Sunday, February 23, 2014

Are QA Managers necessary?

Unfortunately I did not attend the Agile Austin QA Special Interest group meeting last Wednesday, but they did explore an interesting topic.  A couple of my colleagues did attend so I got a little bit of an overview.  Since the topic is somewhat hot of the press, I am going to explore the issue.

Are QA managers required in an Agile development world?  Since I am a Director of QA of course my first inclination is to say, “Yes”. 

Is it necessary for the team to include a QA Manager to create great software?  I would conclude, “No”.

Who makes the tough decisions?  I would like to think this is a role of a QA Manager, but a team could certainly make the decision.

Who looks out for the best interests of the testers?  Perhaps we need a union, but I would think this is a role of a QA manager.

Who provides mentorship?  Could be the QA manager, but I think anyone with an experience to share can be a mentor.

Who puts together the budget?  I think this could be the role of a QA Manager.

Who does the hiring?  Entire team should be involved, but I think the decision boils done to the QA Manager.

Who does the people management such as career growth or disciplinary actions?  I would conclude the QA Manager, but it could be any people manager.

Do QA managers get in the way of Agility?  They could, but I think a good QA manager would not get in the way and would be an advocate for innovation and change.

Why was this topic even pondered at a QA SIG?  For this answer I wish I had attended.  I suspect as companies grow, layers of bureaucracy cause frustration and a reduction in speed.

Without QA Manager role what would be a logical career path for testers?  Oh yes, I believe testing is a career, but a tester could be perfectly satisfied focusing on a technical growth path and not in management.  I do like the fact that over time testers have a choice.

I have pondered several questions in this exercise, but I do not think I have scratched the surface on this topic.  I am leaning toward the cop out answer of “it depends”.

If every tester was self motivated, self correcting, self reflecting, and great at their craft, then I would have to say QA Managers are not needed.  However, with the inherent complexities with in a company and various degrees of learning, I think QA Managers can serve a very important role.

I have been managing projects and people for almost 30 years, so believe it is an important role.

Some of the software purists believe that there is no need for QA at all and that code can be so perfectly created that it encapsulates the requirements and essence of the product being delivered.

Many of the “Great” testers that I know are either managers or corporate consultants, so I would conclude leadership is vital from a quality perspective.

It is a delicate dance that probably depends on the size of the company, the structure of the company, and the complexities of the application under test.

Do you have an opinion?

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Eurostar 2014

Well I could not really find anything exciting to write about this week.  I did however submit a couple of topics to present at Eurostar 2014.

I am hoping the abstracts are written well enough to have a chance.

Here are the two abstracts for critique and input.  Although already submitted I would still welcome any thoughts or questions.

Track Talk - Leading Collaborative Testing at Scale

Carl Shaulis will share experiences and practices executing collaborative testing at a company-wide scale.  The testing dojo can take on many dimensions from paired testing, team testing and grow into a company wide testing initiative.  The collaborative process is based on the principles of Session Based Test Management, Agile practices and quality focused leadership.  Carl will elaborate on the experience of managing the effort, reporting results, applying daily retrospectives, and actively involving stakeholders outside of QA or development.  Everyone will learn how to lead a large corporate scale test dojo with a high level of confidence and success. 

Discussion Topic - Test Case Nightmares

Everyone has experienced the nightmare of combinatorial mathematics as test cases and variance increase for modern applications.  The reality is that with rapid software development and many new devices you must randomize the testing or become good at determining risks.  Carl will discuss the pros and cons of test case management.  Carl will also offer techniques using mind maps, risk factors and a game that can help inject variance into test execution.  Everyone will walk away with effective ways to manage your test case nightmare and have a little fun along the way.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Fun with Test Cases

The inspiration for this short post comes from two sources.  

  • A Tweet last week by Noah Sussman, "For instance: Q. How do you manage your test cases? A. Can't talk. Shipping Code."
So my direct answer to Noah was review then delete when it comes to desk cases.  Historically the testing practices advocated for building a mountain of test cases and your product would be "completely" tested.  Should your test cases be Mount Everest or a small dirt pile?  I prefer the dirt pike because it would be easy to move in a reasonable amount of time.

I think it is OK to develop test cases as a source of your testing ideas, but you need to be willing to rapidly abandon some of those ideas.

I am toying with the concept that if a test case is execute 3 times and no issues are uncovered, then we abandon the test case.  Alternatively we should change the test mission.  If it happens to be a test case that checks a critical element, then automate it.

Another idea I am toying with is what I call "Test Case Craps, TCC".  In today's testing world there are numerous browsers and devices so this game can allow your randomly spice up your testing.

The game requires dice (2) and a list.  The list is mapped to the value of the dice.  In this example I put the most commonly used browser relative to the frequency.

2 - 2.78%     Fire Fox Previous version (-1)3 - 5.56%     Fire Fox Latest Version4 - 8.33%     Chrome Previous Version (-1)5 - 11.11%   Chrome Latest Version6 - 13.89%   IE 107 - 16.67%   IE 118 - 13.89%   iPad (iOS 6)9 - 11.11%   iPhone (iOS 6)10 - 8.33%   Android Tablet11 - 5.56%   Android Phone12 - 2.78%   Safari Latest Version

Before you execute the test case roll the dice.  Use the matching device to execute the test case.  This list can be in what ever context you choose (12 most critical functions of AUT), but it can add some randomness and fun to your testing.

So the moral of this short post is to rapidly abandon test cases that do not provide value and have fun!