A Look Inside The Quality Engineering Team At Appian
Want to know what it’s like to work on the Quality Engineering team at Appian? We asked Quality Engineering Manager, Diana Chávez to share her insights about the work, the culture, and why right now is the best time to join the team.
Meet Diana Chávez, Quality Engineering Manager
- Joined the Appian team in 2009
- Location: HQ
What does a Quality Engineer at Appian do?
Quality Engineers (QE) at Appian make sure that Appian delivers the highest quality product to customers as safely and quickly as possible. Interestingly, we actually use our own product internally as well, so we constantly release new Appian versions to ourselves first. We don’t let customers use new Appian versions until we’ve used them first.
If I were to explain it to a five year old, I like to use the analogy of playing with LEGO. If you’re playing with LEGO and you have an idea of what you want to build, a Quality Engineer would help you by thinking through all the ways your new toy would be used and making sure it did not fall apart when used that way. We want to help make sure it doesn’t fall down now or in the future. And if it does fall down, we make sure we learn why, to make sure we don’t make that mistake again.
Essentially, we help build features to ensure the right outcome for our customers.
My role as a manager and how I support the growth of our QE team members
As a manager, I’m mostly responsible for the growth of the Quality Engineers in my team. I match their work with their skills and interests while making sure they have the right knowledge and tools to be successful in their jobs.
For example, right now we’re in the midst of an initiative to help build the skillsets of Quality Engineers. We started by identifying what skills and knowledge every Full Stack Quality Engineer should have at minimum around performance, security, functionality, to mention a few. Right now we’re developing that material, and we’ve actually just released the first skillset!
In addition to some of our formal learning programs, our team members also learn from one another in multiple ways. These range from structured coaching to informal mentorships to Guilds and Chapters for Quality Engineers with similar interests and roles.
How we work
We typically work in project teams called “squads.” Every squad is made up of one Product Manager, one Squad Coach, Developers, and a Quality Engineer. As a QE manager, I’m responsible for the various teams that are part of my group. I provide career growth and technical guidance as we all work together toward the same mission.
Quality Engineers at Appian have to be expert collaborators and communicators. You work closely with your squad and Product Managers to do everything from thoroughly understanding the use cases, to clearly explaining bugs, and ultimately be the voice of the customer. Simultaneously, you coordinate with your Squad Coach and Product Manager to make sure the squad is prioritizing the right feature work and checking that all the right quality activities are planned.
As a manager and leader, I conduct many interviews and a lot of candidates ask about the developer/QE relationship. At other companies, the experience can be quite adversarial: a QE will say “it’s a bug” and developers will tend to push back before accepting it, which can create an awkward working relationship.
But here at Appian, it’s quite the opposite. If a QE says “hey, there’s a bug,” the developers want to address it and find solutions. Everyone here owns quality. Much more team energy is spent agreeing on the right quality activities and focus than disagreeing over quality opinions.
Our team culture
QE’s are embedded in individual squads, which means that only small groups of QEs work together on a daily basis. So we make sure that we also spend time with each other outside of our individual teams as a larger unit.
Since being remote due to the pandemic, QEs regularly get together virtually to celebrate birthdays, announce anniversaries, and share other life updates. We also use this as a time and space for people to share knowledge, ask questions, share a “geeky” quality joke of the week, or share an interesting blog.
We also have a big culture of self-improvement (and improvement in general). I think this comes naturally to us because QE’s are often the ones leading the discussion around what we need to do to improve. We hire talented people that never settle. They’re always going the extra mile whether it’s within their team or helping improve Appian as a whole. This continuous improvement focus has embedded continuous improvement into Appian culture.
Like all Appian engineers, QEs are encouraged to leverage their creativity through innovation in off-squad projects outside of your normal product development focus.
This can look like a multitude of things. Sometimes it’s building an application that will allow us to manage our release operations better or understanding what it means to adopt the latest test automation framework in our system.
For example, right now two of my direct reports are building an internal application to nominate people for two of our recognition programs — the Pillar Awards and Impact Awards.
Another one of my team members is a board member of AppianPride (our LGBTQ+ employee-led affinity group) to help organize events, keep folks informed, and support recruiting efforts.
As you can see, the work we do goes beyond our external customers. We’re also making an impact on our people and culture programs too so that Appian can become a better place to work for everyone!
Why you should join the Quality Engineering team
We’re growing! When I joined the QE team in 2012 there were six people. Today we have over 62 QEs on the team. During this growth period and even when we moved to remote work, we haven’t lost any of the culture. We’re still a team that works together and collaborates a lot. We hire very talented people who want to go above and beyond and want to help others and do what’s best for their team, department, and Appian.
And if there’s one thing you should know, it's that Appian has a great culture. Not just within the QE or Engineering department but the entire company. They will always put people first. Work-life balance is always taken into consideration. And honestly, you’ll probably find your best friends here! It’s very cool to see team dynamics whether it’s a happy hour or another social event, everyone is always welcome.
If this sounds like a team you’re interested in, you’re in luck as we’re hiring Quality Engineers! Check out our career opportunities on the careers page.