Learning buddies in Test Management?


(Abigail) #1

We started a conversation at the TestBash Brighton UnExpo about wanting to teach, learn and share experiences year round rather than just at the conference.

So here we are! And if you interested in learning, teaching or sharing experiences about Test Management? Why not connect here with Ellie and others who are also looking to connect!


The unexpo coming online...learning buddy time!
(Nichole) #2

hello…again
:slight_smile:


(Will) #3

W.r.t. writing a test strategy what’s the best method for gathering exclusions for testing? I.e. what you shouldn’t be testing and why.


(Patrick) #4

Hello!

I looking for Input/Thoughts on my Problem…

I am a QA Manager in Agile, for my Product. In the Company we got a total of 4 Products with 1-2 tester on every product. I am the first Testmanager in the company.
We got the problem that every tester thinks only in his product (which differ a lot, esp. technically) and isn´t capable of helping out in other products, or test other products while someone is sick, paternity leave, …
I want to change that, and the bosses are totally in on that plan. But how would that go in a agile environment? My first thoughts was knowledge transfer, pair testing/bughunts together on the different products.

But which approach is the right one when it comes to the organisational architecture? I believe that with the skill/mindset of the testers (and their intrinsic will to learn and improve) it would be best to have
a) a single QA-department which isn´t hard embedded in the agile teams, where we can “send” our testers freely to different products sprint-wise or month-wise for example
b) an agile QA Lead which tries to combine the knowledge-transfer and everything that comes with it with the ideas of agile.

problem is, the other testers aren´t working agile yet, no one explained them how. There is no automatisation, no explorative testing, they still complain about where the specifications for the features are saved. (nowhere, they are now user stories in jira). No one helped them to transform, so i think a agile QA lead or a sole department could be the solution. I would be grateful for more thoughts/ideas. Thank you !


(Abigail) #5

Hey Fury that is a tough problem. I wonder if it makes sense to also ask in the community of practice thread?

The reason I suggest that is by taking people off of teams and just sending them for short times I have seen challenges in building domain knowledge as well as strong working relationships across roles/teams. Community of practice may be something to think about. But in reality I think this is a whole other problem all together which you aptly call organisational architecture. Haven’t seen too much on here in that space!


(George) #6

I like what Abigail says. Keep in mind that any organizational structure, no matter how good it is for some things, cannot be optimized for everything. And just because a different structure may be necessary for some work, that doesn’t mean the overhead of reorganization is justified. Communities can be formed, based on work roles, skills, interests to address needs of the organization. It can be an ongoing community if needed, or just a one-time task force.


(Florian) #7

Hi I would like to contribute and also learn more about the Test Managment.
I’m a hands on QA Manager for several Mobile Apps and their Backend(s).

tl:dr
Guy is writing about his current situation and explains QA as a Service for a 70 people several project wide QA Department in the past.

I’m in a similar situation as fury right now
For your question fury. As Abigail start it’s a though one! If you are transfering the conversation somewhere else, please provide a link. :slight_smile:
Before I start I can tell you it’s highly dependent on your company and how much allowance you have to change workflows etc. I have read many many many Posts where “everyone” is talking about QA doesn’t need an Department Director (some call it QA Manager), but from my position I think someone needs to have the hat on to decide standartization and setting up of guidlines. Although it should be always hands on working in the Testing Process of some sort aswell.

We are 2 “QA Managers” in Agile of each having a platform + our platform shares core functionalites of software from other internal teams. Before he joined I did all of the QA and we had a Monolithic Software which is now split up.
So we had the luck of starting with a very big information transfer from me to him as both platforms also are pretty similar.

Now after a while the both platforms are differing pretty much and we are also having issues getting to know the sides of the service software which is used by the other platform then ours.
We didn’t implement QA as a Service yet (will go into that below). So we yet have no other knowledge transfer then speaking with each other asking questions if we want/need to sync information, if something (all) isn’t stated in the documentation/feature-tickets/user stories.
Also we are holding once a Month a Meeting only QA, to sync what are our pressure points and how we handle things in general. If we find something one of the teams does better or worse we hold another meeting with the POs to sync that and fix the issue or make the other team happier/faster.

Although we are having a similar structure and are also sharing other service software we simply can’t help out each other on our own Platforms. Our week is far to packed to do something else. When one of is sick the devs in the team will cover the manual testing effort themself. That worked okish so far, of course leading to some missed also not documented but fixed defects but better then having the double workload on 1 person instead. Not that you get that wrong, the devs in my company are not Test Engineers they are fully Software Engineers doing Unit tests and final testing of their just developed code aswell simple code reviews of others. They only got some guidelines in case of QA is missing. (But i heared there is a magical unicorn (some Key Agile Methodoligy) where Testers and Devs (and DevOps) are developing and coding on the same level for the software and the Testing Process! - Yet saw no Job Offers only SDET but not allowed to code main software. ^^)

QA as a Service
In my prior company we defined QA a little different, due to the fact that the QA was more then 70 people. All Projects were synced in a 1 Week Scrum Sprint Meth. Some projects expanded that to a 2 or 4 Week synced intervall.

Each project had a Team of QA Engineers. A team got created when a project got it’s greenlight and was in an Early Access state. When a team got bigger then 4 people following structure was implemented:
You got:

  • QA Team Lead doing the company (mostly HR and organizational related tasks aswell performance overview and communication with the product team about the roadmap etc. Also the Team Lead created knowledge transfer between the other QA Teams and the QA Director to sync issues and standardization. Smaller QA Teams shared one Team Lead.
  • QA First which mostly was a Senior or the literally first QA assigned to the project at first, doing only some testing himself by now (in this structure) but creating overviews of all sorts of things (bug syncs, Test Sheets, Communication, Mentoring,… ) he knew the overall complexity of a project and history of the found bugs and implemented features and the most of the content of the next 2 sprints.
  • 2-6 Intermediat or Junior QA Testers you would call it a regular QA Engineer. Going deep into the features, doing feature and regression testing and on some parts small automation parts for regresssion testing. They are the ones who worked closesed to the teams. Also 1 of the team was put into the project team to be at all meetings and syncs and were also the sync person from the other QA’s in his Team (they called it Agile QA). If they had questions or he needed answears that needed to be synced. That standin was rotating every sprint.

The QA Teams themself didn’t change very much. Maybe quarterly someone swapped teams because of knowledge transfer or interest. Or there was planned more workload which required more personall other teams got smaller and the team which needed help got bigger for a small time frame not even a fully week.

One more special point about QA as a Service.
We had the advantage that all projects worked pretty similar and had to use the same core mechanics. So we had a whole QA Automation Team which worked for all QA Teams.

  • Good thing everyone got automated.
  • Bad thing none had a full regression set in time and the QA Team always had to sycn with the Automation Team as they didn’t know the specialties about the Project they worked on.

King regards,
Loivado


(George) #8

Patrick (fury), here are a few questions for your consideration.

  • Are the 2 testers assigned to one product backing each other up? Can they?
  • Can an agile QA Lead, as in (b), back up some of the other testers? Would conferring that status set a good example for testers who are currently more focused?
  • Are there others in the company with sufficient skill to rotate into a test role for a few sprints, with an experienced tester? (This is the reverse of (a).) Perhaps this person could be a future backup? The person would learn more about the product, and maybe get good attention from the bosses?
  • In my earlier post I talked about a community, a group of people, rather than a management reporting structure. In my experience (and maybe your bosses’) a single QA-department works better in a large organization. Mixing roles in smaller, project-oriented teams tend to be more efficient for smaller programs. Can you talk with your bosses about options? How much could the organization get from a community interested in improving testing in your company?

And a few questions for Guy, Florian? to consider.

  • (Seriously, and with respect) do you expect the situation you describe to improve without action by the two QA managers? Is something preventing that?
  • Is it correct to say the high workloads for the 2 QA managers are a risk that needs to be reduced? Could a senior QA First pick up some of the QA manager load? Is there an intermediate QA to fill in for the QA First?
  • Are there two senior/intermediate QAs (one from each platform) who can learn about the platform differences, analyze and eventually manage them? This would need information transfer from the QA managers of course.
  • Can you and the other QA manager propose a solution to your boss(es), to mitigate the risks (workloads, missed defects, etc.)?

I hope this is helpful.


(Florian) #9

Thanks hattori,
call me what ever you like. :slight_smile:
I’m not sure if you mixed my 2 parts from my prior post. (The QA as a Service part was from another company situation. I will go on and answear it for my current situation.)

The situation as it is right now will not improve without interactions from us. Even if we would get further collegues we still would need to get a knowledge transfer into place.
The mangament simply doesn’t want to grow a QA department nor does it want to have more QA in any more positions right now. I made already several proposals to the CTO that we actually need more QA to fullfill all of our workload we have and reduce the workloads of each other by helping out when things go crazy, have the needed knowledge transfer etc. I’m not sure why they don’t want it, I guess it has todo something with keeping the dev team hirachies as low as possible or they wait until one of us QA Managers is ready to lead it. idk.
We both are the only QA in the whole company.

In a dream world we would simply hire 2 more QA.
1 Senior or Intermediate to cover the Service Softwares
1 Intermediate as a Standin which also could swap with us QA Managers to cover high workloads and create the knowledge transfer between the 2 platforms. There would probably still be knowledge left out for the Service Software as this one wouldn’t swap but that would be way more then what we have now.

It’s a rather small startup yet with “only” 16 Full Time devs, Plus some semi devs from BI which would actually need some covering too.


(George) #10

Hi Loivado,
Yes, I understood that QA as a Service was at a different, larger company – just tried to use your terms to be clear.
As you know, the much smaller company is a challenge because there are fewer options for matching needs with resources. People need to be versatile and switch hats often. To me, it makes sense for the organization’s hierarchy to be low or flat. And your management probably knows that the test job is too big for 2 QAs sometimes. (They know devs had to help with testing, right?)
Given that your management won’t increase the test staff now, I’d try to build good relations with other staff who can help with testing, so they are more willing and able to assist when needed. For example, is it possible to do some of the knowledge transfer before things go crazy, say with some notes or a short presentation?
Whatever you do, it’s important to get the support and buy-in from your management. They have the authority in the organization, and they need to see that the two QAs are trying to improve the process with available resources.
I know this is not easy with your current workload.


(Philipp) #11

Hay, i started a new job as test manager in an insurance company. I am the first QA guy, so i have to start from the bottom
The departure uses some automation tools and as bug tracker “MANTIS”. There is no Test Management Tool for writing Test Cases or generating reports. At my last company we used X-ray in Jira.
Do you have any suggestions for a tool (price does not matter)?

Greez
sobsi


(Mark) #12

If anyone has a Test Management challenge that they might benefit from talking through with someone, let me know … happy to help if I can :slight_smile:


(Charlotte) #13

I’ve just started in my 1st Test Team Manager role and again here like fury we have testers assigned to single products meaning if there is any sickness there is no one to cover work load.

The testers are staring to do pair testing when they get time to get knowledge about other products. I’m really trying to encourage this to give more options on who works on what. I’m even going to be learning a product myself so I can get hands on.

Do any of you have any other suggestions of how the team can share knowledge of products without taking too much time out of a Sprint?


(Jesper) #14

Hi Charlotte,

Perhaps use the “3 amigos”

Keep up working on “who works on what” to share the load and make testing less a bottleneck in the team


(Wayne) #15

Hi Charlotte,
There’s no pain free way to do this but as a test team manager staff development is also sat with you. (its not all testing!!! :slight_smile: )
So having your team take a “support” product to work on is a way of developing your staff and covering when your specialists are out. The method we use is simple mentoring.
Engineer A picks up the next test task normally done by Engineer B… Engineer B carries on with their normal work but acts as mentor for engineer A.
For us the tools are the same so its an easier exchange as Engineer A has the prerequisite skills to get started. Good engineers should get quite far on their own and just need guidance from Engineer B.
Its a good investment and worth the slowdown but make sure your team and the stakeholders are aware of the reasons and benefits before implementing it.
This works for us but might not work for all.
Good luck in your new role.
Wayne.


(Charlotte) #16

Thanks for this Wayne, this sounds like it could be something we could introduce into our pair testing sessions rather than a simple show around the sight. I’m also thinking that it would be more beneficial to keep our pairs the same for a few months so they are confident in the product before changing to another pair.