5 SMART goals for a QA analyst (2023)

Skilled quality assurance analysts exhibit an inexhaustible curiosity that drives their work. Software testing is one of the few professions where people get paid to find out how something is supposed to work, then immediately try to break it -- and get praised for their efforts when they do.

To get ahead in this somewhat wacky profession, software testers must get serious about setting goals. Cultivate a passion for understanding how things work; that's a smart goal for QA analysts from the very start of their careers.

Every QA analyst should spend some time learning more about how and why things work, especially things that have nothing to do with computers and software. Ever wonder how mechanical cash registers kept a running tally of the day's sales? How were telephones connected via a patch panel matrix called a switchboard? These are great questions for testers to ponder and research. With that background, it becomes obvious how computers and the software that instructs them improved upon sales tracking, or how communication circuits can be established without human intervention.

Curiosity is one thing, but advancement on a career path is another. So, what are some specific, measurable, achievable, realistic (or relevant) and time-bound (SMART) goals for a QA analyst? Here are five individual goals a tester can target to stand out.

1. Get indoctrinated in business process mapping

This SMART objective is easier said than done, but it's well worth the effort.

For starters, lobby the test lead or QA management to spend time in the trenches. When testers spend time with business users who help work flow from input to output, both sides can learn from the experience. Understand the data that higher management needs to make good business decisions, and learn when it's safe to hand off work from one team member to another.

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Don't just observe. Ask lots of questions about what constitutes individual units of work and how business users would like to see them improved.

Use a flow chart tool like Visio or Lucidchart to create diagrams that highlight where key business decisions are made. Detail these decisions in terms that will help the development or test team later, automating a manual task or improving an existing algorithm, for example.

This work is akin to what a business analyst might do, but it's a smart goal for a QA analyst too. The tester's objective here is to become as much of a business subject matter expert as possible in how work is done in the organization. When it's time to create test scenarios, they'll be able to determine what's in the software's critical path versus an edge or corner case.

It might not be possible to shadow software's end users as they toil through the day, but learn any standard operating procedures that might be lying around. If no documentation for these procedures exists, draft some with an eye toward a QA audience. Ask why something is done a certain way, not how it is done.

It's difficult to measure this individual goal. It's all about gaining an overall knowledge of how processes work on the business side. Understanding this bigger picture will yield better test scenarios, rather than simply improve test execution steps. One way to measure this goal is to see whether a tester can fill in for someone on the business side in a time of emergency, or stand in for one during code deployment verification. But trying to review or validate this measurement might result in a point of diminishing return.

2. Understand the basics of programming logic

Forget about learning a programming language inside and out. After all, QA analysts don't write the code. However, programming logic is important. All programming languages have several basic logic structures in common:

(Video) How to set SMART goals for testers? - Heuristics and Mnemonics in software testing

  • if-then-else
  • case structure
  • dowhile
  • dountil

Software testers need a basic knowledge of these programming language staples for continued career growth. Successful execution of manual tests and automated scripts is helpful, but testing activities only go so far. It's even more important to know the conditions under which data enters into one of the programming structures, and what must happen for that data to exit it.

Let's start with if-then-else logic. In this structure, if is whether a condition exists. If it does exist, then execute the then function. Otherwise, execute the else function (or do nothing). The if-then-else structure works well when a condition is true or false. A case structure might be appropriate, when a condition falls into one slot in a range of possibilities.

A case structure expands on if-then-else by providing multiple functions to execute if certain conditions exist. For example, an if-then-else structure might check if a number falls in a range between 2-10 and, if it does, then the number is multiplied by five. If the number is not in that range, it will fall into the else condition, and is not multiplied at all. A case structure specifies what to do when a number falls into one of many ranges. In this example, when a number is between 2-10, it falls into Case A and is multiplied by five. If the number is between 11-20, it falls into Case B and is multiplied by four. If a number is 21 or higher, it falls into Case C and is multiplied by three. Case structures can get complex and involve branching into other parts of the code.

Dowhile and dountil are basically loops. With dowhile, a function is performed as long as a condition still exists. A dountil logic structure performs a function until a condition no longer exists.

While the book itself is a bit dated, Tools for Structured Design: An Introduction to Programming Logic by Marilyn Bohl and Maria Rynn, 1978, helps convey the ubiquitous precepts of all programming languages. A grasp of programming logic in a language-independent manner helps with comprehension of the entry and exit criteria to test discrete pieces of code. This domain knowledge marries a business process to the most appropriate programming structure. A yes/no decision point in a business process generally maps to an if-then-else structure, whereas a decision point that requires an answer to one of three or more questions might require a case structure.

Measure knowledge of these concepts by reading through the code with business requirements in mind. Is it more understandable than before? To achieve this goal and implement process improvements, a QA analyst might work with developers in a test-driven development (TDD) environment. In TDD, the QA and development team collaborate on unit testing of discrete pieces of code. Code is written and made to fail an initial test, then refactored to get it to pass.

(Video) How to set smart goals for testers? Heuristics & Mnemonics in software testing - QAM #2

3. Brush up on QA history

When goal setting, don't repeat the mistakes of the past. Learn what types of processes came before -- failed or successful -- and how those testing processes set the groundwork for existing ones.

The way to measure understanding the past is to see if it helps achieve better Agile performance. While the traditional software development lifecycle (SDLC) and Waterfall methodology eventually resulted in bloated products and documentation, lessons on the intent and approach might still be useful today. Borrow principles and concepts from the past and mold them into usable processes.

Check out the book Customer Oriented Software Quality Assurance by Frank P. Ginac, originally published in 1998. This lightning-fast read paints a picture of how and why the Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model (CMM) caught on with many organizations in the late 1990s. It might be an eye-opener to realize that some CMM concepts are still relevant.

4. Become a master of conflict resolution

This SMART goal for a QA analyst is another one that isn't easy to measure, but it is nonetheless important for career success.

A QA analyst's job is ultimately to find problems with the company's product -- ideally, before users do. Thus, the tester is often the bearer of bad news. Sometimes developers let out a sigh of relief when testers catch a bug before code moves into production. But there are also tussles between testers and developers, the latter of whom are adamant that their code is not at fault for issues. Developers might argue that there's a bad or incomplete requirement, or the testing wasn't done correctly.

Acquire the ability to mediate conflicts. It is a skill that will help quash issues between team members over the root cause of a defect, especially when the added project time required for remediation and retesting can lead to additional stress. Set an individual goal to mediate a certain number of conflicts.

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Conflict resolution is an art that requires confidence. Conflict raises anxiety, and it can breed animosity. Deflecting or avoiding conflict entirely is a goal worth attaining.

5. Boost project management skills

QA analysts really run mini projects within a project. Test planning, resource allocation, test execution time estimates, scheduling time for defect remediation and slotting time for retests -- these are all small, individual projects that contribute to the overall QA for the software project. All of these efforts require some project management skills.

A project manager will block off time for test cycles, or sprints, within an overall project plan, but that person isn't always able to get to the minutiae that a QA analyst does. Some CMM practitioners require QA analysts to fill in the testing tasks and timelines in an overall test plan, lifting some of the burden from the project manager.

To stay in tune and relevant today, look into the Projects In Controlled Environments (PRINCE) model, which has morphed into PRINCE2 Agile. The PRINCE2 Agile strategy specifically focuses on how project management and Agile product delivery combine as disciplines, which makes it very relevant for QA analysts.

One way to measure and achieve this SMART goal is to gain certification in a standard like PRINCE2, Certified Scrum Master or Professional in Project Management.

By meeting these effective goals, QA analysts can potentially advance along their career path to a position where they can still apply their testing skills and keep their intuitive minds sharp.

(Video) Chapter 4a: Writing Goals and SMART Objectives: What and How


What are the goals for QA? ›

Here are five individual goals a tester can target to stand out.
  • Get indoctrinated in business process mapping. ...
  • Understand the basics of programming logic. ...
  • Brush up on QA history. ...
  • Become a master of conflict resolution. ...
  • Boost project management skills.
26 Aug 2020

What are the top 3 qualities required for QA member? ›

Traits of a Good Quality Assurance Analyst (QA)
  • 1) Good Communication Skills. ...
  • 2) You need to be good at testing. ...
  • 3) Prioritise. ...
  • 4) Creativity. ...
  • 5) Programming Skills. ...
  • 6) Knowledge of Testing Techniques.
2 Mar 2016

What makes a good QA analyst? ›

Your ideal QA analyst understands all angles and works with everyone to provide positive results. They don't take sides. Having the power to put themselves in one's shoes is so important as they will better understand the how and why behind agent actions, customer satisfaction, and management procedures.

Which 3 qualities are most important for a QA engineer? ›

The most important qualities you'll need are attention to detail, the ability to communicate quickly and clearly with your team, and the knack to learn new things on the fly.

What are the 5 smart goals examples? ›

5. SMART goal example for increasing sales
  • Specific: I will learn new sales techniques to increase sales at work.
  • Measurable: My goal is to double my sales in four months.
  • Attainable: I've been a sales associate for two years now. ...
  • Relevant: I want to feel more confident at my job and learn new skills.
5 Aug 2022

What is the main goal of software tester? ›

The main goal of software testing is to find bugs as early as possible and fix bugs and make sure that the software is bug-free.

How can I improve my QA skills? ›

14 Best Practices to Improve Your QA Testing Skills
  1. But how do you become a great QA tester?
  2. Promote an environment where QA is a team responsibility.
  3. Test early and often.
  4. Track your work with project or iteration planning tools like Jira and Rally.
  5. Get involved in pull requests testing.
  6. Build trust.
20 May 2022

What makes a good QA team? ›

A great QA team requires very good organizational skills. Testing is a job with frequent interruptions: just about the time the tester dives into a task, the developer needs more information on the bug report. The tester switches focus, fulfills the information requested and goes back to the task at hand.

What are the 5 main responsibilities of a quality analyst? ›

Quality Analyst Duties and Responsibilities
  • Conduct regular software audits.
  • Maintain working knowledge of quality standards.
  • Develop and perform quality test processes.
  • Make recommendations for repairing defects.
  • Create, review and refine user experience documents.
  • Participates in bi-weekly meetings with IT department.

What are top 3 things most failed testers do? ›

Various contributors
  1. Fail to communicate. ...
  2. Try to fix the bug yourself. ...
  3. Assume you are a multi-tasking expert. ...
  4. Be afraid of asking questions. ...
  5. Give In (quickly) ...
  6. Stop learning. ...
  7. Ignore your intuition. ...
  8. Begin testing before understanding the scope and requirements.

What is the most important skill of a QA engineer? ›

Top 10 Skills to Look for in a QA Engineer
  • Communication. QA engineers are tasked with identifying issues and collaborating with the developers to resolve them. ...
  • Curiosity. This job encompasses far more than just spotting bugs. ...
  • Critical Thinking. ...
  • Discipline. ...
  • Accuracy. ...
  • Flexibility. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Coding.

What are good SMART goals for work? ›

SMART Goals - Examples
  • Overcome Your Fear of Presenting. I will build my confidence to deliver presentations so I can do so with less anxiety. ...
  • Be a Better Coach. I will improve my coaching skills. ...
  • Build Your Network. ...
  • Improving Productivity. ...
  • Become a Leader. ...
  • Be a Strategic Thinker.

What are the 7 principles of testing? ›

The seven principles of testing
  • Testing shows the presence of defects, not their absence. ...
  • Exhaustive testing is impossible. ...
  • Early testing saves time and money. ...
  • Defects cluster together. ...
  • Beware of the pesticide paradox. ...
  • Testing is context dependent. ...
  • Absence-of-errors is a fallacy.

What are the roles and responsibilities of QA lead? ›

The QA leader's role is to develop and execute exploratory as well as automated tests in order to ensure software product quality. QA Lead's responsibilities include estimating, planning, and coordinating testing activities.

What should be included in a QA Plan? ›

Quality Assurance Plans: Recommended Practices
  • Identify data quality objectives for your data or project.
  • Identify requirements for. ...
  • Describe a structure for data storage that can also facilitate checking for errors and help to document data quality.
  • Describe approved data entry tools and procedures, when applicable.

What makes a good QA lead? ›

QA Lead should never forget about who their end-user is and what they need. When you know why a certain feature is being used, you can make better decisions about what to test. That's why it is important that QA Lead always listens to the feedback received from customers and tries to advocate for it.

How do you motivate a QA team? ›

An additional way to motivate a team is by also scheduling weekly and monthly meetings. These meetings can be a great way to monitor milestones and team progress as well as congratulate strong performers and allocate tasks or projects across testers based on skills and/or interest.

Why should we hire you as a quality analyst? ›

Example Answers to Questions

I would be a good employee because I love working in a team-based atmosphere and thrive under pressure. I enjoy being busy and making sure that every product that goes out to customers is of the highest quality.

How much does a QA tester make? ›

Average £32,607 per year.

Is QA job hard? ›

The work of a QA specialist involves; verifying product requirements, performing risk assessments, improving the quality of the product, testing, planning, and analyzing test results. It's not too demanding or challenging, though. Unlike other office jobs that are often exhausting and can lead to professional burnout.

Why soft skills are important for QA testers? ›

They are the intangibles that make it easy to be able to work with you. Those that possess these traits not only become the best testers, but they also grow quickly in their careers, to become better team members and team leaders. From a hiring aspect, we are always looking for candidates that have these strengths.

What does a senior QA analyst do? ›

As an experienced QA professional, a Senior QA Analyst focuses on the overall design, development, and implementation of digital solutions within a company. Their duties and responsibilities may include: Testing existing system processes and provide recommendations for improvements.

What is the difference between quality assurance and quality analyst? ›

While the QA team tries to detect the bugs or errors in the software, a QA Analyst tries to detect and fix the errors in the processes that resulted in those bugs. The Quality Assurance Analysts supports the planning, design, and execution of software testing.

How do I become a QA analyst? ›

A bachelor's degree in a technological field is usually required for most entry-level positions. For more advanced positions, however, you'll often need a master's degree. It's also helpful to have at least some level of experience in quality control, as this should give you an edge over other candidates.

What should be the goal for quality improvement? ›

And the primary goal of quality improvement is to improve outcomes. CDC also describes quality improvement as one component of the performance management system, which has three defining characteristics: It uses data for decisions to improve policies, programs, and outcomes. It manages change.

What is your goal as a QA engineer? ›

The main goal of QA engineers is to prevent defects. Quality Control specialists, in their turn, analyze the test results and find mistakes. They are responsible for identifying and eliminating defects in a product (or, in other words, these engineers make sure that developers get the results they expect).

What is a smart goal in quality? ›

All quality objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART), and they should have relevance at all levels of the company, meaning that each employee should understand how their job supports meeting the quality objectives; •

How do you write quality goals? ›

In order to write quality goals and objectives, you must be clear about the difference.
Objectives Should Tell:
  1. What are you going to do to accomplish your goal/s?
  2. Be stated in action terms: increase, decrease, etc.
  3. Define the population to be served.
  4. Be measurable and include a timeline.
16 May 2018

What are some smart goals for work? ›

SMART Goals - Examples
  • Overcome Your Fear of Presenting. I will build my confidence to deliver presentations so I can do so with less anxiety. ...
  • Be a Better Coach. I will improve my coaching skills. ...
  • Build Your Network. ...
  • Improving Productivity. ...
  • Become a Leader. ...
  • Be a Strategic Thinker.

What are 4 strategies to improve quality management? ›

5 Strategies to Improve Your Approach to Quality Management
  • 1) Build a company culture that emphasizes quality improvement. ...
  • 2) Design a robust training program. ...
  • 3) Develop a detailed quality inspection program. ...
  • 4) Ensure that equipment is regularly maintained. ...
  • 5) Schedule periodic internal audits.
3 Mar 2017

What makes a good QA lead? ›

QA Lead should never forget about who their end-user is and what they need. When you know why a certain feature is being used, you can make better decisions about what to test. That's why it is important that QA Lead always listens to the feedback received from customers and tries to advocate for it.

What are QA roles and responsibilities? ›

What does a Quality Assurance Engineer do? A QA engineer creates tests that identify issues with software before a product launch. These tests entail other tasks such as developing and running new tests and reporting their results to stakeholders, who will collaborate to fix program bugs or problems.

What are your career goals Where do you see yourself in 5 years? ›

In five years, I want to complete the internal training program for my position. I've read about it on your website, and I think it's a fabulous program. Not only would I get all the training for my role, but I would be on the fast track to becoming a project manager. That's my top career goal.

What is SMART in a quality improvement? ›

A SMART objective is one that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

What are measurable goals examples? ›

Goal: I will target my lowest class average in order to raise my overall GPA. Specific: I want to improve my overall GPA so I can apply for new scholarships next semester. Measurable: I will earn a B or better on my MAT 101 midterm exam.

How do you set SMART goals? ›

First consider what you want to achieve, and then commit to it. Set SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) goals that motivate you and write them down to make them feel tangible. Then plan the steps you must take to realize your goal, and cross off each one as you work through them.

What are the 7 smarter goals? ›

In George Doran's original article, his acronym stood for specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-related. Then I did various comparisons online and found that the most common version of S.M.A.R.T. nowadays stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.

What should I write in my goals? ›

There are many variations of what SMART stands for, but the essence is this – goals should be:
  1. Specific.
  2. Measurable.
  3. Attainable.
  4. Relevant.
  5. Time Bound.


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