What are the roles and responsibilities of a Head of QA?
In a previous article, we discussed the role of a QA Manager in Agile. Here will take a look of the typical skills required and the responsibilities of a Head of QA.
Head of QA role is a senior position within an organization which is normally the next level up from a QA manager role.
Depending on the role and the organization, the Head of QA role can either be hands-on from a technical point of view or hands-off with a focus on strategy and processes, or it could be a mixture of both.
Typically, there is only one role of Head of QA in an organization which will define the QA strategy and approach for all the company’s products and be ultimately responsible for ensuring product quality.
The role requires strategic thinking and planning and provide expertise throughout the entire product development life cycle with a strong sense of quality ownership making sure that quality is baked in from the start.
Because the role of Head of QA is the next natural progression from a QA Manager role, the individual must have a proven track record of building QA teams, managing the function and direction of the QA teams. The manager will provide regular direction, mentoring, and coaching to QA team members, ensuring the success of the team’s manual and automation efforts.
The Head of QA will have ownership of QA environments across all products. Working closely with the DevOps team to define the optimal solution for each platform.
The Head of QA will also take responsibility for ensuring all development tasks meet quality criteria through test planning, test execution, quality assurance and issue tracking.
It is important for the Head of QA to oversee the delivery and maintenance of automated scenarios and frameworks based on industry best practices.
Skills and Experiences of a Head of QA
A typical Head of QA person should have the following skills (not an exhaustive list by any means!)
- QA Management experience across multiple projects, off-shore and in-house.
- Be a strong leader with experience in implementing and shaping the company’s QA processes and strategies.
- Have strong technical skills, both functional and non-functional, manual and automation, ideally in a continuous delivery environment.
- Strong communication skills with all the key stakeholders to ensure QA vision is understood and implemented correctly.
- Be an advocate of Quality Assurance, Continuous Improvement and industry recognized Best Practices.
- Excellent knowledge of Risk Management, Risk Identification and Risked Based Testing.
- Experience managing testing departments or testing functions, managing large and complex activities and processes.
- Flexible with the ability to and work under pressure.
- Proactive, strong-minded, quick thinker and assertive.
- Able to motivate a team, recognize good talent and bring out the best out of each individual.
- A mature and professional individual who is self-motivated and enthusiastic.
- Excellent communicator, influencing skills and negotiation skills to get management buy-in on ideas and concepts.
- Able to communicate with all levels of management and peers within the organization.
- Providing leadership
- Building and maintaining relationships.
- The ability to prioritize work and tasks under pressure.
- Ability to handle conflict effectively.
- Ability to build, implement and direct quality assurance principles and maintain the quality of delivery.
Main Responsibilities of a Head of QA:
- Responsible for Defining QA strategy, approach and execution in development projects.
- Responsible for Leading and directing the QA leadership team.
- Provide leadership and technical expertise within Test Automation and Quality Assurance.
- Be accountable for the test automation projects, mentor, and provide leadership to the QA automation developers and managers.
- Participate in interviews, induction, training and performance evaluation of all QA leads.
- Provide technical leadership and expertise within the field of Quality Assurance and Testing.
- Ensuring that the development teams adhere to the principles, guidelines and best practices of the QA strategy as defined.
- Focus on continuous QA improvements including usage of appropriate testing tools, test techniques, test automation.
- Building and maintenance of quality standards as well as enforcing technical and testing standards.
- Monitoring of all the QA activities, test results, leaked defects, root cause analysis and identifying areas of improvement. Implement steps required to improve the processes.
- Gather and present testing metrics and testing activities for the projects to key stakeholders.
- Ensure the proper usage of available tools to gain the maximum benefit of the QA effort. This includes testing tools for functional, performance, automation, etc.
- Manage training and continuous learning of QA staff by means of short courses, conferences, meetups, certifications, etc.
- Be an escalation point for all matters related to testing and quality assurance and operate as a primary point of contact for the QA teams.
- Direct the development of the QA strategy, methodology, discipline and framework. Driving and improving the QA team in areas of automated testing and agile testing.
- Provide technical expertise in Test Automation, Testing Methodologies, Testing Processes, Tools and Techniques across the teams.
- Work with QA managers, Development managers and the Software Development Director to develop and execute QA strategies to meet and exceed department and corporate quality goals.