|By SmartBear Blog||
|March 3, 2016 10:00 PM EST||
Four Ideas for Getting the Most from Your Testing Team (Even When They Have Varying Skillsets)
By Justin Rohrman
A typical software testing team might have a business expert, a toolsmith, a few technical investigators, and perhaps a manager.
A savvy manager knows one of the investigators is interested in mobile, another in APIs, and tries to ‘steer' the work toward the right person. This brings up some questions. What happens when the workload doesn't allow this - the mobile expert goes on leave, or the team members complain they are "pigeonholed"?
What's a smart manager to do? Let's talk about it
1. Identifying your "tester types"
We used to talk about team makeup in terms of ratios -"How many testers do we have per programmer?"
Everyone had different opinions - some say one tester to one developer, some say one tester to 10 developers, and then there is everything in between. Agile testing settled the ratio for most people. We get one or two testers, maybe zero, for each small group of developers.
Having more than one slot makes organizational problem a little easier to cope with. In the past when I had two open spaces, I shot for one person with technical skills and another that knows the ins and outs of testing. More than that is gravy and I try to get as many different perspectives and points of view as possible.
Robert Heinlein might not be happy about this, but people like to specialize and testers are no exception. Some have serious technical chops and play the role of the toolsmith creating code that is worthy of any production environment. Others are interested in the origins of testing in philosophy and social science and spend their time learning about measurement, problem solving, and how people think and work. On top of that there are people that are experts in the business domain and product, experts in usability, and people that specialize in making projects work. There is something for everyone and fitting them into teams is a hard game.
One tactic in this situation is to focus on the strengths.
Imagine embedding a toolsmith in a small development team. The toolsmith could work side-by-side with developers, developing automated checks in parallel to the new features. While the new feature is being developed, the toolsmith is stubbing tests and building infrastructure. At the end of a sprint, there is a new set of checks to monitor code quality when things around that new code change.
Alternately, imagine someone like me with just enough technical ability to get by. I can write code and work on build systems, but it is slow and usually isn't my ideal area to be focused on. My strength is in testing through the API and database, or a mostly finished product. When I join a development, I focus on finding ways the product might fail for a user and helping developers find questions they forgot to ask. This brings better code quality too, but in the form of better first builds instead of code change detection tools.
Or, maybe you can focus on developing those weaknesses.
2. Skill up together
A good long term strategy might look a little like that, with some skill improvement mixed in for both the tester and developer.
On new teams, my first big problem is usually figuring out how to be useful before the new code is in a build and officially ready to look at.
On the flip side, the developer would start to remember the questions I had asked and where I would first look for problems. Each time we paired together on a feature was a lesson in test design for both of us. While asking "what if..." type questions out loud, I'd also be performing the actions in software that would answer those questions. We identified class boundaries on variables, discover workflow problems, and walk through testing them together.
Most testers probably won't get to the point of writing production code, and most developers won't turn into testing experts. Unless you have a nice long career, there just isn't enough time in the day. But, there is nothing wrong with getting just a little bit better.
3. Move toward coaching
Some teams have swung as far as they can go and ended up with very few, if any dedicated testers on their team.
It's hard to pick a place to start embedding testers on teams when you have way more teams than testers. You could try to have that overworked tester jump between teams, always on the losing end of the flow of work, and try to work each feature as they come. Or, you could start from the other end of the equation.
One company I worked with had several development teams, each with a handful of developers and only two testers to go around. I was one; the other was very junior. We worked features as they came, but there were usually too many, so one or two would be neglected. My strategy there was to slowly seed testing ideas in the development team through the occasional lunch and learn, demonstrating problems and explaining how I found them, and generally talking about testing. As a result the quality of the code improved before we saw it and we could test less, and have less back and forth, while still maintaining confidence in the work.
Pivotal went all in on the ‘tester as a coach‘ model. Everyone is officially a developer at Pivotal and contribute to production code, but a couple people are testing specialists and share their knowledge. Those testers travel between teams and teach testing through exercises, games, and pairing on testing problems. Over time, the testers have become more technically competent, and have also been able to improve testing. A rising tide can float all boats.
4. Deal with bad fits
This way of organizing teams is tough, it requires people that are dedicated to improvement all around, and willing to deal with change over long periods of time. That won't work for everyone, and some might be a bad fit despite being good people. Here are a few strategies to consider.
- The Shuffle: If a tester doesn't fit into the needs of one team, maybe they will work out with another. Let's say you have a team that needs someone technical that can help with test-driven development (TDD), or write tests at the service layer, but after a few weeks just isn't able to pick it up. Another team that isn't so automation focused might be a better fit. A non-technical person can add value there without the technical learning curve. Maybe they can even work on those rusty tech skills when time is available.
- Whole Team Testing: The old saying ‘anyone can test' is true, but you better make sure you have the right people. Organizing is important even when there is no test team. Product managers will usually be the subject matter experts, they know the customer, the business domain, and should be able to find workflow and business logic problems. Sales people are great at finding problems in core parts of the product, anything they demo regularly. Sales are like walking, talking smoke testers.
- Testability: This is how we talk about how easy, or hard your product is to test. Do you have good logging? Do you have ways for people to test the product without a user interface? Is it easy to figure out how to get around and use the product? Making it easier to get information about your product will help testers find their value.
Teams are shrinking, we have small groups of developers and only so many slots for testing specialists. Fitting the specialist into the right team, or figuring out how to build up a skill set so they can contribute will help.
SYS-CON Events announced today that delaPlex will exhibit at SYS-CON's @CloudExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. delaPlex pioneered Software Development as a Service (SDaaS), which provides scalable resources to build, test, and deploy software. It’s a fast and more reliable way to develop a new product or expand your in-house team.
Feb. 25, 2017 11:45 PM EST Reads: 1,972
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
Feb. 25, 2017 10:30 PM EST Reads: 1,861
The security needs of IoT environments require a strong, proven approach to maintain security, trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vic...
Feb. 25, 2017 09:00 PM EST Reads: 9,121
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
Feb. 25, 2017 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,915
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Feb. 25, 2017 08:00 PM EST Reads: 13,562
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Feb. 25, 2017 07:30 PM EST Reads: 1,818
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Feb. 25, 2017 07:00 PM EST Reads: 8,832
SYS-CON Events announced today that IoT Now has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IoT Now explores the evolving opportunities and challenges facing CSPs, and it passes on some lessons learned from those who have taken the first steps in next-gen IoT services.
Feb. 25, 2017 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,699
SYS-CON Events announced today that WineSOFT will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Based in Seoul and Irvine, WineSOFT is an innovative software house focusing on internet infrastructure solutions. The venture started as a bootstrap start-up in 2010 by focusing on making the internet faster and more powerful. WineSOFT’s knowledge is based on the expertise of TCP/IP, VPN, SSL, peer-to-peer, mob...
Feb. 25, 2017 06:45 PM EST Reads: 1,941
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, discussed the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports.
Feb. 25, 2017 06:30 PM EST Reads: 2,179
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it m...
Feb. 25, 2017 06:00 PM EST Reads: 7,699
With billions of sensors deployed worldwide, the amount of machine-generated data will soon exceed what our networks can handle. But consumers and businesses will expect seamless experiences and real-time responsiveness. What does this mean for IoT devices and the infrastructure that supports them? More of the data will need to be handled at - or closer to - the devices themselves.
Feb. 25, 2017 05:45 PM EST Reads: 2,223
Things are changing so quickly in IoT that it would take a wizard to predict which ecosystem will gain the most traction. In order for IoT to reach its potential, smart devices must be able to work together. Today, there are a slew of interoperability standards being promoted by big names to make this happen: HomeKit, Brillo and Alljoyn. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Adam Justice, vice president and general manager of Grid Connect, will review what happens when smart devices don’t work togethe...
Feb. 25, 2017 05:00 PM EST Reads: 1,533
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dataloop.IO, an innovator in cloud IT-monitoring whose products help organizations save time and money, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Dataloop.IO is an emerging software company on the cutting edge of major IT-infrastructure trends including cloud computing and microservices. The company, founded in the UK but now based in San Fran...
Feb. 25, 2017 05:00 PM EST Reads: 2,941
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
Feb. 25, 2017 04:45 PM EST Reads: 1,743
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sudarshan Krishnamurthi, a Senior Manager, Business Strategy, at Cisco Systems, will discuss how IT and operational technology (OT) work together, as opposed to being in separate siloes as once was traditional. Attendees will learn how to fully leverage the power of IoT in their organization by bringing the two sides together and bridging the communication gap. He will also look at what good leadership must entail in order to accomplish this, and how IT managers ca...
Feb. 25, 2017 04:15 PM EST Reads: 1,830
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settle...
Feb. 25, 2017 03:30 PM EST Reads: 1,603
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
Feb. 25, 2017 03:30 PM EST Reads: 2,504
TechTarget storage websites are the best online information resource for news, tips and expert advice for the storage, backup and disaster recovery markets. By creating abundant, high-quality editorial content across more than 140 highly targeted technology-specific websites, TechTarget attracts and nurtures communities of technology buyers researching their companies' information technology needs. By understanding these buyers' content consumption behaviors, TechTarget creates the purchase inte...
Feb. 25, 2017 02:30 PM EST Reads: 1,762
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Feb. 25, 2017 02:15 PM EST Reads: 2,315