Before I jump on whats, hows, and whys, remember three things about Quality:
- It’s better than quantity.
- It’s the most important thing in a service or product.
- Customers are always ready to pay money for quality.
Startups are raw. They are always on a roller coaster ride not only because they are breaking through a competitive industry but because they are developing and introducing something which is unique, new, unheard of, or maybe even unimaginable to some.
Every startup starts with the minimal resources it could gather, and even if not, nobody tends to put in that extra effort (or money) to hire a QA team or get QA Consulting company for product testing. So, most startups, naturally end up testing their products on a self-managed team and ad-hoc basis. This is not so bad at the beginning, but as your product gains success and reaches to an advanced stage, maintaining quality becomes a top most priority. That is where QA comes in. To define it in the simplest form, “It is the process of assuring that the product and service have the intended quality at every stage.” Why is it necessary for Startups to consider it as a full-time work rather than a side job? Here’s an explanation!
Confidence, Stability, and Security
Every minute spent on assuring the quality of your product brings with it a certain level of confidence. The confidence is that your product will solve the problem of an end user in the best possible way. Confidence does not only mean that you know your product’s strengths and abilities, it means that you also know the weaknesses of it. Identifying loopholes will make you work on the bugs, iterate and re-iterate, bringing the end result closer to a stable and more reliable product. Also, for your customer, reliable product is the one which is secure and tested. Hence, security is also an important function of quality assurance and very much needed to kickstart your product in the market. Andrea Corey, VP of QA dept. at Eloqua (Oracle), also advises startups to use some Agile methods for their QA process.
When should Startups hire a QA team?
You might not need a QA manager (or QA at all) in the beginning of your startup. At that time, most of the testing will be done by the developers and the product managers. But with the maturity of your product, the team members need to get themselves well-versed with the quality assurance policy. The QA policy should be laid down by the sole person incharge of delivering a stable, reliable, secure and finished end product. As the product grows, it has to be tested into a different environment by different people to get best possible analysis.
At each stage of your product, the need for QA is different. Let me cut down these for you.
- Idea Stage: Not needed at all.
- LaunchPad or MVP stage: Will be a distraction. Avoid.
- Beta stage: Very important! Start hiring team if seed funding exists and make them find bugs before your beta customers do.
- Pre-Launch Stage: After Beta stage, you will be with a better and enhanced product. Keep your QA team busy in making your product better than before and fixing the bugs identified in Beta stage.
- Launch Stage: It’s already late if you haven’t. Hire a team of QA/Testers who can help you find loopholes and bugs, write test automation and most importantly, keep your customers connected with your product. Learn from their patterns and behaviors. Ask them to report you a bug and take their feedback continuously.
How extensive the QA process needs to be?
The extent of your QA analysis entirely depends on the depth of your product and size of your team. For some development phase. you might not need a single QA manager (your product managers would be sufficient to approve of the feature). However, there are would be projects and tasks where you would need a complete quality assurance team setup always on the saddle throughout the development phase. For a safe practice, we can say that you would need one QA inspector for 2-3 developers, ideally.
Testing should be made a habit for all members of the development and management team. But leaving everything to be done by the QA or QC manager tends to put the developers in the slumber. They would just write heaps of code and let the quality team run their havoc on the code lines… Result? A complete breakdown and a failed product.
Hence, the QA person needs to be familiar with the development process. He can act as a bridge between the user and developer by evaluating the product as critically as the user/client and correct the bugs/anomalies found in the process. He must be proficient with some knowledge of the software development tools and most importantly, must have the experience of dealing with the client, since only then he is able to run the tests with the clients and end users’ perspective.
*For this article, I have assumed that the startup belongs to tech domain.