Tips for Moving to a New QA Project: How to Ensure a Smooth Transition
Getting transferred from one project to another is one of the most stressful scenarios for a QA engineer, as it brings a new level of uncertainty for you and your career. Now, of course, if you are the type of person that goes with the flow and doesn’t care too much about their place within the team, then the switch is not going to be a big deal. However, if you’re someone like me who always wants to learn and know as much about the project as possible, and also make an impact within that project, getting transferred to a new QA project means dealing with the uncertainty that comes with having to start over again.
There are various reasons why moving to a new project may be necessary—a colleague is leaving and needs to be replaced, the project you're working on has ended, or the project you’re currently on is going through some organizational changes. The truth of the matter is, you will most likely be transferred to a different project at one point or another in your career. This is not something you should be afraid of. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to grow, upskill, and become a better software tester. As someone who has been transferred from one project to another multiple times, I definitely have a few tips to share that will help you in your own career.
Tips to ensure a smooth transition between projects
The handover is a 50/50 process
Not every handover is a task that is carried out by one person and the responsibility never falls only on the person leaving the project. If you are taking someone else's place, it is your responsibility to make sure that every aspect of the testing process is communicated to you—tasks, tools used on the project, communication channels, and any important information about the application. Remember, you are the one who is now in charge of the testing, so you should know exactly what the expectations are and what you need to do to achieve them. Aim to overdeliver, not overpromise.
Do not wait until the actual start to get information about the project
To assure your new team that you know what you are doing, you have to do your research in advance about the application, project, its users, infrastructure, etc. This will help you be better prepared for when you actually start working on the project. The last thing you want is to start working on the project and get assigned multiple tasks and test executions but have no idea what’s going on. Asking too many questions at this point—rather than earlier—can delay the test schedule. For this reason, you need to be prepared in case you have questions, so you can figure it out yourself and not rely on others to answer each time.
This tip goes hand in hand with the previous one because ultimately they have the same scope—to give you the confidence you need to start testing independently and also be able to figure out things on your own.
Get your accesses as early as possible
One of the best things you can do prior to starting a new project is asking for access to tools used on the project as early as possible. This will give you a big advantage because you will get the chance to look through the defects created in the past, templates, patterns, and see what modules caused the majority of the defects. Also, if you are an automation engineer you can look through the existing code.
Another great advantage of getting access early is if there is a new tool that you’ve never worked with before, you have more time to prepare and see how other engineers use it on the project and understand the flow for this particular tool. You can watch courses or ask for guidance or even do individual tests by using the tool on your own setup.
Good communication is key
One of the many things I learned when changing projects is that it is much better to not understand than to misunderstand. If you do not understand a particular aspect of the project you can always ask, however, if you misunderstand something and continue carrying out your test plan with incorrect information, then this can lead to unexpected and inaccurate outcomes, which can result in trust issues.
To avoid this, make sure you know who you can ask for guidance and assistance, as well as what is the recommended way to report defects and test results. One thing I always do when I start working on a new project is making sure that I understand what the clients’ expectations are in terms of communication throughout the project. Specifically, confirming the workflow, understanding their preferred way of communicating severe bugs, learning if they want weekly reports of what was tested and found during the previous week, and so on.
Advice for team leaders
To make sure the transition or handover is performed professionally and as smoothly as possible to avoid causing any unwanted problems, my suggestions are:
- Create a schedule for the new QA engineer and experienced engineer from the team to be able to work together and exchange any important information that will keep the project running uninterruptedly. In the case of a handover, this should be between the new engineer and the engineer who is leaving the project.
- Allow one week for the engineer to get acquainted with the app and become confident in their knowledge of the project. This can be achieved by multiple runs of the app where the goal is to explain everything and any scenario that the application is being used for.
- Confirm that the new engineer understands who can assist them and the preferred way of communicating reports.
- Explain the project team structure so they understand who should update them when it comes to new builds, test plans, feature releases, etc.
The upside of getting transferred
It is easy to get caught up on that feeling of disappointment that your role in your previous project has come to an end. However, instead of sulking, you should look on the bright side—you get to take your experience, tools, and knowledge and implement everything you know in your new project. Plus, there are many advantages of getting moved to a different project:
- Opportunity to learn new tools
- Avoid stagnation on current project
- Opportunity to apply knowledge or skills you gained from self-learning or courses
- Ability to work in a team and expand network
- A chance to change your career path
- If you join a bigger team you have someone to rely on when it comes to difficulties on the project regarding assigned tasks
The downside of getting transferred
Even though there are more benefits to changing projects, there are a few things that can make your transition or integration into the new team a little bit challenging:
- You can be assigned to a project with poor communication between you and the client
- Your new team is not open to suggestions from your past experience
- If the project is complex, it might take you a while until you gain enough confidence and the client may have different expectations early on
Changing projects is never a bad thing—trust me
Even though many engineers prefer to stay on their current project because it feels safe, they know the team members, and they are proficient in the tools used. But the question is: what new knowledge or skills did you learn and apply lately? If the answer is none, then switching to a new project might be your chance to take your career to the next level. Moving from one project to another will enable you to learn new tools, hone your skills, and apply your existing knowledge in new scenarios. So when this change happens, see it as an opportunity to grow.
But to be sure your transition into the new project—or the project handover process—goes as planned and you do not feel lost, you have to prepare yourself in advance so that when you start working on the new project, everyone is confident in your skills.
Remember, the transition from one project to another is a 50/50 process. You must put in the work to succeed, otherwise you will have a harder time fitting into your new team and leave a bad impression on your team and even the client.
And if you’re a team leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that the QA engineer is well-prepared to take on the new project—regardless of whether they are replacing another engineer or stepping in to meet the growing needs of the project. For this, prepare a clear onboarding plan to help the new QA engineer learn more about the app, tools, frameworks, and any other important information. Also, another important part is communication. Make sure the engineer knows how to effectively communicate in difficult situations and is aware of what is expected to be delivered. With the right attitude, preparation, and support, switching to a new QA project should be a smooth process with plenty of career growth opportunities.