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Katja Škafar shares her views on Quality Assurance role in software projects

In Meaningful work interviews I talk to people about their area of work and expertise to better understand what they do and why it matters to them.

Katja Škafar shares with us how she sees a Quality Assurance role in software projects, and where the industry can do better. Her background is in cognitive sciences and it was not a straightforward journey to what she does now.

How do your co-workers introduce your role on a project?

They would use my formal description and say that I’m a Quality-Assurance person (QA) that will take care of the testing and quality of the software project. 

How do you see your role?

I’m the final person in a process that ensures that the work that we do is up to expected standards and it is of good quality in general. For me, the quality of the user experience and little details are as important as technical specifications. From my personal experience, I understand how easy it is to lose trust in an application if it’s not polished enough. That’s why I keep advocating for end-users to ensure that we deliver a good final product.

Where do you see opportunities?

At the moment I’m thinking of how to make sure there is an understanding of the needs of our end users. I see how easy it is to build products that are optimized for a group of young IT-savvy users. I feel that there is this wall between the people who build the applications and the people who use them. We create processes around user testing and user research that might not serve us and we make it hard to just ask them “what do you think about this?”.

I find it encouraging that when there’s a new major version of an application, that they also do a survey where they ask me about how I feel about the changes. To me, that means that they care about my opinion and want to ensure that I enjoy using the application. I think we as an IT industry can learn how to listen better.

With an educational background in cognitive sciences, how did you end up in your QA role?

My previous job was as an IT recruiter. As part of my work, I started discovering all the different available positions. That’s where I discovered the role of Quality Assurance and I realized that it is what I want to do.

I enrolled in a six-month after-work web development course and at the same time started participating in crowd testing platforms. I started learning more about the field and how to use the popular QA tools. At some point, I found an opening for a junior QA position, and that’s how I got my current job. It took me all together about 8 months of focused work.

What do you do to keep learning?

I’m still reading a lot, watching YouTube tutorials or Conference recordings. With every new project, I try to anticipate QA needs and start researching possible solutions. There’s also a lot of existing knowledge inside my company so I make sure to always ask a lot of questions. 

What I learned from talking with Katja

The last person in the process should have a strong understanding of initial constraints. This way they can highlight difference from initial agreements.

It’s quite straighforward to switch fields of work if you can invest a few months in dedicated study.

Be bold and ask for what you need.