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Building up Yaraku's QA Process from scratch

Grace started her career as a software developer in the Philippines but discovered her passion for QA when she moved to Japan. As Yaraku's first QA Engineer, not only does she perform the QA herself, Grace also designed Yaraku’s official QA process.

Photo of Mary Grygjeanne Grace Icay
Mary Grygjeanne Grace Icay

Grace was working as a software developer for a Japanese company based in the Philippines when they gave her the opportunity to relocate to Japan. There was only one catch, she’d be working as a QA Engineer and not a developer. Though she was initially apprehensive about making the switch, she decided to give it a go.

It turned out moving to QA was the right thing for her. She said, “When I was a developer, I would get frustrated easily when I couldn’t get the code right. But with QA, whenever I find bugs, I’m like ‘yay, I found a bug!’ So I think it is more suited to my personality.”

After a couple years in Japan, she decided to look for a new job, and came across Yaraku on TokyoDev. Yaraku initially caught her attention as they had a machine translation app, and she thought it would be fun to poke into the internals of it, as machine translation engines are something she uses all the time. But what really sold her on it was the culture of the company.

I really favoured the remote work setup. I personally like going to the office because I am a very social person, but at the same time, I also wanted the option of working from home. They also have what they called flexitime, where you can work at whatever time you’d like, as long as you cover eight hours per day.

Grace was hired as Yaraku’s first QA Engineer. One of her tasks was “exploratory testing”, where you explore an app as a first time user with a fresh set of eyes. That allowed her to discover several issues with the app, as it was built with their expert users in mind, sometimes overlooking areas where novices might struggle with the interface.

Another task was building up an end-to-end test suite using Playwright to automate the testing. She said, “I tried other testing frameworks, but I think Playwright is the easiest to use. We mainly use TypeScript, but it’s also very flexible to adapt to other programming languages.”

Beyond just performing tests, Grace’s job was also to build up the foundation for Yaraku’s QA process. She said, “When I joined, there was no specific person who had knowledge of QA to test the app. When I got into the company, I had to build a solid testing foundation, setting up documentation and standards.”

Because Yaraku gives me a lot of agency over the QA process, I am free to be creative in how I position the workflows. It challenged me to be more creative in how to approach the app or how to break things.The entire testing process requires a bunch of creativity, not just exploratory testing.

That Yaraku didn’t have someone dedicated to QA isn’t exceptional. Grace said, “Startups fail to consider that testing has its entire own domain. They tend to push all the testing on developers, instead of having them focus on developing products. There’s a standard certification, ISTQB, which outlines how you should test software. Because of this certification, QA typically has a different mindset when it comes to testing an application versus a developer.”

One tricky aspect about doing QA in Japan revolves around how app user behaviour and expectations can differ between Japan and the west, you need to adapt standards like ISTQB to the local market. She explained, “Japanese people have a different mindset of interacting with apps versus non-Japanese people. They’re used to seeing everything and taking in everything at the same time. People who live in Western countries like information to be more gradually presented. It’s important to keep an open mind, what Japanese users want for their apps might not be what non-Japanese users want for their apps.”

Grace recommends developers join Yaraku for developers who are self-driven, and want to make an impact. She said, “If you’d like to see how your contributions affect the product, I would definitely recommend Yaraku.”

She also appreciates how Yaraku values their employees’ time. She said, “For example, when there’s a family emergency, they say, ‘don’t think about work, just focus on your family right now’. They’re very understanding about that kind of stuff.”

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