TMATLC2020 inspires you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new

Welcome to another weekly report of leadership, testing knowledge and fun. 

Monday, August 10th

This week started with the session, “Transforming with Scaled Agile and Importance of Test Leadership” by Ali Khalid.

Ali talked about the lessons learned as his team transformed to scaled Agile and how the test leadership of its own kind evolved out of it. 

Ali’s session mainly revolved around below takeaways – 

  • In a nutshell, how SAFe delivers value at pace in an Enterprise
  • Leadership and autonomy: are these two opposing forces?
  • What problems you may run into without test leadership
  • Less focus on defining processes, more on implementing and learning from the execution
  • Build synergies, that’s the only way automation delivers

Ali emphasized that testing goals should be derived from business goals. 

He also recommended hiring experts to help provide thought leadership & guidance.

The next session “Automated ADA is Testing with Pa11y and Ruby/Cucumber” by Jerren Every was a completely new topic for me.

This talk covered the story of how a company can move from manual ADA testing to automated ADA testing utilizing Pa11y and Ruby-Cucumber.  

Jerren mentioned the WCAG 2.0 guidelines i.e.

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable 
  • Robust

Pa11y Functionality

Right after this session, we attended  “Full Stack Testing in a Culture: Drive your team to Embrace Change” by Christina Thalayasingam 

She started with the big question. What is full-stack testing? And gave us the answer right away.

The ethos of full-stack testing is the ability to test the quality of a feature end-to-end (in all aspects) and assure it is as expected before it gets shipped.

I liked this quote by Jim Rohn that she shared in her talk, “You can’t change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” 

On the question “Why should we go with full stuck testing?”, Christina answered that it is because we will have the ability to spot issues not just in functionally but any quality issue and that will enable us to narrow down bugs at an early stage. Full-stack testing enables to communicate quick feedback mechanism for every change. It is not required to rely on test teams working in silos and it creates business value by giving fast feedback loops on all layers of a technical process.

How to avoid working in silos you might ask yourself?

The answers Christina gave us were actually pretty straightforward. Even the easiest things appear hard sometimes. We should work as a team, exchange roles when doing quality checks, train each other, help each other and work together when difficult tasks come up.

Benefits of full-stack testing:

  • Versatile Team
  • The team gained vast experience
  • All-inclusive work
  • Can troubleshoot issues
  • Budget-friendly
  • Timely delivery
  • They can assume ownership of project quality.
  • Continuous learning

To start with full-stack testing it is important we pick the right tools. To choose them mindfully we will strongly depend on our requirements, tech-stack that we already have and how strongly we handle our daily workflow. We need to choose tools that fit the team skillset, which can be work-integrated and have ways that can be used for the team to be trained.

Christina gave us some tips on how to go about full-stack testing

Select a feature/story that is simple and that requires various types of quality checks. Structure the testing so most types of tests can be incorporated. And the most important point, work as a team Jo-Jo and help each other.

She also discussed some setbacks to be mindful of –

  1. Under productivity and time management
  2. Not able to keep up with the trends
  3. Confusion about team member responsibilities

My key learnings out of this session, we need to have a stable ground with product expertise, effective communication and leadership and understanding system architecture and design. To make our testing stable we need a system and end-user thinking and Software testing and test design also as test management to report, analyse and matrice. UI Level functional –  end to end unit- and security testing also as test-driven development.  CI/CD and testing mindset as an engineering performance, for example, service level performance, client-side profiling and code quality and coverage.

Tuesday, August 11th

Today I attended the session titled; “What can Testers Do to Build Their Tester Mindset and Break Silos at Work?” by Emna Ayadi

Emna started her session with this question; “How can we create links between different people?” The answer is, we need to create a community of practice.

The reason we need a Community of Practice lies within the following four catchwords.

When groups are isolated (testers, developers etc.) it’s easy to blame one particular group. To mix the groups is effective for teamwork, which means to bring people together with the same interests but not the same skills. A Community of Practice is a combination of Community, Domain and Practice.

Emna recommended some games which can help in the process of forming the CoP. 

For example – 

  • “Questions for testers” by James Lindsay, I already mentioned this game in my first week’s report which you may find here.
  • Lean Coffee can be held virtual or in person.
  • RiskStorming, to gather members to establish a test strategy also to be found here.
  • Scrum@Play, participants exchange together about Scrum using cards.
  • DevOps Cards is a game that delivers.
  • Agile Test Coaching Cards, where teams can explore their way of testing.

The Community of Practice enables us to share the knowledge one has and brings us together to build an even stronger community. 

“Knowledge is a treasure, but the practice is the key to it.” Léo Buscaglia

Emna also mentioned the five orders of ignorance by Philipp G. Armor – 

  • 0th Order Ignorance – Lack of Ignorance
  • 1st Order Ignorance – Lack of knowledge
  • 2nd Order Ignorance – Lack of awareness
  • 3rd Order Ignorance – Lack of Process
  • 4th Order Ignorance – Meta Ignorance

Recommendations by Emna to build a community:

  • Community identity and social media
  • Members Identity, 
  • Meetup schedule and frequency
  • Find the right people
  • Define purpose
  • Find a facilitator
  • Find a sponsor
  • Go to multiple locations
  • Make it fun

Emna concluded her session with this wonderful sketch which I don’t want to miss sharing with you.

My key learning from this session is never to forget this thing i.e. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Wednesday, August 12th

The day started with “Testing with ML Products” by Sri Sabarinath. 

My session notes –

What is machine learning (ML)?

Making the machine to learn to do certain things; it can be to identify objects, answer questions, detect the topic of a given content, so on and so forth.

For teaching the machine, we use mathematical concepts, algorithms and statistical models.

Sri talked about Environment Crunches. This deals with multiple items, unlike normal software world-

  1. Orientation
  2. Lightning & Colors
  3. Distance & Height Variations
  4. Backdrop
  5. Different shapes

Some of the high-level challenges with testing ML products would be :

Difficulty in reproducing a defect. Root causing the defect is not easy.

To make decisions from the results and working with ML/Applied scientists is not a cakewalk.

That was indeed an interesting session which left me wondering about the complex world of AI and Machine Learning. 

Later this day I attended “No Team, No Tests, No Time or How To Survive and Thrive when Resources are Limited” session by Iryna Suprun

Iryna started the session with a very meaningful message. This presentation was supposed to be different. It was supposed to be in NY, it was supposed to be with all of us together. Like all of the presentations were supposed to be shared in a very different way and place. 

But we have to remember it is 2020 a year that’s different to the years before and sets a mark to the years that will follow from now on. So for now, stay safe, wear a mask and use disinfection. Better times will come.

My session notes from this talk –

What are the limited resources?

Challenging deadlines, bugs in production, understaffed or no QA teams and processes, no automation available or Covid19.

There is no Time to Die.

What can you do if you don’t have enough time for testing?

  • Test parties (prod + qas + support + technical services)
  • Everybody tests their own code
  • Dogfooding (make it easy)
  • Test only what matters (money flows, security)
  • Customers = testers
  • Feature toggling
  • Just ship it

What can you do if you are too busy to automate?

  • Do you really need to automate it?
  • Really? Why?
  • If you don’t automate it what will happen?
  • On what level do you want to automate it?
  • Bug on prod = automated test
  • Tools (recording went a long way)
  • Tools – browsers and devices
  • Tools – collecting user data (for existing functionality)
  • Can you automate testing not tests
  • Ignore the numbers (you do need certain coverage %)
  • Invest in the quality of test data

You can sum up this year’s budget in one word – Help!

  • Move functional, performance and security testing as much left as possible
  • If you can use users as testers – do it 
  • Use free tools
  • TDD/BDD
  • If bugs were found fix root cause – not the code only
  • Invest in technology
  • Prioritize (tests, tasks, etc.)
  • Do not save money on analytics and requirement gathering
  • Testing environments are cattle, not pets.

Cheap ways to improve quality can be static code analysis tools. Use documentation as a test plan.

But what can we do if there is no QA Team?

Iryna gave us some points were to have quality is a team responsibility but it should have an owner. Have quality goals and figure them out together, so everyone has the same understanding. Make automation a shared responsibility and consider using TDD/BDD. 

Decide feature owners and go into visual testing to create epic kickoffs.

She also talked about some great tips on how to work in difficult situations like now, when we all had to move our office into our home and had to figure out how to be as productive as we were in our workspace without kids or dogs who interrupt our work.

And finally some thoughts on building QA Teams from scratch:

  • How many people do you need?
  • Do you need juniors or seniors?
  • Which set of skills do they need?
  • What personality will fit in?
  • Alternative: users, contractor, tools

And here are some QA processes to think about. Do not overthink, especially in the beginning, document and make each task somebody’s responsibility and adapt what is needed.

Keep calm and continue testing.

Right after I attended the “Workshop: Design Thinking for Testing Teams” by Jennifer Bonine

My session notes as follows – 

“Design thinking for testing: Connect to your customers.”

Why customer experience matters, companies with customer experience mindset drive revenue 4-8% higher than the rest of their industries.

Customers tell an average of nine people about a positive experience with a brand, but they tell 16 people about a negative experience.

Put your customer first
To achieve your desired business outcome, focus on the customer and take a truly introspective look at where you are.
A survey found that 80% of CEOs believe they deliver superior customer experience; only 8% of their customers agreed. This is a monstrous gap – where we can help!

Addressing the Consumerization of IT

  • Customers now consider the quality of the digital experience they receive when weighting purchasing decisions.
  • The company takes the hit for any shortcomings the blame is quickly redirected towards IT
  • IT guidance must translate to business terms to really have a meaningful impact 
  • Focus on a modular architecture approach that leverages services will better position teams for success. 

87% of US eCommerce transactions happen via mobile devices and percentages are exploding.

It’s People, Process and Technology

Digital transformation is the intersection of people, process and technology fused to help businesses better innovate, compete and win in a digital-first world.

8 Transformations attributes in companies

Discover:

Pain: Emotional or rational problem (perspectives are different)

Understand: Common understanding of the problem and defining of the design challenge.

Observe / Data Mining: Interview and observation of the customer in order to obtain “Deep Insights”

Data discovery for extracting “Deep Learning” from data.

Create: 

Define: Combination of “Deep Insights” and “Deep Learnings” in order to define the point of view.

Ideate: Development summary, and evaluation of the greatest possible number of ideas.

Deliver:

Prototype/ Modeling Experiments: Making Ideas tangible with prototypes. Experimenting and visualization of “Insights” with models.

Test / Proof of value: Join testing of the prototypes and the models, visualizations, and dashboards with customers.

Realize: Refining the concept and implementation of the solution.

Jennifer shared an idea on how to get started to think differently.

  1. Put modelling clay in some carrying container 
  2. Prep a mini-pedestal for your artwork
  3. Take it out and play!

When you’ve reached a good stopping point, pause, look at what you’ve created and asked yourself something.

This becomes the nexus of the whole experience
To learn when to pause.
To learn to see.
To learn how to question.

At this point I can add something I am using for myself, for example, you can use playdoh, it is reusable and kneading it in your hands reduces stress in the same time you are creating something new and the fun part it is available in every colour your mood is currently attracted to. Enjoy.

To completely connect to our customers Jennifer recommends to work with Customer Persona/ Avatar. Some of you might have attended the “Fictional Test Data” by Joshua Russell. He also spoke about the importance of using a persona/ avatar. If you missed his session you can find more about it in my report here.

Creating a persona/avatar, you create a detailed profile of your ideal customer. It doesn’t make assumptions or categorize people into groups and the persona/avatar on one person and outlines everything about them.

Do you work already with Persona/ Avatar? If not, then now is the time.

We would love to get introduced to your Persona/ Avatar. Let us know what Avatar you created @testmasteracad and @Jennifer Bonine and @AstridWinkler4, don’t forget the #tmatlc2020.  Get creative, finding new ways and ideas.

You are also invited to introduce us to your existing Persona/ Avatar

  1. Pick one customer persona for a product you use or work on
  2. Write down all the information
  3. Fill in:
  • Demographics
  • Sociographic
  • Psychographics

Some more insights/tips on Personas:

Personas help you know your customers, understand your customer’s needs and expectations and create better experiences that they find exciting.

Visualize the customer’s journey with all its relevant details and understand your customer’s experience.

Learn who influences your service and how they are interconnected and then organize your stakeholders in three circles – Is the stakeholder essential, important or interesting? Which ones are local, national or international?

Jenny concluded her session with the following picture.

There are a few ways we can choose to go, not everyone will be right but every experience is worth making and even the wrong way can sometimes lead us to beautiful destinations. So even if a decision was wrong, change, start again and take the knowledge with you.

Thursday, August 13th

Another day to go at TMATLC2020 and one more week will come to an end. “Transforming Insider Inc.`s Test Automation Strategy” by Chaithra Rao started my session day for me and I was excited to be part of it. Chaithra started to talk about the challenges she faced reflecting in the team by asking questions and starting a journey to find answers as a team.

What did they do to fix those?

By asking who they were as a QA team and why were they automating? They decided to change the name of the QA Team to be Test Engineering, which was just the beginning of the change when they dissolved the test framework and started to rethink their automation in the testing strategy. [Replace this with “their strategy for automation in testing”]

How did they avoid the ongoing projects from being adversely affected?

They used a lightweight framework that was simple, easy to set up and fast to run.

How did they divide the work to try different proof concepts?

With their automation strategy.

Chaithra mentioned the lessons she learned during her journey to find the answers that lead her and the team to success (and can also help you find the answers you might be looking for?) 

The lesions were –

Don’t doubt your abilities, set smart goals and clear expectations while you give and receive constructive feedback. Recognize and appreciate great work, lead with empathy and cultivate a culture of learning in your team.

My key takeaways from this session –

  • Take a step back, see the big picture and evaluate
  • Trust your instincts, your team and the process
  • Empower your team to success
  • Provide constant learning and growth opportunities
  • Lead with empathy
  • Don’t be afraid to start over.

I left this session with a bag full of answers, learnings and ideas for all my upcoming experiences I might make.

“Don’t be afraid to start over. This time you’re not starting from scratch, you’re starting from experience”

There was no time to close my bag, so I left it open because I was sure about more knowledge lined up and fill all the empty pockets I had then with the next session about “Building the QA Team of the 2020’s”  by  Kirk Walton.  And he started with, “Great Teams create great Tech.” But how to create a great team who will create the great results we want to reach?

Kirk said “Quality matters more than ever” and to support that he presented the following numbers – 

  • 33% of a customer would leave a brand they love after one negative experiences
  • 92% of customers would leave a brand they love after two or three bad experiences

This left me thinking on how many employees would do the same after one or two bad experiences happen in their job? And when is it only bad experience in their opinion?

Kirk presented Transformation Maturity Journey to help us understand better on what stage we are d where we want to be with our teams.

To find out on what stage you are with your team it is important to focus on two different paths with your team.

The part that is technically focused:

  • Heavily focused on automation and performance testing
  • The “True” SDET role
  • Upskilling opportunity for those test professionals with the ”coding gene”
  • Great opportunity for consulting help from the outside.

The part that is business-focused:

  • Quality Advocates -instil the QA mindset throughout
  • Quality Coaches – train “how to test”
  • Domain experts
  • Exploratory Testing
  • Customer / end-user advocates
  • Humanual Testing

In the session, we got some tips on how we can assess our current team – 

  • What skills do they currently have? Do they fit your future vision?
  • Identify skill gaps
  • Assess for aptitude and interest
  • Check with HR for tools they may have
  • tap QA has a high-level skill assessment we use we can share.

To build your team from the outside, Kirk recommended creating a persona and game plan for the hiring process asking yourself a few questions.

  • Who are the top performers in your team, what are their traits, behaviours, attitudes, skills do they have in common?
  • What skill gaps do you have these new individuals need to have?

And when you answer these questions, congratulations, you’ve just created your persona. 

This may be more effective than a job description.

Candidates, interview you as much as you interview them. So also make sure you are prepared and have great questions ready for the candidate. 

Here are some great questions you can use for your next interview:

  • What are you ideally looking for in a new role?
  • What’s the biggest difference from where you were 3 -5 years ago and where you are today?
  • What’s the best thing you’ve learned in the past year?
  • What’s the most useful piece of constructive criticism you’ve received?
  • Why are you leaving your current role?

When the interview is done and if you like the candidate, be sure to address their top concerns, and how your organization meets their needs!

Q A R Question Answer Reaction!

That was a long week indeed. The weekend is already here and it is time to take a break. My bag of knowledge got quite full during the past weeks and I am still motivated and excited to get more. I hope you will join me on my way.

This week again made a great contribution to my knowledge and experiences. Not only to share them but also get the inspiration to try something new and think out of the box. Even though sometimes our boxes are very cosy and comfortable, isn’t it very interesting to leave our comfort zones and try something we never thought we would be capital of?

In the worst-case things won’t work out but we will still learn from that experience and all that really matters is that we made an effort.

For now, I will leave you figuring out what it would be you can do next, that you never did before.  And I am curious to know. 

Wish you a wonderful weekend!

See you soon.

Astrid

Astrid WinklerAstrid Winkler is a budding freelance journalist and content writer from Switzerland. Creativity is her passion and writing is her lost-and-found love which she is willing to develop with more care. 

Connect with Astrid on Linkedin or follow her on twitter @AstridWinkler4