Hello everyone and welcome to our blog series, where we interview Engineering and Quality focussed leaders. Our guest today is Tamila B. She is the Product Software Quality Engineering Manager at Abbott. In her long career in Software Quality, Tamila has worked at Startups, and big companies, in Individual contributor roles and in Management. She believes in building a strong QA organization while providing leadership that promotes individual growth — which empowers the whole team.

A former colleague describes her as someone with the ability to implement processes that strike the perfect balance between rigor and agility resulting in dramatic improvements to product quality and business outcomes. Her enthusiasm and optimism brighten every room she walks into. We’re happy for the opportunity to interview her today. Let’s dive right in!

Deepak - In your experience, what role has Quality Engineering played at the company?

Tamila.B – In today’s competitive world, delivering quality products is a must! Throughout my career, I’ve worked in different industries: Finance, E-commerce, Entertainment, Data Privacy, healthcare, and more. Quality engineering has always been a vital part of software development, ensuring that the company constantly meets (and exceeds) industry standards while continuously improving processes, tooling, and the team’s skill sets. 

During my tenure with different companies, the quality engineering team was responsible for defining quality standards and processes, implementing quality assurance processes and procedures to meet these defined standards, and continuously testing at various stages of software development (and post-production) to identify defects or deviations from quality standards and more. 

To sum it all up, even though quality is a team sport, and everyone in the organization owns quality, the quality engineers are guardians of the quality of the product and drive continuous improvements. 

Deepak - What are some of the key challenges/issues you have when it comes to Quality and how are you trying to overcome

Tamila.B – Related challenges and issues can take different forms when it comes to software quality. Examples include a lack of documentation, unstable environments, lack of communication, inadequate resources or tooling, insufficient coordination between Dev and QA, last-minute changes to requirements, and anything in between. 

 In my experience, key challenges have been related to a lack of adequate documentation/resources/tooling and/or time. In the start-up world, it’s mostly expected that teams are not always equipped with all needed resources (ideal Dev/QA ratio; needed tools, etc), and moving fast is always desirable and enforced, thus leading to tight deadlines and increased risk of dropping quality. 

One of the key challenges during my career in Quality Engineering has been the fact that when a Quality Engineering team exists in the company, developers think that only QE is responsible for the quality of the product. As I mentioned in my earlier answer, even though Quality Engineers are guardians of the product quality, the entire team(everyone related to the product) owns quality! Everyone should be responsible at every step for the quality of the product developed.

Overcoming this challenge usually took some time, but through my continuous advocacy for quality ownership, we always got to the point where we built products with quality in mind from the get-go and not expecting only quality engineers to own and guarantee the quality of the product. 

Deepak - In your experience, what has been the best way you've collaborated with the development team?

Tamila.B – At one of the companies I worked at recently, a small start-up with a handful of Dev/QA team, we had strong collaboration between developers and quality engineers, where we would start every sprint (or new product building) with a brainstorming planning meeting, where we all asked questions and challenged the quality of product/change before building/changing it.

Our Dev/QA collaboration has been an ongoing integral part of the software development process. Every step/change/issue has been communicated daily between Dev and QA, leaving very little room for ambiguity and assumptions. This way, we ensured that everyone was up to date with everything going on and that issues and challenges were communicated and addressed in a timely manner (and as early as they were identified). 

Also, reviewing and approving the test suite (before development even started) for new products/changes by developers has been a valuable part of the collaboration. This way, developers knew what test cases would be run once the product was ready, and consequently, they’d build the product with quality in mind. This led to fewer bugs coming up during testing and fewer changes needed down the line.

Deepak - What software tools did you use to improve your workflow? Did you consider any AI based tools to improve quality?

Tamila.B – During my last 15 years of experience in Quality Engineering, we’ve used numerous different software tools to improve workflow and manage the quality processes, but have not used any AI-based tools (yet! :))

Tools we’ve used (to name a few):

-Test automation tools – Cypress, Selenium, Appium, Postman, and more.

– Bug tracking and project management tools – Jira, Bugzilla, Confluence 

– Test management tools – TestRail, BrowserStack

– Data monitoring and Metrics tracking tools – Google Analytics, DataDog

– Collaboration tools – Slack, Zoom, Miro, Microsoft Teams, Google Drive, Dropbox, Notion and more. 

– For managing builds/deploys/installations/debugging – GitHub, TeamCity, Jenkins, X-code, Android SDK, Charles Proxy, etc. 

I am sure I am forgetting many other tools we’ve used throughout these years, but the above covers a major part of the software tools area.

Deepak - What software tools did you use to improve your workflow? Did you consider any AI based tools to improve quality?

Tamila.B – Over the next five years and beyond, AI will play a huge role not only in software testing but in any field and industry. Machine learning will enhance software testing beyond imagination. AI will probably be in charge of building, running, and interpreting software testing without the need for human help.

Hopefully, AI will be able to address problems such as quality predictions, fault classifications, test case prioritization, etc. 

Anyway, with or without AI, software testing has been and will continue to be the driving force for quality engineering as long as software development exists. By finding ways and making it easy for Quality Engineers to do their jobs well, companies can ensure that their products meet and exceed all business requirements and function in the best possible way while moving fast and keeping quality standards high.

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