Important Lessons from QA

These are from when I was working as a QA (quality assurance) engineer around 2000 at Wavexpress.

The most important checks are the most basic. Our company created a big program for signing up for our beta program via a telephone number. I was not on this project and it was most certainly “not my job”, but I went and called the phone number on the flyer. It hadn’t been set up! I told the right people and the problem was fixed quickly. But the entire program would have been a bust AND given the company a black eye had I not checked the basics.

There was this nice guy who stayed late every Friday to swap tapes for the backup system. I liked him and wondered if the system actually worked so I put a file on my computer, waited 2 weeks, “accidentally” deleted it and asked IT for help. A day goes by and they hadn’t recovered my file so I check in. Another day. And a third. Finally, they admit to me that they had checked all the tapes and they were all blank! There were no backups at our software company! The most important checks are the most basic!

It is vital to end every meeting with an action plan. At the end of every meeting, I would always ask two simple questions, “Can I try to summarize what we talked about? [say it]” and “Ok, so what is the plan?” This was a tip I learned from some business guide. At first I was embarrassed to ask all these professionals such silly questions. If we’re leaving the meeting, “of course” we have a plan. But more often than not, (yes, like 60% of the time!) that final conversation ends up being the most important part of the meeting! That question has cleared up innumerable vagueries and misinterpretations since I started using it in 2000! I think this was the guide I read! Though I neglected to cited the original source!

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