STARWEST 2023 Concurrent Session : Building a QA Department With a New Vendor in a New Management Role


Wednesday, October 4, 2023 - 2:45pm to 3:45pm

Building a QA Department With a New Vendor in a New Management Role

According to a recent study, only about 40% of new tech leaders receive formal training when they become a boss for the first time. The rest are forced to get scrappy to quickly equip themselves with new skills, techniques, and mindsets to effectively transition into their new roles. About seven years ago, Neeta Sonnakul elected to start at CAQH and was the only QA automation staff member, and eventually built a vast QA team and currently heads the department. The organization had taken delivery of several poor-quality software releases of our flagship product from our development partner, hence switched development partners. In addition to stabilizing the application portfolio, heading a new team in a newly acquired managerial role was challenging and interesting. Along the way, Neeta and the team had to eliminate redundant processes, work towards changing mindsets in a new agile development shop, and prove the new model is the answer to quality product delivery. The takeaways from Neeta's journey are many, and she will cover that tipping point that every organization goes through when trying to transition their vendor partners, how to overcome attrition, the secret tip that helped her build the team and trust, challenges of change in management, how the team handled insecurities, doubts, fears, and ultimately succeeded. This session will cover the gap, providing tactical techniques and resources for new technical leaders.

Council for Affordable & Quality Health

Neeta Sonnakul has about 25 years of experience in Information Technology. First few years in development, then quality assurance experience working in various roles for several employers. She has built and led QA teams for companies such as Verizon Wireless, REI, DefyWire to name a few. She has built robust automation frameworks at organizations with manual testing tools and helped with transformation and the change in mindset. She built and led an agile automation testing team through a SAFe transformation for CAQH. She is heading the QA department in an Associate Director of Quality Assurance role at the Council of Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQH) which is a D.C. based not-for-profit organization.