I started a new assignment as a Quality Coach in the last couple of weeks and I’m happy to share with you my experience and learnings about this role. In this introductory blog, I will answer 2 questions that I’ve been asked frequently from people around me:
· What is the role of a Quality Coach?
· What are the required skills and possible initial background to succeed in this role?
Definition of a Quality Coach
“A quality coach leads, supports and rallies a team to collectively own and improve quality through facilitation, education, experimentation and visualization. They are a passionate advocate for quality” — Anne-Marie Charrett
Refering to Anne Marie definition, the Quality Coach could have a variety of skillset and traits to support teams and organization toward their journey to quality ownership.
In a nutshell, the Quality Coach supports and challenges team members by asking them powerful questions and helps them find the right answer to their problems on their own. This can help them have a clear vision and guide them on a regular basis.
Possible Background of a Quality Coach
I got some questions about what my initial background was before I moved into that position of a Quality Coach.
I have a computer science background, worked as a tester since my first job after graduation, as a test leader, as a community leader, as test automation specialist in different kind of teams Scrum, SAFe and DevOps Teams.
All of them helped me get various kind of practical knowledge technical and functional knowledge, also pairing with developers, with product owners helped me get a better understanding of their roles even if I didn’t play all the below roles that I’m going to mention later as a full-time role.
Also, as a community leader and someone who likes facilitation, I got the chance to facilitate various workshops to a different audience regarding quality and testing which helped me gain practical insights from people working in different roles.
I see the Quality Coach role as a collection of many colors combined together from the perspective of different roles.
Referring to Anne Marie perception about the role and to my very new experience in this role, I counted 5 colors.
Let’s discover what the Quality Coach could take from those 5 roles (colors) to describe his own role:
· Software Developer giving advice on testability, setting up test automation strategies, chose the right design patterns and other good practices to test automation to amplify code reviews within teams to improve the way automated tests are established and contribute to building and maintaining CI/CD pipelines …
· Software Tester firstly having the human skills that we called them “21st century skills for testers” including communication, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and good communication, also providing the necessary support to teams to properly identify and assess technical and/or business risks, creating test strategies, test reporting by providing the necessary information depending on who’s the target audience, heuristics and oracles to solve problems and make decisions under uncertainly conditions which could help improving test design and test coverage …
· Delivery Lead developing a work strategy and process flow, encouraging team members to adopt new approaches and improve ways of working for better collaboration as a team, this could be through workshop facilitation, and giving regular feedbacks to ensure continuous improvement …
· Product Manager sharing his quality/product vision in the roadmap to enable adopting the right changes, he helps the team prioritize the quality improvement workstreams while providing ideas on how to improve and measure quality through facilitation and visualization …
· Coaching Role developing the team’s skills and abilities and a way to boost their performance. It can also help deal with issues and challenges at the initial stage before they become major problems. This could be done by asking powerful question that change their way of thinking and guide them to get the right direction
Quality Coach within Organization
In practice it’s not easy to find all those skills in one single person, for that reason in larger organizations we can find 2 sub-roles of the Quality Coach role:
· A Quality Coach with a Technical focus
· A Quality Coach with a Product focus
Having the combination of both roles (as 2 roles or embedded into one single person) with all those skillset and traits will contribute to a better and healthy productivity of the team in relation to the quality of product, process and the team. This will add value to organizations and mostly accelerate delivery with the targeted quality that customers aim for which is the challenge of many people in this role and there could be other challenges that I will discover soon that I still ignore for the moment as a novice in this role.
I draw a sketchnote to visualize the colors of a Quality Coach, I did it mostly in French with English keywords but I’m sure you can get the message through this blog post.
I hope you enjoyed my first blog post about Quality Coaching, stay tuned for more coming soon content related to this topic and I’m curious to hear other folk’s experiences in such a position and the challenges they faced in this position.