Asta Dagienė is changing the way that Zyro thinks about quality.
As the lead of our Quality Assurance team, she is not only reshaping the modes and methods through which we build a better platform for our users, but is also fostering a super-powered team of QA specialists.
We spoke to her about her vision for her team, how she plans to achieve operational excellence, and what candidates applying for QA positions at Zyro can expect.
Could you describe your role at Zyro?
I’m the Quality Assurance Team Lead. Quality assurance is much more than testing; it’s also related to process improvements to every detail, making our work easier and more efficient, and assuring quality in each step.
Other companies seek the same things and apply similar techniques, but Zyro is different because we have lots of freedom. If you have an idea, you can try it right away and you are not afraid to fail. If it works, you celebrate and if not, you think of another idea and fix that broken idea.
This freedom allows us to move faster. When I joined Zyro, the maturity of the testing team and testing activities was on the first rung of the ladder towards five-star perfection. Now, after half a year we are already on the third.
That’s quite an achievement because those two steps usually take a year or two. We managed to do that quite fast because we have such a great team.
We planned this quarter’s goals (OKRs) to focus on our testing maturity, and if all our work gets to the point where we want it to be, we will steadily gain those five stars. That would be really amazing.
Which initiatives do you think elevated the quality of work in your team?
When I joined Zyro, I knew that Zyro has test automation. So I decided to write a few tests and I noticed that it was annoying to use, not that simple, and took lots of time.
There were many good practices missing, so we agreed on a plan on how we will change that.
We introduced a POM (Page Object Model) into our test frame and automation frame. It helped a lot to increase the speed of scripting. Now, our framework is actually maintained and we totally rely on it when we do automated regression.
Another key initiative was exploratory sessions.
These sessions are designed to test our product at the ‘big picture view.’ You have some functions you want to test, you choose a user persona, and you behave as if you’re that persona.
You make observations and may find some bugs too (most of which are about usability). Sometimes, you may find some technical issues, but mostly we ask the people in the exploratory sessions if our product is convenient to use.
What should a new employee expect when being dropped into your team?
I like puzzles of various kinds. I even like to collect parts from different pieces of furniture and combine them into a single piece.
I look at my team exactly the same – as a puzzle that I need to put together. If you know what you are going to build and you take that tiniest puzzle piece, you already know where to put it, if you look carefully at it.
When you have a vision of what the QA team needs to do, you talk with your team members, you ask them what they’re capable of and what they want. Then you try to fit this expertise and desire into the right place.
This past winter, Aistis joined the team as a junior QA. He was excited but also frightened because he only knew some basics. He said: “I’m interested in automation.”
But for the first OKR, he was not given that many tasks for automation. I’d noticed that he is also really good with data and analysis, so the first tasks I gave him were to monitor speed.
The initial tasks were really very simple, anyone could do them, but diving deep into the data was the part he was keen on. This gave him the opportunity to create a valuable analysis and to really demonstrate his knowledge. He received great feedback, including from Giedrius (our CEO – read his full interview on WebsitePlanet), which helped excite, motivate, and engage him.
This is how I work with my team. I do not micromanage them, I simply treat them as any other colleague. We work together, and if they need my help, I’m there for them.
What’s your vision for achieving operational excellence?
Currently, we’re working on a Risk-Based Assessment where we would look into user data and into real usage, then assess our functionality risks. This would be a huge improvement because it would become clear which areas of our product have the highest risks.
It means we’ll see those areas we need to cover with more tests and automation. This would also help us to distribute our work better.
Another step we’re taking is unit testing and test automation on a bigger scale. We will cover all parts of our work with the highest risk with automation tests, helping us understand how good our coverage is.
QA also decided to help developers, to share best practices and to have an audit of where we are currently. In a month or two, I believe we will have just amazing results, which means more quality, faster feedback, and more frequent delivery to our customers.
How do you develop your team and make sure everyone is engaged with their work?
We agreed with each team member that they would think of their big dream, where they would like to be in two years from now. This big dream really has to be HUGE.
For example, in two years, Greta will be the Goddess of Performance. This is really ambitious and you need to be really focused to achieve this goal.
First, you list your skillset, then work out what you need to tackle, and evaluate where you are at the moment. What I then do is look at which areas they are lacking skills in.
As well as suggesting reading materials, we plan initiatives for the OKR with these skills in mind. So if someone says that they need some mentoring skills, when a new team member joins, I’ll invite them to be a mentor.
Over time we see improvements, and one by one we can tick off each of the steps.
The best experience you can get is hands-on and during your working hours. I even encourage my team to schedule reading for half an hour each morning, or a whole day if they need to deep-dive into a topic.
How do you build team cohesion?
I’m actually very proud of the fact that we know each other quite well because we communicate a lot, talk about daily struggles during our stand-ups, and sometimes just take ad hoc meetings where we say, “OK, let’s take a coffee and chat about all we have going on.”
We also have pairing sessions, where someone teaches another team member a topic they want to learn.
And of course, there are team-building events. It’s a challenge while working remotely, but we play games, talk about ourselves, how we got to Zyro, our strangest habits, and our hobbies.
Which Zyro values are most important for you and your team?
For me, the Zyro values is the most amazing part of the company. First of all, when anyone asks this question, I say that we have ten of them and each of them is working well.
For the QA team, Learn and Be Curious definitely stands out. They are learning, they’re reading, and I try to lead by example. We share our knowledge not only internally in our team, but also with other teams.
Then, of course, there is the Highest Standards value. Even when we talk about candidates, we want to choose the best. So we are carefully looking into each candidate.
At the same time, I’d urge candidates not to worry. If you think you’re not good enough, this might actually be a sign that you are good enough, because you are underestimating yourself. This is a common characteristic in QA because we have exceedingly high standards that we hold ourselves to.
What should a Zyro QA candidate know (which might not be in a job ad)?
We are quite surprised when candidates don’t ask us about how we work. Usually, this is the main change for them – the process of how we work and if one’s changing their job, it might not be quite what they expect.
In other words, you should really be curious and show us that you are through your questions.
Also, our job ads don’t differentiate between different QA roles, like automation, manual testing, or performance. This is because, in our team, we try to develop into T-shaped specialists, where we dig into one specialty but actually know quite a lot in other areas too.
We find the best candidates who would like to work at Zyro, then give them every opportunity to develop the skills and expertise they want and which will help strengthen our QA team.
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