It’s not like the good old QA days …

I am starting to think those of us who grumble about misuse of term “QA” (Quality Assurance) are maybe in the realms of grumpy old men/women. I now beginning to realise that yes, people use the term far too loosely without thinking it through. But more is expected of the tester these days, than simply testing – and those expectation do fall within the realm of Quality Assurance. Quality Assurance and Testing used to be distinct areas, though testing came under the overall remit of a QA manager, as it’s a quality gateway task. Continue reading

Steampunk testing

Sex sells, that is a stock sales phrase, and it works – regardless of male/female, heterosexual/gay, we can all succumb to something that appeals to our passion side.  In testing?  Well, the technology world has transformed away from the realm of socially defective loners, to must-have accessory to your life. Most of what is sold, of course, we don’t need.  When fashion entered tech, it trivialised it as well as using it very effectively, for sales and marketing. Continue reading

Quality Assurance

Let me set something straight. Quality Assurance (QA) is about improving the process that is used to create the end result. In other words (in software development) the project lifecycle and all it’s inherent processes. The wikipedia defintion is not that bad, so there is no excuse for rebranding of QA as purely about testing (though testing processes do come under QA remit). To misunderstand what Quality Assurance probably means you don’t really understand what testing is about either. In other words, leave it to the experts. I realise saying we need to QA this product sound vaguely more exciting than we need to test this product. Reason being is that most people don’t get what it is anyway. Mysterious – hence, cooler.

Testing is still alive and always will be

As usual, the swing against testers has gone way too far (again). More technically competent, sure – but advertising for testers, focusing on programming ability alone will get you another developer. And maybe someone who neither a good tester or good developer.

I am quoting myself from a linkedin update, but what the hell – after 17 years in QA, I think my views must be valid enough to quote.  Continue reading

Change please …

new monkey

Following reading Elisabeth Hendrickson’s post about disillusionment with with QA. There is too much resistance to the big change that is already upon us in QA, but so many in denial. We all need to code.

I saw a similar turn in 2000, when the sudden more technical and adaptable demands on a tester increased. A wave of testers left the profession, and and then suddenly flooded with well-meaning amateurs. I feel lucky in that my path started down the new route early. Sure, it was messy and chaotic time – like babies really, muddling through radical change to web projects. Faster to live, cheaper but not necessarily the attention to quality that Agile and other modern approaches promoted. Anyway, that is certainly water under the bridge now. For years I have been using different tools for automation, dependant very much on client resources and budget. I was in a nice niche of free-thinking digital media and creative industries, where change and improvement are seen as the norm, not the exception.

I feel a little confused, but not enough to concern me. At this time, it is very important to choose a good direction. Sure, I could cruise on one path pretty much to retirement age. Well, that isn’t going to happen. It’s a calm before the storm at the moment – everything is already in place, but there is a resistance from many to the changes happening. There has to be more assertive efforts to follow the approaches. Lofty concepts such as Lean development is a tall order for a company struggling to maintain just Scrum. You need expertise to drive it forward, and simply change people’s job titles just simply isn’t enough.

So we all need to change, not just us in QA. Rather than the mass production approach endemic in software development (little wonder we gravitated to manufacturing processes for inspiration), quality needs to be more in focus. And building good teams – we are dealing with human being ultimately.  After all, we are supposed to be embracing change, not fighting it 🙂

Testing Consultancies

Things to be wary about when evaluating testing consultancies. Unfortunately the drive behind most test consultancies is to ramp up scope by default, and therefore ramp up test resources accordingly. It is business like any other, and business doesnt survive on charity, but honesty and transparency go a long way to assuring business confidence and improving the overall testing process. There is a fine balance between genuine testing consutlancy, and getting enough work to warrant their trouble. If the remit is simply to make a company paranoid, then effectively the consutlancy is introducing a new negative force (which of course they will be there to combat). Effective test consutlancy is QA (Quality Assurance), which is about confidence.

  • Business confidence in that they get what they expected.
  • Confidence in project team that QA is providing added benefit to the development and signoff process.
  • Most importantly, confidence that QA can help with preventative measures.

Consultancies shouldn’t just adopt a “more is better” policy, when effective test assurance processes will do the actual job required of a consutlancy – i.e. consultancy! If you want to take a test consultancy route, make sure you pick one where the actual testing service is minimal focus. There are pnety of testing companies that sepcialise in this area – propviding resource to assist you with testing, onshore or offshore. But what is probably more value to a business is help with overall test process, rather than just testing resource, which is simply masking fundamental issues.