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I was recently promoted to QA lead on an agile team working with offshore testers and an onshore development team. What kind of things should I expect? Any helpful tips for how to be awesome at this? I was selected due to my soft skills not necessarily because I'm an experienced QA. Needless to say I'm a little confused on what kind of things I should be doing to ensure I do a great job. Any resources out there that will be helpful?

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First: congrats! Can you provide a brief description on how your development team normally interacts with your QA team? –  Daniel Jul 21 '13 at 19:07
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3 Answers 3

I second (third?) the congratulations!

While I'm nowhere near as experienced as Joe or Bruce, I can offer a few tips from experience:

  • Communication is critical - you absolutely must have at least an instant messaging application to talk real-time with your team. That application should also be something your development team is using since you want your testers working directly with the developer as much as possible. If you can videoconference, do it.
  • Where possible, try to get as much overlap as possible between team hours. This might mean that you end up shifting your normal work day so that you're able to have several hours when you and your team members are all online (if your employer doesn't support this, you have a problem).
  • Your team members may want to simply chat with you to improve their English skills. I'd encourage this so long as they keep the chat to topics involving what they're working on.
  • Be very, very clear. The times I've worked with offshore team members, I found that their formal English was often good, but colloquial English and particularly figures of speech could cause a lot of trouble (I also discovered that colloquial English gets used a lot more than you'd think, even in the context of leading a test team)
  • If possible, run everything (task allocation etc) through a web portal. Which portal you use will depend on your employer, but you're not going to be able to do things like a Kanban board in any way other than via a web tool.
  • Read up on testing in general and agile in particular - without knowing your background, it's a bit difficult to point you to anything specific, but Joe's site (http://www.allthingsquality.com) is an excellent resource.
  • Your main purpose is probably going to be one of support: if your people need something, it's on you to arrange it. It's also on you to be the buffer between them and any demands outside of their projects, and to be the communication point between them and management. In my experience, what happens in the project teams is handled by the project leads, where the test and dev leads act as the resource points and coordinators for the teams. This includes such things as finding information for your team members, guiding them towards better practice and so forth.

Good luck.

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I'm QA Lead for the offshore team, so basically I represent the opposite party to OP, but I cant add anything to your suggestions. Brilliant! –  Peter L. Jul 24 '13 at 10:46
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Congratulations!

Here's a list I used last time I took a new position: http://www.allthingsquality.com/2010/04/qa-leaders-checklist.html

It's pretty hard to know what you should expect, since every situation is different. Instead of anticipating, try to determine how you will go about learning what you have actually gotten into.

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That's an awesome list Joe! –  Suchit Parikh Jul 22 '13 at 16:22
    
+1 to @SuchitParikh –  Peter L. Jul 24 '13 at 10:43
    
Thanks! I'm glad you find the list useful. –  Joe Strazzere Jul 24 '13 at 11:08
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There is a very relevant whitepaper here that you should read. It raises some excellent points.

Whilst I don't want to be negative, or scare you, your situation will be VERY challenging as you have to contend with the following:

  1. Learning your new role and your lack of testing experience.
  2. Communication with and governance of the offshore team.
  3. Working in an agile team that is split across multiple sites.

I would sit down and perform an honest assessment with yourself on how strong or weak you are in those areas, and identify what you don't know and try and close those gaps.

You will need to invest in and work out a communication strategy for how to work in a distributed team I would recommend reading this post by Jeff Atwood.

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