The Necessity of Hiring a
SaaS Quality Assurance Manager
Next in our series of articles, we’re going to look a little deeper at “life after launch”. As we explained, a successful SaaS product manager keeps the train on the track, and a good lead developer builds a fast, reliable engine. But bugs happen, and when they do, SaaS customers can churn out (and churn is the enemy of growth!). Consequently, it’s necessary to hire a SaaS quality assurance manager who can eliminate as many bugs as possible. We’ll outline what makes this role important and what attributes ensure success.
Role of a SaaS Quality Assurance Manager
In SaaS, both customers and providers want fast, frequent updates. Ideally, new features and releases roll into production often — the goal after all is shipping software that gets the job done and delivers a great user experience. If those goals are met, a SaaS organization can grow and scale to higher levels. Quality Assurance (QA) teams are all too often an afterthought, but developers can and should not test their own work… We’ve worked in more than one organization that under-invested in testing, and it takes a toll on employee morale and sales growth. As a result, it’s best to provide some form of dedicated testing resources.
QA’s primary job is to find problems (before shipping) using a repeatable process. Once finding them is successful in a repeatable way, the role becomes changing the process to prevent errors. For example, if libraries are missing from the build, advise development to update the build process to include them. In addition, if the process is repeatable, then QA should work to automate testing where possible.
Responsibilities of a SaaS Quality Assurance Manager
Testing without a plan is doomed to mediocrity (and ultimately failure). Test coverage is essential, and the plan guides development and QA to maximize test coverage. The QA manager has to build a plan, and a plan for improving the plan.
Although QA doesn’t perform the tests, QA should insist that unit testing be added to the overall test plan. The earlier bugs are caught, the better.
We’ll include two criteria in functional testing. First, does the software meet the defined requirements? Second, does it work? If the invoice is supposed to calculate shipping, for example, does it do so and do so correctly? The QA manager needs to ensure the software test plan starts with functional testing and that the team (or she) executes it.
User experience is almost as important as functioning software. Assuming the SaaS solution works, does it look good doing it? The QA manager needs to convey feedback to development where usability is not intuitive or works in an awkward fashion. If actual users can preview changes, that’s even better for feedback quality.
(Slow) speed kills. We’re all busy, and slow loading or slow running applications eventually get voted off the island (hello, Churnistan). We once worked on some software that worked…until 3,000 users all hit it at the same time. Slow operation for one user is bad, but with hundreds or thousands, it’s probably going to result in a poor customer experience. The QA manager needs to include some kind of performance testing, including load testing, in the test plan.
With more regulations being added each year, compliance is moving into the mainstream. In some SaaS solutions, compliance certifications like HIPAA or PCI are required, but in more and more regular applications, compliance testing is growing more important. The QA manager needs to ask what’s needed and build it into the plan.
Cybersecurity is a prerequisite in every SaaS application today. From payment information to virtually any data you collect in SaaS, some hacker can pilfer it and embarrass your organization. The QA manager needs to ingrain security testing early in the development process, with testing a confirmation…
Nothing drives users crazier than a bug reappearing after it had been fixed — it erodes confidence. Test plans must anticipate this issue and re-test everything every test run.
The holy grail of testing is automation. It takes time to build out a test plan, and it’s better and more reliable to automate tests. We highly recommend automation after manual testing has been verified. A wise QA manager knows to “test the test” first.
Traits of a SaaS Quality Assurance Manager
Detail Oriented & Thorough
Quality QA is about the details. It requires analysis of details from high-level trends all the way down to minutia.
QA is more than testing — it’s figuring out how to test better. Knowing how to identify root causes is hugely beneficial.
A QA manager needs to be able to think creatively (to how to design tests and test plans). The goal is to streamline delivery, not block it, so it requires strategy on how to get the best results.
Testing most likely means more work for developers and infrastructure engineers. QA will often have to stand its ground to get problems addressed.
Stuff happens. Timelines are too short. Development cycles are too long. QA is caught in the middle but must hold the line for SaaS users. It many involve some creative work out of a QA manager!
A good QA manager is a black belt in communication. That is, she must understand and be able to communicate about technical issues, needs to be able to deliver bad news, and should somehow remain positive among the negative energy.
The Necessity of Hiring a SaaS Quality Assurance Manager
With better applications come bigger challenges. Quality Assurance is a necessary element of any SaaS development workflow. To make your SaaS solution world class, you need a test plan and QA manager at center stage to ensure that the system works as expected. Quality Assurance brings a lot of benefits, such as shorter release cycles, better user experience, lower churn, and less burden on customer service. Setting up a QA team can be challenging, so hiring an experienced, talented SaaS quality assurance manager can lead to better results. With the right approach and skills, your QA manager can improve your delivery process without upsetting your development team. The right tone is crucial — “we’re here to help you work smarter” is more effective than “your code sucks” (which is what developers seem to hear). The right QA manager will handle it, and the team will benefit in the long run.