Agency and Software QA: A Tale of Two Cities

“It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times, It Was The Age of Wisdom, It Was the Age of Foolishness…”

Like the omniscient narrator of Dicken’s “A Tale of Two Cities”, I stand between two cities, automation and manual QA, and can clearly see a revolution on the horizon. The dualities are evident. Change is imminent. And, fear is prevalent. Well, maybe things aren’t as dire as they were on the eve of the French Revolution, but we take things pretty seriously in the quality assurance world. That’s our job. Back to the story, let’s introduce the main players in this, my QA literary periodical.

It Was the Season of Darkness

Quality Assurance has long been associated with Application Development, both Enterprise and otherwise. However, as both the internet and society as we know it evolves, there is a growing demand for qualified individuals who can bridge the gap between modern technology and previously established test standards. The ISO 9000 family of quality management systems standards is the perfect example.

The Agency world, as I see it, is the antithesis of the traditional software development world. While work for an agency certainly has normalcy and process in place, it also requires that everyone involved be more flexible and capable of adapting new roles and responsibilities. There’s more room for creative freedom because the individual is as equally respected as the organization that employs them. Enter the Agency Quality Assurance Engineer. (AQA Engineer doesn’t really have a good ring to it, sounds too close to “aqua engineer”).

It Was the Season of Light

This type of environment defies a lot of the widely held expectations associated with your standard Quality Assurance engineer. You won’t be working on different releases/sprints/iterations of the same product, week in, week out. Hell, you won’t be working on the same 10 products each month. What you will be doing is cultivating and maintaining a culture of excellence through the testing of dozens of different products.The Agency QA Engineer, whether manual or automated, is a complex individual who not only has to maintain a personal level of standards for how they view testing in general, we’re also required to embrace the constant state of evolution, that which is, of course, Agency Development. Not only do we have to stay current on modern web-trends and technologies, we also have to document 99.9% of what we do on a daily basis. We have to be able to articulate our thoughts to all parties involved, be they technical or not.


As the web and web technologies evolve, more and more products are becoming available to better aid both Quality Assurance and Development professionals. More and more companies, are increasingly pushing towards a “Fully automated” platform/framework. Test Automation isn’t a new concept, it’s been around for decades. However, the modern iterations of Automation are in a constant state of evolution. Automation in general, isn’t manual QA or scripting, it’s programming. It’s writing code to handle testing that would normally be accomplished via manual means. So your average Automation Engineer, is, in essence, a Developer.

However, it should be worth noting that the belief in 100% automation as a cure-all, is a terrible misconception. Until the rise of both Skynet and TRUE Artificial Intelligence (which we hopefully never see), no application will ever be as good as the human using it.Ultimately, the job of the Agency QA Engineer is to be a final line of defense against the scrutiny of the outside world. We pride ourselves on testing every single function within your project. It brings us happiness to know that we spent 40+ hours testing an application or project, only to be rewarded with a minimal level of fairly simple bugs. Agency Quality Assurance engineers bring a higher level of application development to the Agency World. I think Charles Dickens said it best with “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”