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Tech Talks with Seema Prabhu: Unearthing the Deep Knowledge of QA

09-May-2022

Tech Talks with Seema Prabhu: Unearthing the Deep Knowledge of QA

In today’s fierce market landscape, technology has evolved a lot. Therefore, it has become more crucial than ever for companies to manage and enhance the quality of their services. And since the only way to survival is grasping the market transitions, automated testing services are becoming the rage in the industry.  

For this reason, we at BugRaptors have always acknowledged the idea of networking and communicating with people. With that notion in mind, this time our software engineer lead, Sahil Verma interviewed Seema Prabhu, QA head at MotorK. 

Seema Prabhu is an ICP certified Agile coach and accomplished Software testing professional with over 16 plus years of experience. She specializes in digital and agile transformation Projects while also excelling in Technical, analytical, communicational and coaching skills. She’s also a public speaker at various conferences and meetups. 

Currently, she is the head of QA at MotorK. At MotorK she focuses on being a key advocate for a culture of quality throughout the business. She defines Test management and strategies of a growing quality assurance team through coaching and mentoring. 

During her interview, she shared everything about her journey and what made her step into this role. She discussed the innovative ways of automation and how one can excel the same in their businesses. 

Let’s quickly step into the conversation to get deeper insights about QA and automation. 

Sahil Verma: What does your current role entail?  

Seema Prabhu: As the Head of QA at MotorK, my role is primarily focused on being a key advocate for a culture of quality throughout the business, driving good practices and continuous improvement in process, standards, and technology across the engineering team. 

I am also responsible for managing the QA activities with the support of QA team members including growing the quality assurance team, mentoring and coaching the team members and building effective team dynamics.  

Sahil Verma: What are the keys to building a great team? 

Seema Prabhu: Leadership plays an important role to make sure the team works well together and remains focused on the right priorities. 

Hiring people with the right skills and levels of expertise, and integrating them to work towards a common goal. 

Communicate, communicate and communicate. Effective communication and collaboration will grow the team bond and keep the team relationship strong. Silence can easily grow the team apart. 

Opportunity to learn and grow. Effective coaching and mentoring. 

Respect your team as individuals. When individuals are honoured and respected for their unique abilities, they feel appreciated and effectively contribute toward your common goal. It is also important that the team members show the same respect and care toward one another. The team should work towards a shared goal of business, achieving team goals and individual success. 

Sahil Verma: What are the requirements for successful automation? 

Seema Prabhu: For successful automation, we must first understand why we want to automate, and what do we want to automate?  Are we automating for cost savings, to keep pace with competitors, or to improve the effectiveness of processes. 

Identify the right tool/ technology required. Carry out a proof of concept, share this with the team. Clearly understand the limitations of using the tool. 

Focus on people as much as technology. Invest in people. Deter­mine what skills people will need to meet automation goals. Promote continuous learning.  Identify employee training and fill the automation skills gap in the team by talent acquisition. 

Invest time to understand current processes and improve ways of working. Automation projects change the way we work. It changes the pipeline. Identify who and what will be affected by the automation project, and change the process appropriately.  Example, where will smoke, regression tests run, will we run a subset of tests for every PR. Will it be a manual deploy or an automatic deploy? 

Identify and focus on the most critical business processes to automate.  Implement a framework that allows for scaling. Scaling should not be an after-thought. Coordinate activities across cross-functional teams such as developers, devops, QA. Plan and prioritise  managing the complexity of infrastructure, creating and maintaining test environments, creating and managing test data required by automation project which makes it easier to scale. 

Automation projects should not be limited to the QA team. Encourage collaboration across cross-functional teams. Silos will hinder performance as automation projects grow in size and complexity. Prioritise communication of automation success, blockers, results across cross-functional teams while implementing automation projects. 

Lastly, start small, fail-fast and improve as the automation project grows. Identify frustrations, pain points and understand the motivation behind certain activities regularly. Observe, audit and use insights to improve. 

Sahil Verma: How can a tester innovate? Do you have any specific examples? 

Seema Prabhu: Rigorous testing is required to achieve good quality of the product / application before moving to market at speed. This can be achieved with innovation. 

Innovation is a continuous journey. It is like uncharted waters where one is either holding on and afraid to let go, or trusting and willing to take a jump. At worst, there will be blockers, at best one would learn new skills or practice already known skills to manoeuvre through the waters.  Innovation at its best helps us stretch our knowledge, learn from trial and error or learn by discovery, build new skills and much more. 

Innovation should be a continuous process testers embrace to keep pace with technology disruptions. With new technology, tools and frameworks that support testing, we can make an impact on the business and customer experience. 

As testers we face a lot of challenges in our daily activities. We have to empower our teams to be creative, fearless, passionate and make space for experimentation in solving these challenges by leveraging the technology available.   

In one of the projects my team used blockchain technology in automation to solve a testing problem that was a time-consuming and business critical process. Another example of innovation is where we leveraged a low code automation tool to automate testing of 100s of websites to ensure seamless experience for customers and for deploying at speed.   

Sahil Verma: How can test automation bring business value other than finding defects? 

Seema Prabhu: Test automation is vital for maintaining software quality in a fast-paced Agile development environment. In a continuous testing strategy, tests need to run at every step in the software development and delivery pipeline, automated tests help businesses to reduce bottlenecks and maintain continuity of pace of delivery. 

In order to reduce human efforts, without compromising product effectiveness and quality, automation of testing activities has been adopted as a popular approach. However, it is important to remember that Test automation is not a solution to finding defects and it can become expensive. 

Test automation is a confirmatory activity which allows teams to gain confidence that the system under test has not regressed. Automation also helps to   decrease the time spent on repetitive tasks, and thereby increases the time spent on exploratory testing by humans and the efficiency and speed of testing. Accurate automation techniques and automating the appropriate activities can help ensure a shippable, good quality product is delivered at speed.   

Sahil Verma: If you had to write a book tomorrow, what would you write about? 

Seema Prabhu: If I were to write a book it would be about human aspects involved in testing. With agile philosophy being people-centered, rather than process-centered, most challenges we come across are related to the human aspects. 

Test processes are complex and expensive. These processes have evolved over time and improved in methods, techniques and tools. Automation of the testing activities is one approach to reduce efforts of testing. However, the importance of human intervention by trained professionals has not been eliminated. Testing is not a purely technical activity. It is a socio-technical activity and this fascinates me how technology and humans are intertwined. 

Sahil Verma: What is the best way to get in touch with you? 

Seema Prabhu: Best way to get in touch with me is via 

LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/in/seemaprabhu/

Twitter : @cma_prabhu 

Stay tuned for more such amazing conversations coming directly to your fingertips from the experts of the industry.   

For more information on quality assurance and software testing, feel free to reach us through info@bugraptors.com  

author

Sahil Verma

Sahil Verma is a seasoned expert working as the Lead Software Engineer at BugRaptors. Since he has been associated with the QA industry for more than 10 years, he has a strong belief that, “‘Quality in any software is like grace to its existence.” More importantly, Sahil is a highly dynamic professional and more competent leader who understands every aspect of creating and executing business-productive software technology.

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