Talking Quality Assurance with John Austin


Special thanks to Monscierge team member, John Austin, for the insights contained in this post. With an extensive background in software testing and game, web, and graphic design, John brings valuable experience in building and using beautiful, useful, intuitive products.


What does “Quality Assurance” mean to you?

Broadly, QA is about setting quality expectations for your products, and ensuring that those expectations are delivered.  The methods are different per department, or per industry, but that’s the base.  That said, I personally see QA as an opportunity to make things better.  Meeting standards isn’t the end, it’s the beginning.  There’s always opportunity to build, grow, and improve, and I think every person at Monscierge embraces that ideal.  QA is a step to ensure that the foundation is solid.

What does your work day look like?

It varies greatly from day to day, but the majority of my time is spent with our software.  Our Development team is always building new products, or improving our existing products.  Each new piece needs to be tested and reviewed, which is where I come in.  Bugs, usability issues, anything that would negatively impact our customer’s experience must be identified, reported, corrected, and re-tested for quality.  That’s a big part of my day to day.

When you are testing products, what are you looking for in terms of design?

In terms of design, the first thing I look for is, “does the product meet the need(s) it was designed for?”  Pretty basic.  The second thing is, “does the product meet these needs well?”  It’s one thing to have a great tool.  It’s something completely different if that tool creates an experience you love.  Is it simple and intuitive to use?  Does it look great?  Does it feel great when you use it?  User experience is a big deal, especially when it comes to the guest experience at a hotel.  If the guest has a sense of effortlessness and empowerment, you’ve got a winner.  Trust, loyalty and gratitude will follow.

What advice would you give to someone searching for a technology provider?

Investigate how dedicated they are to the quality of their own product.  Not every company or team has a dedicated QA department, which is unfortunate.  That said, quality assurance is mandatory in one form or another, and it needs to happen internally.  Once in a while something will slip by, unnoticed.  Such is the nature of software development.  However, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of a product that hasn’t been thoroughly tested in the first place.  So, make sure they have systems in place to ensure you get the product you both expect.  If something ever does slip, you need to know that they are dedicated to correcting it.

Secondly, look for a company that is deeply invested in their own product.  It should be who they are, not a side project.  It defines them, and they’ll strive to make it better.  A saying that frequently flies around the office is, “we make products we want to use.”  That’s a big deal.  And if something slips through the cracks, it becomes top priority.

Third, look for a company that is as invested in you and your brand as they are their own.  In other words, find someone who has your needs in mind, long after the contracts have been signed.  They’ll take care of you because they want to, not because they have to.  Their level of support will far exceed what is simply mandatory.