Categories
Critical Thinking Marketing Mobile Testing Software Testing

That elusive Test Strategy

I recently was asked about recommendations for learning about test strategies. Here are my sample strategies:

a strategy doesn’t have to be a big giant document. It starts as an idea in your head and you have to get other people on board as part of that strategy. So you need to share some knowledge in some format to help share your idea. This blog is about how I’d go about developing a new test strategy in a new team.

History of the term

First let’s take some time to understand this term; strategy. Historically the word strategy is associated with war and battle:

Quote: Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without Strategy is the noise before the defeat - Sun Tzu
https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/287878601154737781/

Strategy is to help you win or achieve some goal. Many people talk about their tactics when they are thinking of their strategy. Tactics are your how. They aren’t your whole strategy.

A tactic is a conceptual action or short series of actions with the aim of achieving of a short-term goal. This action can be implemented as one or more specific tasks.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tactic_(method)

Book: I have a strategy (No you don’t)

This book helped me understand the term, “Strategy” in a visual and fun way.

https://www.amazon.com.au/Have-Strategy-You-Dont-Illustrated/dp/1118484207

According to this book a strategy has 4 parts:

  • A purpose
  • A distinct, measurable goal
  • A plan
  • A sequence of actions or tactics

Start with a purpose

If I was dumped into a new team tomorrow and asked to develop a test strategy, I’d start by interviewing/surveying a few people. Depending on the size of the team and who I was working with it could be an online survey or a casual chat over a coffee. I’d ask something along the following lines:

  • What does quality mean to you?
  • What are common problems in the testing process here?
  • If you could fix just one thing about our quality, what would it be?

Now different people are going to answer this differently. Developers might say test code coverage, easily maintainable code and easy deployments make a high quality product. Your project manager might say happy customers. Testers might say less bugs found in the test phase.

Develop a goal

Once I’ve surveyed enough people (5 people is a good enough number for most user research interviews), I’ll work on constructing a goal. it might be;

  • improve our continuous integration build times
  • increase our test coverage
  • reduce the amount of negative customer feedback

Make sure it is measurable. You could use SMART or OKR goal formats.

https://www.toolshero.com/personal-development/smart-goals/
https://blog.weekdone.com/introduction-okr-objectives-key-results/

Develop a plan

Now what are some things I or the team could do to achieve our goals? We could create tasks during our sprint to help us work towards our goal. Once you’ve achieved something you survey those original interviewers to see if the perceived quality has actually improved.

Measure your progress

Measure the improvements in quality of your product. For my team we are tracking the average app store ratings, crash rates and engagement with in app features to see if they are actually useful. https://bughuntersam.com/metrics-and-quality/

Risks and Gaps

A Test Strategy could also have a section about risks or gaps in this approach. For example things like performance testing and security testing might not be included. Having a brief explainer why these aren’t part of your strategy can be useful for explaining the context and scope.

UI Automation Visual Risk Framework

if you are working on improving the UI Test automation coverage you can use this visual risk based framework to help focus on where to start and what to automate first and measure progress against it as part of your strategy.

https://bughuntersam.com/visual-risk-ui-automation-framework/

Conclusion

I’m more comfortable with the term marketing strategy over test strategy because it’s easier to measure your impact and easier to come up with concrete goals. Software testing isn’t as tangible as many other parts of the business process and can be hard to measure.

Can your strategy be summarised by this comic:

test all the things
automate all/some things

What resources have helped you understand test strategies? I’d love to check them out.

Categories
Craft Beer Critical Thinking Finances Job hunting Marketing mental health mindfulness Software Testing Technology

Buddha in Testing: Chapter 5

At the end of Buddha in Testing, Pradeep asks the reader to co-author the next chapter with him. So this blog post is my attempt at writing part of Chapter 5 of this book:

What is the chaos that surrounds you in testing?

Write now, during the pandemic a lot of people have been made redundant and are struggling to find work. I’m lucky enough that my day job isn’t all that chaotic, which is a good thing. The mobile app I’m working on is doing pretty well. I wouldn’t want to be dealing with a stressful work load on top of everything else.

What is my contribution?

I put together a software testers career cheatsheet to help anyone whose struggling to find work right now. After having career coaching sessions with a bunch of people, a few themes came to light. I got the inspiration to do a video series on those points. I found out it makes for great marketing content.

What situations have put you out of calmness?

Last weekend I recorded 7 career tip videos in one weekend. I was burnt out by Monday and a blubbery, teary mess. I couldn’t focus on work and took the day off to mentally recharge. I told twitter I was out of spoons.

How did you bring peace?

Walking around the city, listening to podcasts and shopping in second hand clothes stores was how I recharged. I even had a beer in a sports bar at lunch and watched some cricket (England vs West Indies) :

What answers are you searching for?

Satisfaction in life. I’m over software testing. I’m starting a graduate diploma in financial advice next week because I have an idea to disrupt the retirement funds industry here in Australia. Making retirement funds easier is something I can get behind.

How will you recognise the peace?

I enjoy adding value to other people. It’s a huge driver to most of what I do. I miss the constant interaction with people from my shop assistant days. If money/labour wasn’t a drawback I’d prefer to work in a supermarket over most of the testing roles I’ve had. With my history of depression, I don’t think I’d ever achieve peace but I can be more content with life.

I’m now outta steam

I could continue answering the questions but I think I’m going to leave it there. How would you answer some of these questions?

Categories
Marketing Technology

Marketing; measuring your impact

In a previous marketing blog post; I talk about how eyeballs/views are king. This blog post is a follow up and is a deep dive into how you can measure your impact. Using real life examples from my own marketing adventures.

WordPress + Jetpack Analytics

I published a blog post full of Software Testing career tips on the 25th of June. Here’s the JetPack Analytics (a free wordPress plugin) of how many views I’ve had of that blog post since it was published:

This blog post has been viewed 1,321 times since it was published 1 month ago.

Video + LinkedIn

After chatting to people via my career coaching sessions, a few themes kept coming up. I decided to turn these themes into a video series and I’ve been posting daily video career tips to LinkedIn.

Yesterday I publish part 10 and in one day it has been viewed over 2,500 times with 134 reactions, 16 shares and 10 comments. Here’s some of the insights LinkedIn Analytics provides:

I can also see the companies, roles and locations of the people who viewed my post. 673 were Software Testers, 243 were from Sydney and India is my second biggest audience.

Since I’ve started posting daily videos, the numbers of people who have viewed my profile has also increased, I’m now getting around 240 views a day:

Youtube + Analytics

I’ve also posted all of those videos on Youtube. Now they aren’t receiving as many views compared to LinkedIn but Youtube is a longer game.

My Interview with Manoj Kumar from my last marketing blog post has been viewed 342 times:

Apparently it has a 10% click through rate
Most people don’t watch all the way through, 91.5% of people watch less than 5 minutes, infact only a tiny percent finish the video
I got 7 new subscribers from that video
You can also see Audience metrics like Age and Location. I don’t trust this 100% male viewers number though…

How do you measure up?

What else are you tracking as part of your marketing adventures? I’ve found video + blog + regular posts to LinkedIn has increased my overall engagement.

Categories
Critical Thinking Job hunting Marketing Software Testing Technology

Technical tips for Software Testers

My software testing career tips series on Youtube is going well. So well in fact that I need to break out and collect the 4 part mini series on technical skills into it’s own blog post here.

Part 1: learn command line

Nothing will impress you colleagues more than your technical prowess with the command line, even if all your doing is checking your email. Here’s all of the references in the video:

You should focus on learning tools and technology that help you collaborate with the developers on your team. Here’s all of the references in the video:

Part 3: The Technical profile

Having a GitHub profile is key to establishing your tech credibility. Here’s all of the references in the video:

Part 4: Manual vs Automation

I avoid these terms in my profile like the plague and as an Industry we should drop these terms. Here’s all of the references in the video:

What are your tips for testers when it comes to improving their technical skills?

Categories
Conferences Marketing Software Testing Technology

My Social Media Marketing Strategy

On Sunday I’ll be Interviewing Manoj Kumar who’s a Principal Consultant at ThoughtWorks & a Selenium Conf Organiser. And I was chatting to Manoj about my marketing strategy as a tester. I’ve been fascinated about marketing (more than learning about test automation tools) and this blog post is a reflection on that strategy.

Marketing is a numbers game

In marketing, click through rates, conversion rates and eyeballs are king. You can either increase your eyeballs/views or increase the conversion rate.

E.G. You are promoting a free event, if you send an email to 100 people and 5 people sign up, your conversion rate is 5% for that campaign. It’s alot easier to increase the number of emails sent than the conversions/click through rates.

You could send that same email to 100 more people or send follow up emails to the people who opened the email but didn’t register to increase conversions. Or maybe the subject line didn’t get people’s attention?

Anyway, there’s tons of testing and iterating that can be applied to a marketing campaign.

What is your goal?

Have a think of what you’d like to achieve with your marketing campagin before starting out. I’ve structured my LinkedIn to get more views of my blog. Nearly everything I do on LinkedIn is to increase the web traffic to my blog.

My goal is to get more views/traffic on my blog

You might want to increase ticket sales for a conference, increase sign up rates for an event, etc. My secondry goal is to grow my number of followers on YouTube/Twitch.

How will you measure your goal?

I use analytics on wordpress to measure sources of web traffic. First let me tell you about my template messages and then I’ll explain how I use analytics to measure it.

Here are my LinkedIn template messages

New Connection

Hi {Insert_First_Name},

Thanks for connecting. What are some of the challenges facing you these days?

You might enjoy reading my blog on metrics and quality: https://bughuntersam.com/metrics-and-quality/ 

Is there anything I can help you with?

Regards,

Sam

They Ask for Work/Career Advice

Unfortunately it’s hard for me to refer someone who I’ve never worked with personally. I also don’t know what type of team would suit you.

Here’s my 6 step software testers career cheatsheet: https://bughuntersam.com/my-testing-career-cheatsheet/

Networking is king. I’ve gotten my last 3 job offers from networking, blogging and speaking at Meetup events.

Specific Campaign

I’ve sent the following template message to over 100 people who have QA Engineer in their title, are based in India and I’m connected to (I have up to 240 connections that meet this criteria):

Hi {Insert_First_Name},

How are you? Are you aware of the Selenium Conference in India? https://seleniumconf.in/

I’ll be interviewing Manoj Kumar, one of the organisers at 7am IST this Sunday https://www.meetup.com/Sydney-Testers/events/271598548/

If that’s too early for you the interview will be up on youtube 24 hours after the live event.

Regards,

Sam

I’ve had over 30 people respond to that last message directly over night, that’s a 30% response rate of people who’ve atleast clicked on the auto generated response message, “Thanks”.

Analytics

Using wordpress; Jetpack paid services, I can track views, where they come from and what people look at:

Yesterday I had 286 Views from 141 Visitors which is my second best performing day over the last month for web traffic.

Yesterday I had 286 Views from 141 Visitors which is my second best performing day over the last month for web traffic.

Out of those 286 Views, 11 were on my Metrics and Quality blog, so they were probably from my New_Connections template message.

173 Views were from India (Normally most of my traffic comes from Australia) and 16 of those views came from LinkedIn. This would indicate that my blog was shared outside of my marketing efforts.

Here’s a more regular day

As a comparison, here’s a more regular web traffic day for my blog:

Newer published blogs are the most viewed (especially if I’ve shared them), Most of my traffic comes from LinkedIn and most of my traffic is from Australia, because that’s my biggest area of influence.

I can also keep an eye on my engagement in LinkedIn too, this helps me to understand if the content I’m sharing is resonating with people:

Is this useful?

Would you try/test anything from this blog post? What are your views on marketing?

Categories
Marketing

Personal Branding: The Business Card

I had my second iteration of my business cards turn up today. I’m extremely pleased with how they turned out. The first iteration is the white one at the top, it’s functional but plain. The second iteration is 80% recycled paper and is more on brand. This blog post is a reflection on all of the feedback that went into my kraft paper business card:

First Design

First business card

Outsourcing the design

I used fivver to get a personal logo. The first time I just needed something quick. I gave someone a few sketches and links to images on the internet. I said I wanted a bug like this example:

They actually just copy pasted that same bug onto the logo, which was inbreach of copywrite. I find with getting freelancers, you get what you pay for. If you pay someone from fiverr $10-$30 for a quick job, you’ll get the minimum effort needed to get the job done.

On my second logo redesigned, I had a better idea of what I wanted and I wasn’t in a rush. I actually paid someone $250 USD instead of $25 USD for the logo and got something I was more pleased with.

Second logo

Getting Feedback

I reached out to my awesome marketing mentor, Edward Zia for feedback on the initial design. He recommended adding my qualifications. I also made a few other tweaks myself using Adobe Illustrator. It’s worth asking your mentors for what they think.

Getting business cards designed

I also paid someone else on Fiverr $100 USD to design me 3 different business cards design. My first one I just hacked together on Vistaprint just to get something functional. They gave me a few different designs to choose from. Like this one:

Printing

My first card I just printed with vistaprint. There’s nothing wrong with this service but they don’t print on Kraft Paper in Australia and I wanted to support a local business. I met Gareth Tice in a pub one day who works for a local printing company; SKS Printing. I asked him to generate a quote for printing on recycled card. SKS has been an awesome company to work with and I’m super pleased with how my cards have turned out.

Personal Branding is an investment

It’s worth investing in your own branding and supporting local businesses where you can. Do you have a business card or personal branding story? Let me know in the comments below.

Categories
Marketing Software Testing

70 days into #100DaysOfLinkedIn

Wow, I’m two thirds of the way through my #100DaysOfLinkedIn marketing campaign. Here is an update of how I’ve adapted and grown over that time. You can read up on the launch of the campaign and a halfway through update too.

2200 connections

Before starting this campaign, I had 1400 connections. I’ve now see this grow to over 2200 at the time of writing this blog. I’ve written to every single one of those 800 new connections. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. I’m now up to my third version of a template message. Here it is:

Hi ,

How are you? Thanks for connecting. What are some of the challenges facing you these days?

You might enjoy reading my blog on Soap Opera Testing:
https://bughuntersam.com/soap-opera-testing/

Is there anything I can help you with?

Regards,

Sam

It’s short and sweet. Most people don’t respond but I’ve been able to organise a few key meetings with this approach, organise a few testers Meetup events and score a job with a startup.

Reconnecting with Sydney testers

I have around 200-500 QA/Testing professionals based in Sydney in my network. I’ve been reconnecting with them to see what events they are interested in. Here is my template message reaching out to these people:

Hi ,

Have you been to a Sydney Testers event recently? We’ve got a few events lined up that might interest you:

API Testing at ING on the 4th of April https://www.meetup.com/Sydney-Testers/events/259748843/

Performance Testing at the Rockend in St Leonards on the 9th of May

https://www.meetup.com/Sydney-Testers/events/259722603/

I’d greatly appreciate it if you could share those events with any colleagues who would be interested.

If you can’t make it on the day, I will be streaming these meetups through www.twitch.tv/BugHunterSam

What other events would you like to see?

Regards,

Sam

Avoiding Automation

I don’t generally automate these messages because that is against LinkedIn’s terms and conditions. I actually have a Google doc full of these template messages that I copy and paste into LinkedIn and add the person’s name at the start.

5000 connections?

Can I get to 5000 connections? Maybe not by the time I finish this campaign but I will continue to use the techniques learned from this campaign after I finish. If I get to over 5000 connections I will become the most connected software tester that I know.

Categories
Marketing

Going from I to You in marketing

I started a #100DaysOfLinkedIn Marketing Campaign 45 days ago. The original goal was to see if I could message every single one of my connections that I’ve never spoken to and to see if I could add value. It’s actually morphed a bit since then. One of the biggest things I’ve changed is changing my wording from I to you.

What do I mean?

When I started this campaign my template message for new connections was very I focused. I used “I” a lot. I spoke about what I was doing and what my passions are. Look, I’m even doing it now. Where as now, I try to avoid using that word and focus on YOU. How can I help YOU? What are YOUR challenges?

Here is my new template message for new connections:

Hi {NAME},

How are you? Thanks for sending the connection request recently. What are some of the challenges facing you these days?

You might enjoy reading some of my blogs:
https://bughuntersam.com/soap-opera-testing/
https://bughuntersam.com/visual-risk-ui-automation-framework/
https://bughuntersam.com/becoming-more-technical/

Have you done any formal training lately? If so, can you help me with some market research by filling in this survey?
https://goo.gl/forms/mzRBmMIuqBxo3kEv1

You might also like to check out my twitch channel, www.twitch.tv/BugHunterSam . I stream live exploratory testing and invite guests from all over the world to join me.

Is there anything I can help you with?
Regards,
Sam

There’s three new goals with this new template, drive traffic to my blog, collect market research on training and to find people who are interested in coming on my twitch channel. It is 100% pure marketing, there’s nothing salesy about this message.

Looking for a job

If they then turn around and ask, “I’m looking for work, can you help me?” I have a canned response of my general career advice:

Do you mind if I give you my general career advice?


Where are you getting stuck in the job application process? Do you have a good CV? You can check out my CV’s for inspiration:
https://bughuntersam.com/evolution-of-my-cv/

Unfortunately I don’t have time to review CV’s myself, I recommend fiverr if you are on a budget.
https://www.fiverr.com/search/gigs?query=cv%20review

Do you go to networking events? We’ve had huge successes with the Sydney Testers meetup connecting companies and job seekers.
https://www.meetup.com/Sydney-Testers

Do you know what you want out of your next job? It can be useful to reflect on this. I last reflected on my career here:
https://bughuntersam.com/next-career-move/

If you need more advice I’d recommend approaching a career coach who has more expertise in this area than me. I’ve partnered with Amy Smith from Aligned Tribe and she has a FREE career program webinar here:
http://bit.ly/fasttrackmycareer

This is starting to get a little salesy, but I’m not pushing my own services. I’d prefer they reach out to a career coach who I’ve partnered with.

Most People don’t read/respond

For example, when I sign my first reach out with:

Regards,

Sam

They always start their response with something like Thanks Samantha/Hi Samantha. It’s safe to assume most people don’t read to comprehend. Or take time to respond. The three to four message response with one sentence per response is really annoying.

Most people don’t respond at all even when you send them a message, that’s fine too. People are busy. I want them to know that they can reach out to me if they think I can help them with something. That first message helps build this even if it’s a canned message.

Continuing the growth

I’ve seen my number of connections go from 1400 to 1676 in 45 days. Every new connection has received a message. That’s on average 6 connections a day. I usually save up the connections for a few days, approve everyone and message all of the new connections in one fell swoop.

Categories
Marketing

Awesome Marketing with Edward Zia

Today I had the opportunity to participate in Edward’s Awesome marketing course.

It was a full day workshop with 15 people. The energy was high and the conversations were awesome. A small workshop like this is great for networking and learning from a bunch of key influencers who are struggling with similar problems in growing their businesses.

Sketch notes

I enjoy doing sketch notes for conferences. It’s a great way to network with speakers, helps me to remain in the moment and solidifies my own learning. You can read more about sketch noting here. Here are mine for today’s training course:

DISC

When thinking about what type of pitch you need to help with your sales it might be worth thinking about people in terms of DISC. You would have a different approach of selling for different people.

  • Director – they are often the boss of the company, their time is precious. If you don’t solve their problem in 5 minutes you better get out of their office
  • Influencer – these are your key people of influence, maybe they are the marketing manager and care about perception and value.
  • Steadiness – this is the quiet thinker. They might be the head of engineering. They rarely make mistakes with how they talk.
  • Compliance – this person works within the rules. They might be the auditor who wants to ensure all of the checks and processes are being followed correctly.

At the end of the day this is a mental model that helps make sense of the world. It isn’t perfect but how you sell to a director should be different to how you sell to a thinker.

Daily outcomes

You should set up daily goals that help your business grow. They might be

  • 10 phone calls before 10am
  • 15 messages on LinkedIn
  • 2 shares of good content
  • 1 blog or video post

These can then build up to weekly or monthly goals like

  • Get to 1 networking event a week
  • Speak at a conference
  • Get 1 piece of content shared by an industry leader
  • Do a podcast

How do you grow?

What do you do to grow your online community? Since I started my #100daysOfLinkedIn marketing campaign, I’ve seen my connections on LinkedIn grow from 1400 people to 1649 and I’m only 30 days in. Today’s course was a similar vibe to this marketing course that I did last year which was run by Zambesi.

Categories
Marketing Meetup Software Testing

Orders of Communication

Have you ever wanted to ask a large group of people their thoughts on a particular topic? Maybe you want to know what the 2000+ members of the Sydney Testers meetup group want to get out of the group? Was your first thought to create a poll or send out a survey? I bet you that channel didn’t work out so well for you because I tried it.

Here is my list of orders of communication to help you get the results you need when trying to get data to help influence your decisions.

Face to Face

Nothing beats face to face communication. The only draw back with this method is it’s hard to scale to reach a mass market. However the best way to get lots of feedback in a face to face style would be to collect opinions at a physical event. The low-tech solution here would be to hand out a paper survey at a meetup event and collect the results as people leave. BOOM, 30-120 responses based on attendance and it’s all useful data that’s not from some random scrub off the internet. There’s a little bit of manual data entry at the end but the results justify the return on investment.

You see this method play out at conferences for lead generation. A company will have a stall displaying their products and services. They might tempt people in with a competition or survey. “Give us your email for your chance to win” type of deal. This is leveraging face to face communication.

Do you want to settle a deal or convince your boss to give you a raise? Have a face to face meeting in a cosy cafe. It helps build up that environment of trust.

Video or Phone call

If you can’t meet someone in person, arranging a phone call or video chat should be your next point of call. As a millennial I’ve had a mild social phobia of talking on the phone that I’ve had to overcome. I highly recommend getting comfortable with getting on the phone. It will really help with collaborating with any task. As our workforce gets more global this will become more of the way we get work done.

Direct Message

I created this survey for gathering feedback from Sydney testers members last year. However I’ve only received 41 responses so far. I’ve done some pretty thorough marketing for this survey and the results just don’t justify the effort. I did:

  • Sent an email through the MeetUp app asking for feedback
  • Created a discussion on meetup asking for feedback
  • Asked every tester in Sydney who’s a level 1 connection on my LinkedIn to provide feedback via personal direct messages
  • Asked the committee to share the survey
  • Ask every new Tester who I connect with on LinkedIn to provide feedback

The feedback has been really useful but it’s been a lot of work. Work that I’m not getting paid to do either. So I don’t see it as a useful use of my time.

Social Media

Social Media is the ultimate spray and prey method. You put stuff on the internet hoping for people to stumble upon it and react to it. Posting just once hardly is effective. You need to be consistent with this and constantly posting. This is also a lot of work.

For example we’ve had this poll on our Sydney Testers meetup page since 2014, yet we only have 20 responses.

Most of the results so far are around job opportunities, networking, learning tech skills and remaining relevant in my career. If you run a tech meetup, your members probably want very similar things.

Conclusion

I prefer face to face communication above all others. I think meetup sucks as a platform for trying to engage people outside of the “turn up to this event” type of engagement. Do you dis-agree with what I’ve put here? How so?