13 years ago I left my job to start PLUS QA, with the goal to democratize Quality Assurance testing as a service to digital agencies and startups. The past year has been challenging for us but despite the world pandemic, the social justice events, and the fire we had to endure on the West Coast, our team has shown courage and resilience. Meanwhile, we had to quickly adapt and be creative to continue effectively working with our team and with our clients. Here are a few things that we did to reach our goals in the past year.
2020 was off to a strong start for us at PLUS QA, as we grew to 80+ people and continued gaining new clients early in the year. That was until March, when the pandemic had a negative impact on some of our clients and therefore we had to reduce the size of our team over the month of April.
We quickly decided to ask our entire team to work remotely early during the pandemic, prior to the when the lockdown was announced. Our main goal was not to put anyone at risk in our office. Although sending our entire team to work from home was not something we could have imagined a few weeks before that, we worked with our Management team and IT Administrator to come up with a work-from-home plan and distribute dozens of test machines and hundreds of mobile devices to our team within 48 hours. Within a few weeks, our dev team created a system where we could not only check-in and checkout but also reserve testing devices very quickly.
Staying connected while working apart
We’ve always promoted an open office, even going so far as to tear down walls when we remodeled our current office building. It’s been a challenge to maintain the same level of connection while all working remotely, but we’ve adapted to the times.
From creating personalized birthday videos to delivering care packages, we’ve tried to find creative ways to connect with each other. Our virtual events have allowed us to collaborate in a fun, laidback setting, while also getting to know people on other teams. For our 2020 Holiday Party, we worked with an Airbnb Online Experience to host a virtual escape room. We’ve also created our own trivia nights, and have been encouraging our teams to plan events more regularly.
We recently received our MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) certification from the NMSDC (National Minority Supplier Development Council). NMSDC is the largest and most prominent certification organization for minority-owned businesses with a thorough certification process and strict guidelines. This certification has never been more relevant as the nation turns its focus on the inequity many people of color face in America. Companies at all levels are seeing the importance of doing business with certified MBEs. If you’d like to learn more, check out the most recent post written by Audrey, our Partner at PLUS QA.
Diversity has always been important to us ever since PLUS QA was founded almost 13 years ago – including diversity among race, ethnicity, gender identities, sexual orientation, disabilities, and backgrounds. Last year we started having open discussions about how we could continue to challenge ourselves to increase our diversity among employees, especially improving our ratio of women employees.
Our employees have been incredibly helpful for this. That has resulted in 5 out of the 9 people we hired in the last 4 months being women or non-binary. We are also sponsoring Portland Women in Tech (PDXWIT). PDXWIT exists to empower those who identify as women, non-binary and underrepresented people to join and stay in tech, which aligns perfectly with our goals.
Onboarding testers with disabilities
At the beginning of 2020, we partnered with the Oregon Commission for the Blind to hire testers with disabilities. This allows us to test software from the perspective of people who are in the most need of these issues to be addressed. This not only benefits users, but our clients as well.
As Abdul, an Accessibility Test Lead, so eloquently said, “I believe that people with disabilities are uniquely qualified for a career in Quality Assurance testing. We offer perspectives that can inform a more holistic understanding of what makes for a functional app, a perspective that benefits abled and disabled alike.”
In 2021 we are continuing to expand our accessibility team. If this is a field that interests you, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
Presenting at an international QA conference
This year, I had the opportunity to present with industry leaders virtually for the Paris Testing Conference. I focused on accessibility testing, as we have been committed to improving digital accessibility since 2015. You can visit paristestconf.com/edition-2020/ to access the presentation and learn more about accessibility in QA testing.
Despite all the challenges that 2020 brought to us, we have maintained strong relationships with our clients and the strength of our team at PLUS QA. As a company, we have quickly been able to adapt and find technological solutions to provide the same access tools to our team. In addition to that, we have continued to diversify our team and we are happy to be a minority-owned company. We are looking forward to seeing what the next years will bring to PLUS QA.