This week Chris Bewick, a veteran in the video game QA industry and part of Game Global’s Advisory Board, will talk about his experience with Learning and Development departments and their importance when managing QA teams in an outsourced environment.
5 Reasons Why Learning and Development is Essential for Modern Outsourced QA
Over the past 19 years, I have provided services to the video games industry and, whilst doing so, witnessed huge changes in procedure. The depth, variety, and complexity of today’s video games are vastly different from when I started servicing them, way back in 2000.
Any service provider has a unique position, we get to work with a multitude of clients with whom we build strong partnerships. Through these partnerships, we get to experience and work on industry changes as they happen. When a client requests help from a QA service provider, they want to feel confident they are being serviced by professionals who are ‘up to date’ and able to tackle modern QA.
Therefore, it is our duty to make sure that client confidence is met. It is imperative that we deliver QA professionals when required, with the correct skillset and with the flexibility the client deserves. In order to achieve client confidence and garner great results, it is essential to support and grow your internal teams and their external partnerships by utilizing a smart, evolving learning and development solution.
Below are five reasons why I believe Learning and Development (L&D) is essential for modern outsourced QA.
1. Consultant mindset
As QA professionals, we should be able to give support to clients from the very start of the partnership. This support can range from standard compliance advice, data-driven testing solutions, advice on spending QA budgets wisely, and much more.
As our projects and teams grow, it is essential to educate staff and keep them up to date with the ever-increasing complexity of the games industry. Listening, understanding, and delivering the client’s needs doesn’t come naturally – it must be taught.
The service provider cannot expect to develop a QA consultant mindset by only utilizing initial training and a buddy system followed by ‘on the job learning’. A more structured L&D approach needs to be applied. Staff should be part of an academy that makes them feel rewarded at all times. Using gamification and other methodologies can assist in making the learning experience even more rewarding.
Without an L&D department, your business may struggle to adapt and absorb the intricacies of the changing QA landscape and consistently deliver flexible QA professionals.
2. Partnership growth
When building a partnership with a new client, it is essential that any bespoke skillsets or culture are assimilated. Without dedicated L&D it’s very easy to lose this client-side knowledge through natural staff promotion or attrition.
Building contingency for these bespoke practices is essential and should be tracked by a dedicated team.
If a client wants their QA provider staff to join their daily SCRUM meetings, it is up to L&D to make sure that all relevant staff is trained in SCRUM methodology. Additionally, the L&D team has a responsibility to approach less forthcoming clients and ask if they have any culture or practices they would like absorbed and included in our syllabuses.
3. Business maturity
We all know that the video games industry is turbulent. Project success pivots on many complex variables. With a landscape that fluctuates so quickly, it’s a difficult task to ensure all of our testers, leads, and project managers can keep up.
Helping young, fresh staff reach business maturity and understand the importance of tools like metric analytics, line management, and remote communication are ongoing tasks.
Bespoke tools must be created and managed. Without dedicated L&D support, these processes are left to their immediate management. Who may, or may not, have the time or the required business maturity to help successfully.
4. Business Respect
We all work together to achieve the goals and requirements set out for each and every project. We have a great team of QA professionals that are prepared to give extra effort to ensure success.
In my experience, if a company does nothing in return to, not only reward, but encourage hard work then staff may suffer from morale issues or nurture a disrespect. I am not talking about pizza and beer (for sure this helps!) but a mature approach to learning in order to incentivize the individual, team, and group.
I have found that a team which is informed, developed and encouraged is less likely to become disgruntled. We should feel like we are all part of a positive group that contributes to a common goal.
5. Hierarchy Health
Understanding and tackling the multiple variables, issues, and challenges of a modern, dynamic QA hierarchy is another ongoing task that cannot be left unattended.
Making sure the level of responsibility on each tier is comfortable enough for performance, that valuable contingency is in place and all staff is happy in their roles are just three of the many key pillars to building a robust hierarchy.
Without L&D, hierarchy strength and talent retention can slip very quickly. The road to recovery from such a slip can take months to repair. With dedicated focus, the hierarchy as a whole can be serviced, maintained, and kept mature enough to handle the toughest of times.