QA Hacks for Startups

How to maximize QA with minimal QA resources.


There are many ways to structure a QA team in an organization. It depends on the budget, the size of the development team, different development styles, continuous integration continuous delivery, are some of the factors to build an effective QA team. Below are QA hacks for startups.

The majority of QA issues revolve around budget and the size of a QA team. Product managers want a bullet-proof product with minimal bugs. In most organizations, QA management typically falls under the engineering department so the priority of QA is not in line with most product managers’ expectations.

Love it or hate it, every team or company needs Quality Assurance whether they know it or not. Some engineers believe that their code is clean and they don’t need QA. Engineers write unit, integration tests, and end-to-end tests to be able to develop faster. While it’s a great goal to have, it takes a lot of discipline and engineering resources to come up with test cases which cover all cases of all users that use the product. Wouldn’t you want your engineers to do actual engineering? You’re paying top dollars for engineers and you’re using their precious time to write tests. While we 100% believe in TTD (Test Driven Development), we also believe there should be a balance.

  • Many engineers believe that unit tests are enough to test the product with minimal manual testing right before release.
  • Unit tests and integration tests barely test the product. It’s meant to minimally test the feature.
  • End-to-end automated tests are brittle and require a lot of attention.
  • The mind of a QA engineer is needed to critically think about a feature and how it interacts with other features of the product. Feature testing, use case testing, and regression testing are all needed to ensure a stable product.
  • Most companies we talk to cut corners on QA due to a limited budget, engineering guidelines or beliefs, or because they just don’t know enough about QA or what properly executed QA can do for their product.

Take, for example, a startup with limited financial resources that wish to build a QA team. An effective QA team for a small project needs to have at least two resources, one senior and one junior. The senior QA specialist will plan the testing and meet with stakeholders to gather requirements. The junior QA specialist will execute tests, report results, and investigate/triage bugs.

The solution is to outsource some of the QA work to Blue Otter, mainly the manual testing and test case management. Companies will have a senior resource and three to five junior QA resources for manual testing at a nominal cost. To put things in perspective, an outsourced Blue Otter QA team normally costs less than one full time, locally employed QA engineer. 

The Strategy (Hack)

  • Hire internal QA resources to go to meetings, plan, and strategize. 
  • Hire an external QA team to run through all the test cases.
  • Having the external QA team allows the internal QA person to be much more proactive in testing as they will have time to interact with Engineers, Product, and management.
  • Having an external team will also give your QA organization QA redundancy.
  • At some point in the future, when the QA team needs to grow, Blue Otter can help transition or help find the right candidate since we know the company’s culture and product.

The ultimate goal is to have as much automation as possible. It’s something that most companies strive for. Automated testing gives the ability to have 80 percent of the features and integrations tested as soon as code is pushed into the repository. The last 20 percent is manual testing, a small but very important piece to the puzzle. There are the unknowns which can be caught by the mind of a curious engineer. The ideal team should have both.

Let us know how we can help your organization be more effective with an outsourced QA team.