor quality of code.

🎯Ways to overcome it.

In such situations, I open communication and listen to their feedback to address the conflicts between QAs and developers. As a manager, I am responsible for clearly defining the roles within the team and communicating them to everyone. Often, the role and responsibilities of the Quality Assurance (QA) team are not well understood, so I make sure to discuss with the team members the activities for which the QA is responsible. I also encourage developers and QAs to work closely by integrating QA processes earlier in the development lifecycle. To bridge the gap between QAs and developers, I have implemented having developers review both manual and automated test cases, offer feedback, and ensure that both parties have the same understanding of what needs to be tested. Additionally, I address the QA-developer blame game that arises when the testing effort is not considered during the team's estimation of user stories. I oversee the Scrum ceremonies and encourage QAs to make their voices heard.

QA - Technical Lead / Technical Team Lead relationship

I have noticed this situation occurring in various scenarios where the Quality Assurance (QA) team reports directly to the Technical Lead, particularly in companies without a dedicated QA Manager. In these cases, the Technical Lead may not be equipped to effectively oversee and guide the QAs and the testing process despite having a technical background. This issue becomes even more significant when the Technical Lead is responsible for the professional development of the QAs. I have seen this happen multiple times in different contexts where the QAs reported directly to their Technical Lead because the company did not have a QA Manager. Even if they have a technical background, the Technical Lead may not know how to handle and guide the QAs and the testing process. This issue becomes even more significant when the Technical Lead has to work with the QAs on their professional growth.

🎯Ways to overcome it.

As a manager in these situations, I coach the Technical Lead to help them better understand the QA process and find solutions to support the QAs' career growth.

Boss and employee or exclusion of a person because of their appearance or ethnicity?
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The product manager/owner blames QAs for the lack of transparency. QAs blaming the Product Manager / Product Owner for lack of acceptance criteria

A conflict can arise when the Product Manager or Product Owner blames the Quality Assurance (QA) team for a perceived lack of transparency. The Product Manager feels that the QA team is not providing sufficient information about testing progress, defects, and potential risks, leading to misunderstandings and delays in decision-making.

🎯Ways to overcome it.

It's essential for QAs to regularly send updates and test reports to the PM / PO to keep them informed and provide transparency regarding their work and the progress of testing. I encourage the QAs I'm working with to use the Scrum framework, include brief updates from QA in the daily stand-ups to keep everyone informed of testing progress and issues and use retrospectives to address communication issues and implement improvements.

I often advise QAs to be transparent about their work and keep the team updated on testing progress, findings, and feedback on the product's overall quality. As a manager, my responsibility is to foster a collaborative environment.

When overseeing Scrum ceremonies, I encourage QAs to seek clarification on acceptance criteria and ask for more details if they believe the requirements are incomplete or unclear.

Most likely, I've only just scratched the surface with the examples I mentioned earlier, and there are plenty of other situations where the QA individuals could face disputes with members from different departments. I hope this helps clarify things for you!

⚠️⚠️⚠️ Implementing the strategies I have recommended to manage conflicts might provide a temporary solution. However, as a manager, it is essential to consistently monitor and evaluate the situation, provide feedback, and ensure that corrective actions are taken to address the underlying issues.

Addressing conflicts is essential for fostering a positive and productive work environment and ensuring the team's effectiveness in delivering high-quality software products. As a manager, it's crucial to proactively address conflicts by promoting open communication, facilitating constructive discussions, and fostering a culture of collaboration and respect.

Hugs, M.🤍