Konstantin Klyagin, QAwerk: “due to ever-more complex software, we expect growth of software testing services"

That complex software includes advancing technologies like AI and ML. Integrating this tech into the workspace has significant potential for improving productivity. Still, software companies also consider the rising concerns around data privacy and cybersecurity.

Businesses and organizations that adopt continual learning models can stay ahead of emerging cyber threats. Using the best VPN and leading antivirus software is a good start. Collaborating with QA and software testing companies who prioritize data security is also recommended.

To understand the importance of a continuous training model in the age of emerging technologies, we spoke with Konstantin Klyagin, Founder and CEO of QAwerk – a quality assurance and software testing company helping businesses worldwide address and improve their digital products and software quality.

Tell us about the history of QAwerk. How did it all start?

Our story began with a strong passion for creating software that is not only functional but also secure. Quality assurance is the first step towards adopting healthier coding practices.

I'm an innate geek and first saw a computer at the age of 6. At 8, I wrote my first line of code. At 14, I released my first serious piece of software, Tornado BBS (Bulletin Board System). It was quite popular and had thousands of users during those pre-internet times.

I started a full-fledged tech career at 17, combining uni studies with open source and paid programming work. In my sophomore year, I released CenterICQ, an ICQ instant messaging client for Linux. It had a friendly text mode and a window-driven interface. It also supported Yahoo!, MSN, AIM, and IRC protocols. At that time, there were a few multi-protocol messaging clients for Linux, and none of them fully met my needs. Also, I wasn’t too fond of their ascetic interfaces. So, I developed my solution for instant communication.

Before founding my own company, I worked as a software developer, project manager, and tech journalist. I borrowed the best business practices from global teams and organizations.

The beginning of QAwerk traces back to 2005. That's when Redwerk, the parent software development agency, was founded in Zaporizhia, Ukraine.

As the founder, I accumulated valuable experience working across e-commerce, e-government, cybersecurity, e-learning, media & entertainment, and game dev. I was in tech and non-tech roles while I observed and analyzed industry practices. I noted the approaches that proved successful and the ones that needed improvement.

Recognizing the growing demand for specialized software quality services, I decided to establish a separate entity focused exclusively on software testing and security. That is how QAwerk was born.

Since then, QAwerk has become a trusted partner for many clients across North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. So far, we’ve tested 300+ projects. That includes US-based app Unfold, AI-driven SaaS platform Evolv, and Swiss VR health tech VirtaMed, just to name a few.

Can you introduce us to what you do? What are the main challenges you help navigate?

We are a Ukraine-based software testing and quality assurance agency. We offer services for SaaS, games, mobile, web2, and web3 products since 2015. Our primary mission is to help companies improve the quality and security of the tech products they are working on and ensure timely releases.

On cybersecurity, our expertise lies in conducting code reviews and penetration testing. Our code reviews consist of manual and automated checks. It's a well-known fact that outdated software poses serious security risks. Our code reviews allow businesses to identify deprecated or poorly maintained libraries. Libraries with known vulnerabilities, unused parts of code, and insecure methods, among other issues.

As for penetration testing, we combine the power of several vulnerability scanners with manual expertise. In web-based apps, we look for OWASP's top 10 vulnerabilities. For instance, SQL and other types of injections, security misconfiguration, and cross-site scripting. We prioritize all the exploits and share reliable ways to fix them.

In mobile solutions, we check if logs with sensitive information are cleared. We look for where sensitive data gets stored and how it's handled. We check on when the app is in the background and what crypto algorithms are getting used. We also check if third-party keyboards leak keystrokes or words, and so on.

Releasing successful tech products is a huge challenge. Lots of companies struggle with software quality assurance and security testing. Whether it's a lack of expertise in a specific area of quality assurance or the absence of a dedicated QA team, QAwerk can bridge that gap and provide the necessary support.

Besides discovering bugs and potential exploits, our experienced QA professionals help companies establish robust and highly effective QA workflows. We collaborate with companies to understand their specific challenges. Then we help develop customized testing strategies. Whether it's manual, automated, performance, or security testing, we use proven methodologies. That includes effective tools to ensure comprehensive coverage and accurate results.

QAwerk is also known for its high level of investment in the client's projects. We go beyond delivering test plans, test cases, and bug reports. We will genuinely share how we feel about this or that feature's implementation. We find ways to make it more user-friendly because our client's success translates into our own.

I believe if you have a product idea, shipping it to the market fast is not the only thing that matters. You must also do it well to win and keep your first users. That's where software testing comes into play. Businesses who understand it and invest early see both short- and long-term benefits.

In this way, companies can focus on their core software development processes. They can put all their efforts into developing killer features without worrying about their products' quality. Or about compromising the users’ data. Because they know it's in safe hands.

How do you stay up to date with the latest technologies and trends in the software testing industry? What are some of the most common challenges you face when testing software, and how do you overcome them?

The days when quality assurance and software testing was only about finding bugs and errors are already in the past. Nowadays, this industry is much wider. The massive changes in technology encourage us to keep up with these trends. There's no clear line between software development and testing. It’s about product ideas, predicting user behaviors, and new opportunities.

One trend that cannot get overlooked is the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). We expect a growing number of clients to integrate these technologies into their software products. Moreover, we recognize the potential of AI and ML in optimizing software testing workflows. As well as enhancing test creation and maintenance processes.

The rise of ML and AI presents various opportunities for the cybersecurity field too. We expect that vulnerability scanners will extend their range of automation capabilities. Also, we’ll likely see a ton of AI-powered solutions that allow automatic test case generation, threat modeling, anomaly detection, log data analysis, etc.

Additionally, we are enthusiastic about the prospects of web3 and the metaverse. The concept of decentralization gives back control of private data and assets to individuals. The increasing usage of web3 products will call for a greater demand for web3 testing. Our team is fully prepared to meet this demand.

We've already worked on several exciting metaverse projects. One of them was a partnership with Virtually Human Studio and Spectre Studios, Australia's leading web3 and XR companies. We helped them polish Human Park, their new web3 experience platform. All to ensure a smooth experience for early-access users. Also, to increase excitement around a full-fledged game release later.

How do you think the recent global events affected your field of work? Were there any new challenges?

Many Ukrainians didn't believe in the prospect of a full-scale invasion, and neither did we. Surely, we had a plan B, but we faced unprecedented challenges from day one. The 24th of February was a nerve-racking and excruciatingly horrifying day because we didn't know what to expect.

On the fourth day of the war, I sent a memo to all QAwerk teammates asking them to stay united and return to work. But only if they were in safe areas with electricity and an Internet connection. I told them we could cry, worry, and do nothing. Or, we try to keep our partnerships to survive as a business and continue contributing to our country's economy. They heard this, and on Monday 28th, 40 out of 70 teammates showed up for work. We reached 80% capacity in about a month, and in two months, we were fully operational again.

Now that the entire world has discovered Ukraine as a country of brave and resilient people, it's easier to get featured by global media outlets. Some foreign businesses deliberately look for Ukrainian IT vendors to hire them and support our economy in this way. IT remains one of the most flexible and stress-resistant industries in Ukraine. A significant part of the revenue it generates gets donated to nonprofits and volunteers. All to finance our defenders and crisis relief efforts.

At the same time, forging new partnerships is quite challenging. Many businesses are still misinformed about what's really happening in Ukraine. Or about how Ukrainian experts have adapted to those challenges.

As long as the war continues, there will be new roadblocks. But as long as you have a strong team, trusted relationships with clients, and react fast to the way events unfold, you'll make it through.

Our main goal of supporting the local economy and employing Ukrainian talents and innovation remains unwavering. That’s why we actively seek new opportunities in various verticals and markets. We aim to grow our presence in the industry.

What are some of the most important qualities that a software tester should have?

Qualified software testers can distinguish a great product from a failed one. They can make a tremendous impact on the success of the entire release. First, they should be passionate about testing and improving products. Testing is often repetitive, and passion for the work they do can keep them engaged and keep end users in mind.

​​A technical background will definitely be a plus, but what we value most is experience. QA engineers can do without a CS degree but need a solid understanding of a software development life cycle. They should have a good grasp of programming languages, testing frameworks, and various testing tools.

They need to know what types of testing to apply in different scenarios to detect bugs fast. This technical aptitude enables them to create profound test cases. It also helps them troubleshoot issues and collaborate with developers more effectively.

In addition to technical expertise, they should improve analytical thinking, attention to detail, and effective communication skills. That includes the ability to work effectively with other departments. The field of software development and testing is always evolving, with new technologies, methodologies, and tools emerging regularly. There're also new problems, so a curiosity-driven mindset is what makes a great tester.

These skills combined help testers ensure the quality and reliability of software products, contributing to their overall success.

As for pen testers, they are ethical hackers, so basically, they should be able to hack into things. That's also a combination of a highly technical background, critical mindset, experience, and social engineering considerations. They must be well-versed in white, gray, and black box testing.

How do you stay up-to-date with the latest developments in software testing and ensure that your testing skills remain relevant and effective over time?

We foster a culture of continuous learning within our company. QAwerkers regularly engage in self-paced learning and attend webinars, workshops, and industry conferences offline and online. They're able to stay updated with the latest trends and tools.

Industry publications and blogs are also a great way to stay updated about changes. I regularly follow reputable industry publications and online resources dedicated to software testing. We also actively publish interesting insights and research on QAwerk's blog.

Staying up-to-date in software testing requires a proactive and continuous approach to learning, networking, collaboration, research, and knowledge sharing.

In your opinion, what cybersecurity measures will become essential for organizations and individuals? How do you focus on the security of your data, and what measures do you take to keep it safe?

Strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, encryption, regular software updates, and employee education on cybersecurity will remain crucial for organizations and individuals. It's important to combine the power of automated tools. That includes vulnerability scanners, with the manual expertise of a skilled pen tester. One who will probe your system for loopholes like a real hacker would do. That's precisely why, besides regular code reviews and QA, we also provide pen testing services.

At QAwerk, we take data security seriously. We enforce strict access controls and use encryption for data at rest and in transit. We also conduct regular security audits to maintain the integrity of our systems. To stay ahead of emerging threats, we emphasize continuous learning and provide our team members with ongoing security training.

Can you provide insights into what you believe the future of your industry holds? Are there any emerging trends that you are currently observing?

Nowadays, we see a future where software testing and quality assurance services will continue to grow because of more complex software. We also consider the rising concerns around data privacy and cybersecurity.

The craze around ML and generative AI along with the growing number of products based on transformer language models, requires completely new skill sets. Such products offer features associated with natural language processing, image recognition, or recommendation systems. Software testers must understand the underlying algorithms and their limitations to write effective test cases.

Testing ML-powered solutions requires a combination of traditional testing with expertise in data generation, analysis, and model evaluation. We’re currently enhancing our team with data scientists and QA experts with experience in the ML industry. All so that we can help businesses prepare reliable test data sets for evaluating the quality of their ML models.

Another significant trend is the increasing focus on digital transformation for traditional businesses. It's opening up new possibilities for companies to optimize their operations, deliver better customer experiences, and drive growth.

Would you like to share what’s next for QAwerk?

Despite the challenges brought by Russia's invasion, we remain focused on the future and the growth opportunities that lie ahead. In the past 8 years, we've done and learned a lot about software testing. We're actively seeking partnerships with tech companies and businesses to help them build award-winning products loved by millions of happy users.

Unfold is a real-life testimony to how long-term investment in QA pays off in the future. In just two years of close cooperation with QAwerk, Unfold grew from an Android beta story maker to a multiplatform solution used by celebrities and big names like Warner Brothers, Prada, and Sony. It has over 10 million daily users and one billion monthly active users.

Also, as a company that specializes in professional QA, we've recently come up with a solution that makes testing Android apps easier and faster. It's called Android Bug Hunter.

It's a tool that combines all the essential features for manual UI testing. You can check the element alignment and overlay the app's screen with a mockup to see if the design implementation is accurate. You can pick colors to verify the correct palette and so much more.

We keep working on making Bug Hunter even more versatile. Recently, we've added the opportunity to do low-memory testing and check deep links. And, of course, we've made it free so that small Android teams who can't afford professional QA can still test their apps. Bug Hunter is very intuitive, so even non-techies like PMs or marketers can use it to report bugs. We'd be grateful if you help us improve it. Try it out, and get back to us with feedback.

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