We don’t say manual programming, do we? But programmers use their hands too? Why do we have manual testers? It’s one of my biggest bug bears. You can read a day in the life of a mobile app tester for more info.
Have you heard of the Agile Manifesto? It was published in 2001 when 17 blokes who work in tech came together to come up with a consolidated way of working. They came up with 12 principles which still hold up today. It’s worth a read.
This blog is digging into the archives and asking the question; where are they now? It is in alphabetical order by surname.
Finally I’ll leave you an Agile is Dead talk by Dave Thomas. It’s probably one of the most viewed software engineering talks on youtube that I’ve seen since I started putting this blog post together (over 1.2 million views):
Surprisingly, only one of these blokes is confirmed as dead. And there is a serious lack of diversity in this group. However they have all been instrumental in current development practices. Who hasn’t heard of Agile?
So who do you think is driving software development further these days?
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
Thanks for connecting. What are some of the challenges facing you these days?
If that’s too early for you the interview will be up on youtube 24 hours after the live event.
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”.
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.
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?
Gene Kim is a well established author and consultant in the DevOps space. He’s written The Phoenix Project, The DevOps Handbook and now his third book The Unicorn Project. I’m looking forward to reading the next one in the series. You can see a similar talk from DevOps Days Portland on youtube here:
Day 2: Troy Hunt and we are all pwned
Troy Hunt always gives an entertaining presentation and he’s a security expert from the Gold Coast, Queensland. He runs a website called, Have I been PWNED and the answer is most definitely always yes. He’s got a similar talk from NDC Sydney here:
Graphs & Investigative Journalism by Michael Hunger
Quantum Computing by Matthew Keesan
Growing your own Design Heuristics by Rebecca Wirfs-Brock
Interaction Protocols by Martin Thompson
Level Up Quality, Security and Safety by Todd Montgomery
TiCCA 2019 (Testing in Context Conference Australia) has been and gone and it was an amazing opportunity to reconnect with some old faces and meet some new ones. It felt like one of the more intimate testing conferences that I’ve been to and that’s a good thing. Now that’s over I feel a bit of Ticca depresso (depressed the conference is over).
Here are Sketchnotes
Is There a Problem Here?
This was a fun talk on how frustrating bugs in production can be. When we don’t focus on the relationships people have with a product we forget the frustrations they may experience. Here is a similar talk by Ben Simo as a keynote for TestingCup:
Fun fact, Graeme lots to do stuff with cars. Watch his #burnoutNomination here:
Agile Testing Mindset
Getting to meet Sam Laing today was a #fangirl moment of mine. I had stalked this person on twitter for a while. It was awesome to have the opportunity to meet her in person. You should definitely go check out her book on A Coach’s guide to agile Testing. Or this talk:
Try to see it my way
Closing keynote by Lynne Cazaly. How to win people over to your ideas. Building that trust and respect within your teams before you advance your agenda/idea. Win them over first. Reminds me of a book I read recently, how to win friends and influence people. You need to try and make things easier. Understand their differences and find their similarities. People are trying to move away from problems or towards new goals.
I enjoyed my time at TiCCA. I met some new people in my community which is always a good thing. What now, What next? How will you put this conference into practice?
Today I gave a talk at TiCCA (Testing in Context Conference). The talk topic was tails of fail – how I failed a quality coach role. It’s a story of how I tried out this quality coaching thing but I didn’t pass probation. You can access the slides here. I used slido to manage the questions at the end of the sesion.
At the end of the day, quality coaching can be hard to demonstrate value add.
Will you answer all these questions offline ?
Yes, this blog post is an attempt to answer all of the unanswered questions that were raised. Thanks Richard. First of all, a bit of context that was missed in my intro. I’m currently a Test Analyst at a superannuation company, I don’t technically have coach in my title but I’m also growing my side business where I provide training and workshops for teams in testing skills. This might have caused some confusion with the questions.
What does a quality coach’s typical day look like?
When I was at Campaign Monitor, my day would start with a stand-up and seeing what items needed focus on for the day. The team might have a work item that needed a bit of testing and I’d be available to pair test with that developer if needed. Some days we would run workshops (training for quality champions; developers who wanted to improve their testing skills) or bug bashes (these were generally once a fortnight).
What are the differences between a quality coach and an agile coach and a test coach?
An agile coach is a facilitator, often scrum certified (but not always). They are usually more focused on helping the team collaborate more effectively over improving the teams quality/testing practices. I don’t see much difference between a test coach vs a quality coach. You can use the words that make sense in your context.
Are there any drawbacks to using a quality coach practice?
Yes, when you are encouraging people who prefer to build things workout their testers mindset you aren’t going to get as focused attention as someone who has spent their career practicing their testing craft.
Also, you might have some really technical testers who aren’t interested in coaching/leadership skills. You shouldn’t expect everyone to want to become a coach and that’s fine too.
What are the benefits to the organisation of the assistance/coach/advocate model?
If your company believes that quality is a team responsibility a coach can help lift the testing capabilities of a team. If you need a bit of focus on quality (maybe you have lots of customers complaining about bugs and it’s costing you big $) but you don’t know how to get your engineering teams to prioritise bug finding as well as build new features a coach could help here. There isn’t a great deal of training out there in how to be a good tester, it’s not as easy as sending your devs off to a 3 day course and bam they are master bug hunters.
If everyone is responsible for quality, is anyone really responsible for quality?
You could always say the CEO or CTO are fundamentally responsible for quality. Maybe have a Chief Quality Officer (CQO)? Maybe they’d just become a scapegoat for all of the problems you face in production? The testing teams themselves aren’t responsible for quality if they can’t easily build quality in either.
What is a good team to quality coach ratio?
Depends on the team/company. When I was at Campaign Monitor we had 2 testers to roughly 50-ish engineers. Hence why we were using the quality champion model to help get more quality reporting from teams. We physically couldn’t sit with all 6 teams at the same time to understand their pain points. I’d prefer a 1 coach to 1-2 cross functional teams. Being embedded and focused on one team of roughly 8 people would work for me.
What are the challenges you faced while quality coaching?
Clearly articulating how I add business value that aligns with my own intrinsic motivations and interests. I don’t think I’ve struggled with convincing developers they need to do more of their own testing.
Soap Opera Testing is a dramatised method used for testing your business processes. You might want to try it for a super-condensed and thorough way of highlighting bugs. And because it’s fun. Embrace the drama.
Cem Kaner has been writting about scenario testing for a long time. He published this article on ‘an intro to scenario testing’ and Hans Buwalda presented on ‘soap opera testing’ nearly 20 years ago 😱. They’re both serious tester dudes and this stuff is legit.
How Does it Work?
You might start with a brain storming session with your sales or customer support team. Ask them for stories about things your users have done. Not just the ordinary things, but also some off-the-wall and crazy things. What you’re looking for is drama.
It might help to sketch out the story briefly. Write down steps that are essential, or those that you might make a mistake on. Cem Kaner gives some practical tips here, although you definitely don’t need to read all 500 pages.
Kaner’s Introduction to Scenario Testing is a bit more bite sized and describes the five main points your scenario needs. Namely that it’s a story, it’s credible, it will test the program in a complex way, the results are easy to evaluate and stakeholders will see the point of fixing the bugs identified.
A scenario is a hypothetical story, used to help a person think through a complex problem or system.
You then run a test exercise using the characters and scenarios from a soap opera, and analyse the results. You can do this as many times as you want, with as many different scenarios.
Use whatever soap opera you like. We make no judgements. Although fair to say that if you use A Country Practice, you’re showing your age and nobody will know what you’re talking about.
Let’s Soap Up
Here’s an example of Soap Opera Testing using The Simpsons. The program being tested is a mortgage loan application.
Let’s say Homer Simpson wins the lottery, and decides to apply for a second mortgage, for an investment property. Just as the paperwork is about to go through, Grampa Simpson burns his apartment down.
Homer decides to help him out with the cost of a rental, meaning he needs to change the deposit he’ll pay on his investment property. Homer signs the amended paperwork but he signs it incorrectly.
Then his application is declined because even winning the lottery doesn’t give you a good credit rating overnight. The Simpsons’ next ‘diddly-door’ neighbour Ned Flanders offers to help Homer out. He’ll put in the 10% deposit.
Ned lends a helping hand
His own house is 90% paid off so it’s no big deal to him, and it will help Homer get around his bad credit rating. The Simpsons’ house is 50% paid off, and they’re putting down a 90% deposit, using Homer’s lottery winnings, and leaving some bowling money left over.
They’re about to go to the bank and lodge the paperwork, when Homer’s half-brother Herbert Powell hears about the lottery win. Boy has he got the mother of all investment options for Homer – nuclear powered cars!
Adjust down payment
Homer can get in on the action if he puts some cash into building a prototype. So Homer has to syphon off yet more funds from the deposit he’ll make on his investment property, and change the paperwork again.
Whew, put all that through the system and see where you get to. If you think of more variables as you go, you can add them to the scenario and run the test again.
What We’ve Tested
A whole heap of stuff.
We tested rejections, with Homer’s first application, and signature recognition when he goofed up his name.
We tested multiple applications made by the same person, with an adjustment in the deposit amount made after the application had gone through.
We tested how to register multiple assets with different mortgage amounts, and a different percentage of ownership. What’s more, the owners of the properties and mortgage were not residents at the same address.
The applicants had different credit ratings, which affected the different algorithms in their application process. And they weren’t related, and didn’t intend living together at the property, which was for investment only.
Here’s a snappy list:
Multiple applications from the same person
Multiple assets with different mortgages
Different percentage ownership
Different credit ratings
Investment property applications
It only takes a little imagination to try to find many more bugs using a soap opera scenario, versus the standard “works as expected” response we’d have gotten from the test-case walk through.
Here’s a three minute recap in a lightning presentation I gave at the Selenium Conference in India.
I recently asked myself, “where would I like to take my career?”. This is a blog post on that reflection. From maintaining tech skills to improving my coaching. Here are the things that are important to me.
Keeping tech skills up to date
I’ve been doing software testing now for over 7 years and even though I come from a Computer Science and Engineering background, I’m finding people too easily put me in the box of “non technical manual tester” based on my previous roles. If I do not work hard at maintaining my tech credibility I see a risk that I will be stuck with the “non technical” label for the foreseeable future. So how am I maintaining this skill? I’m working towards the following:
I’ve already spoken at conferences about my example poo tracking wearable app to talk about ideas like privacy by design. I haven’t even built the app yet and I’m using it to teach people. I’m interested in teaching myself mobile app development and how to build basic API’s. I even have someone who’s offered to help build this. Eventually I’d like to use this app to help teach people about different elements of testing.
Attending developer conferences
I’ve always enjoyed attending dev focused conferences. I always learn more compared to software testing focused conferences because it is out of my domain of expertise. I will continue to prioritise these conferences over software testing conferences this year.
Any new role that I start has to help me with maintaining my tech skills first and foremost. This is number one priority I will look at when assessing new roles.
Improve my Teaching/Coaching
I have always loved teaching. I was the kid in school that all my friends asked for help with maths questions. I’ve been tutoring my peers for as long as I remember. I’ve had my tutoring side business for almost as long as I’ve been testing. If teaching wasn’t see as a bit of a dead end low respected job, I would have studied it at uni. I do this stuff for free, that’s how much I love doing this. Being a Quality Coach at Campaign Monitor showed me that there is demand for people to teach software testing skills. In a few years I’d love to be running my company where teaching technical testing skills is my focus. I’ve been running robotics workshops for kids since my uni days. Any job that allows me to practice on the company dollar is a plus in my mind.
Speaking at Conferences
I’ve spoken at 14 tech conferences in the last 3 years. I enjoy getting up on stage. Any role that encourages me to do more of this is awesome in my books. It relates to the enjoying teaching, however getting up on stage is a little different to tutoring/coaching a person one on one. There is an element of entertainment with getting up on stage. The putting on a persona and pretending to be something more that what you feel inside.
All the data
In all of my previous roles, I’ve always enjoyed doing a deep dive into data analytics. From creating dashboard for event tracking testing to helping product understand how our customers were using our apps. I enjoy it all. I’m considering doing a Masters in Statistics in a few years when I’m more on top of my finances.
A bit of job stability
I went through the motions of job hunting 3 times last year. I do not want to do this again and again. Also meeting new people is mentally draining. A bit of stability with my work environment would be awesome. Or at least some having planned turbulence. I hadn’t had much luck with full time positions last year. Maybe this year I do all contracting? I’m still considering full time though.
Have a good culture
I care deeply about having a good social connection with the team I’m working with. I need to feel like I can bring an authentic version of myself to work. That means being vulnerable enough to talk about my struggles with depression and to be comfortable bring my quirkiness to work. It comes down to psychological safety.
I’m not solely motivated by money but having a consistent budget compared to my previous role is important for my financial security. I do feel like I’m getting at the expensive end for being a software tester and I can’t even compete with off shore testers in regard to pricing.
Practising a bit of sales and marketing
I struggle with selling testing as a craft where you want skilled people doing it for you. I’m glad I’ve never had to pitch my skills to CEO’s before getting hired as a tester. Someone else has already been convinced of the value testers bring. However with shrinking test teams I think the testers that will thrive in the future will have their pitch just perfect. Any testers who knows how they add value to others and remains relevant probably won’t struggle as much as those testers who don’t. I’m practising marketing through things like my blog and running Sydney Testers. Getting up on stage is related to marketing too. I’m also going to right a book this year as a marketing exercise.
I’m not interested in
Management; this feels like a clear way to let you tech skills go rusty and it’s becoming harder for managers to promote themselves as relevant in today’s agile/self driving teams.
Having QA in my title and working in a role that is only “Automation” testing; I find a lot of companies are demanding QA automation skills but don’t seem to understand the value a skilled tester can bring to the role or company. QA often stands for quality assurance, however building automation doesn’t assure quality, it helps the engineering team deliver code with higher confidence. To me QA stands for Quality Advocate. I can’t assure quality. You will find I never call myself QA anything in all of my online profiles.
It’s rare that I find someone who can clearly articulate why they want automation in a way that drives me towards it. I’ll happily collaborate with an Engineering team to help build this however I have a tendancy to get distracted by all of the other fascinating elements of quality. Like accessibility or security.
I’d prefer to call myself a Software Engineer in Test who is focusing on helping developers own and improve their own quality processes. There shouldn’t be a difference between Software Engineers and Testers in today’s agile teams. We are all working towards building quality products.
I’ve come to believe that my next ideal role is some kind of developer advocate role. Tech will be the focus, but that blend of marketing, community engagement, technical writing and speaking at conferences is appealing to me. Ideally I’d like to have a Mobile Software Engineer in Test role to help me move towards my coaching/teaching goals and to help me keep up to date with mobile technology.
What are you looking for in your career? Do you have a career coach to help you move in the right direction?
2018 has come and gone. You know what, overall it’s been a pretty shit year for me but the goal of this blog post is to take a moment to practice gratefulness and to reflect.
The crappy bits
I started 2018 not being able to walk because I broke my ankle in December 2017 and couldn’t walk for 12 weeks. I was also starting a new job. 2018 saw me go through a relapse of depression because of broken leg blues and I went through 2 jobs. The first one wasn’t the right fit and the second one had cash flow problems. But still, these were unplanned events that made me feel like failure.
However that is enough moping about. What else did I achieve in 2018?
I spoke at the Selenium Conf in India in July. This was pretty cool. It doesn’t matter how much people tell you about cultural differences, it’s really worth experiencing some of these things yourself. I had never been to India before so that was exciting.
I spoke at a few more in Aus (Agile Australia, and Australian Testing days), you can see all of my recorded presentations here. I also attended a few offering my sketch noting services. I enjoyed being able to attend these conferences and add some value back.
Getting around on wheels made me appreciate public transport here in Sydney. Sure it’s not 100% perfect, but it’s definitely better than New York. Watch Zach Anner on his quest for the rainbow bagel using the New York public transport: