Women Testers – October 2014 Edition is Out! How to Keep Yourself Organized When There are Too Many Demands on Your Time!
I hope you take an opportunity to read the latest edition of Women Testers! For this edition I have an article called: How to Keep Yourself Organized When There are Too Many Demands on Your Time! I plan on writing a second part to this article and would appreciate any questions or feedback that could be addressed in the next edition of Women Testers.
If you would like to submit an article for a future edition or help out in any way, please contact Jyothi Rangaiah at email@example.com and you can find more information by clicking here. Enjoy the magazine and please let people know about it including women who might be interested in a tech career!
Recently, I had a high school student spend two-days in the Testing department to gain a basic understanding of what testing is all about. Most of us know the challenges of explaining a Testers’ responsibilities without making it look too easy or so difficult that you completely lose them. Some of these challenges are discussed in a prior posting that you can find here. If you are hosting a shadowing day or any similar opportunity, below are a few ideas to get you started.
I would like to thank the following people who contributed to providing suggestions and links to potential training material. Griffin Jones, Teri Charles, Jennifer Hannon, and Stephen Becht.
- Create an initial agenda and identify a few alternatives. During the shadowing program there might be a need to change direction based upon how the person is reacting to the information. Some material might progress more quickly than expected. Other material you might decide is not appropriate once you get to know him better. Plus remember to have fun. Do not make it so serious or intense that you lose him! And make it interactive to keep him engaged.
- Create a Testers’ Profile by asking the Software Testers to answer a few questions on how they selected testing as a career, what they enjoy about their job, and what advice they would give a new Tester. Compile the information in a newsletter or some other fun format to provide as a take away. Host a conversation where the Testers can discuss their careers so he has an opportunity to ask questions. Try to maintain a casual environment. Look for a location that has comfortable chairs like a coffee break room or a conference room that is not the board room.
- Guru 99 has free software testing videos that last from about 1-minute to 5-minutes. They are basically snippets of information with some of them having small exercises to perform. Once the video is completed, discuss any questions and relate the material to something that he is familiar such as Facebook, Twitter etc. Reinforcing the material is important.
- Whodunnit? This video is a lot of fun providing some great opportunities for a conversation afterwards. Before playing the video instruct him to write down his observations. Do not watch the end of the video until he writes down observations on what has changed during the murder investigation. Consider replaying the beginning part of the video a few times so he can have a chance to find what has changed. Most people are surprised when they find out how much has changed during that short video.
- Basketball Awareness Test: Moonwalking Bear. From an awareness perspective a Tester may notice something that does not make sense or is out of scope. At that point, the Tester has to make a decision. Go down the new path to explore or quickly note the observation returning back to the original test. An interesting conversation – if you do not notice the moonwalking bear what does that mean? Is it good or is it bad?
- Easy Button Exploratory Testing by James and Jonathan Bach. This is a great video since it uses a lot of the testing terms in a fun manner. A great option for after lunch when he might be feeling that carb sleepiness. If possible purchase an Easy Button to reproduce some of the tests and relate them to your Testing department.
- Cast 2011 Promo 2 Video. Another video by James and Jonathan Bach. The Hidden Puzzle is very interesting since each Tester took different test paths to identify the picture. If possible, recreate the Hidden Puzzle exercise with him and include a few Testers. How did each person approach the testing? Who found the hidden picture? How many tests did it take? This could be a fun exercise while providing some real insight on testing.
- Steve McQueen, Consulting Software Tester. A short scene from the Towering Inferno with subtitles relating to Testing. It is best to play the video and then play it again but pausing at different times for a discussion.
- TestBash 2.0 – A-Galumphing We Go James Bach. A longer video. After watching it determine how you will evaluate if he is ready for the material.
- Open Lecture by James Bach on Software Testing. This video is longer and could work well if you stop it at different points for a discussion.
- Brain Focus and other similar exercises are great since they can parallel testing in terms of understanding the requirements, working through different testing paths, and the potential danger of making assumptions. When appropriate create a decision table / tree or other diagram similar to how your team approaches a testing problem.
- Create an exercise form with discussion questions for the videos or other material to be reviewed. This helps foster a conversation between each exercise and provides a place for him to take notes.
And most importantly… do not forget the food! Cookies, donuts, candy, going out for lunch… food is always a nice touch!
Let me know if you have any other ideas on how we might sponsor a shadowing or internship for a student whether high school or college to introduce them to Software Testing!
Recruiting and onboarding new testers are two of the more difficult tasks in a Testing department. From a recruitment standpoint you are looking for someone who will be a good fit within the team with the ability to learn how to test your product and any technical skills required. Once you made the hiring decision it is important to develop and evolve an onboarding program. I find that you never create an onboarding program and it is done. Instead it evolves over time and you might need to make minor changes based upon the person you hire and their experience. For example, for someone who has never tested, you will need to provide training on the testing techniques used in your department. If the new tester has experience then you want to ensure you demonstrate how you apply testing techniques since different companies can use terminology to mean something different.
In Tea-time with Testers, I wrote the article “Onboarding New Testers” that you can find in their November 2011 edition. This posting is going to discuss onboarding testers from a slightly different perspective.
When developing your onboarding program, think of it in terms of what do they need to know and when do they need to know it. This can help you define a program that is manageable plus provides some guidelines for expectations. Consider creating a training log with anticipated timelines to help the tester manage his/her time and add self-study tasks to ensure down time is used wisely. For example you might set initial goals for the first 90-days, 6-months, and at 1-year. I will discuss this in more detail in a later posting.
Prior to the new tester starting, be sure his/her workstation is set up, a computer is available, access to the correct systems is approved, and any other appropriate activities are completed. Be sure the new tester knows what time to show up on his/her first day and who to ask for when arriving.
The first day is often about the employee completing HR paperwork and reviewing and signing documents such as security policies. The tester should log into email, calendar system, and any other important systems that they need to use immediately. It is helpful to work out any problems the first day with logging into systems, ensuring they can print documents, and other similar tasks. Some companies have a formal HR onboarding program where the employee may or may not have time with his/her new department. I have worked for companies where the morning is dedicated to a company onboarding program and in the afternoon you join your new department.
Determine what they should be learning during their first week. For example, this is a good time to pair with another tester to learn the testing process, meet the developers, BAs and other people they will have interaction. Define your goal for the first week and develop a plan around that goal.
For each month, define a goal of what they should know by the end of that month and then create a plan around that goal. This goal might be different depending upon the person you hire. During the interview process you want to identify how much testing experience and technical experience the candidate has in order to develop a training plan before their first day. Keep in mind this plan can change based upon how quickly or slowly the new employee learns. You may have to include additional training material once you assess the employee’s learning progress. Or you might find it will not take as long as originally anticipated and you can accelerate the learning process. Remember the onboarding program is an initial plan and it should be a living document.
Of course you will need to follow any Human Resources onboarding program, but they may not have a program specifically to train software testers. This is where you can develop your own program to help integrate the new tester into your team and company.
As part of my series on developing your leadership skills, I am sharing my thoughts on the book – Gung Ho!: Turn on the People in Any Organization by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. It is a book I read earlier in my career and found it helpful then and still relevant after all these years.
Gung Ho! is a book that you can easily read in an evening or two. It is written as a parable intended to help you tap into what motivates employees or team members. This book is easy to read and filled with common sense appropriate for anyone leading a small team, department, division, or a company. The approaches in this book are good for leading a team that has low morale. You should be able to learn new ideas to tap into the strengths of your team. Or you might refresh your memory on these approaches providing inspiration to tap into them again.
We are introduced to a plant that is in major trouble. Productivity and morale is low and most likely will close in about a year’s time. A new General Manager is appointed and she teams up with an Operations Manager who turned his department around with an approach called “Gung Ho”. The goal was to spread this concept throughout the plant over the next year in order to save it from closing. Gung Ho is based upon three principles to boost enthusiasm and performance in a work group or organization. The three principles include: the Spirit of the Squirrel; the Way of the Beaver; and the Gift of the Goose.
The Spirit of the Squirrel represents teamwork. If you ever watched a group of squirrels before winter they work hard as a team. They have a goal to gather and store food; otherwise they will not survive the winter. Translate to: worthwhile work leading to shared goals.
The Way of the Beaver represents controlling your own destiny and deciding how work is to be completed. If you watch a group of beavers you will notice there is not a leader. They work hard to get the job done; however how are they accomplishing their goal without a leader? Translate to: in control of achieving the goals.
The Gift of the Goose represents encouragement. Geese travel in a V format with a goose leading them. Periodically a different goose will lead. While they are flying the geese will honk to encourage one another. Translate to: cheering others on.
Overall this translates to: power of meaningful work; empowering team members; and the exponential factor of motivation. Taking these three simple concepts can help you take a team to higher productivity while providing meaningful work and empowering them to make decisions. Even though these concepts are simple in nature, they can be difficult to implement. Start with providing meaningful work to your team and be sure they have a shared goal. Perhaps they do not understand the meaning or purpose behind their work. How can you bridge that gap? Once they have a shared goal, how can they take more control on deciding the best way to approach their assignments? They are closer to the work being performed and most likely have great ideas on how to complete the tasks. Do not confuse mentoring and coaching your team with dictating how to complete the job. Lastly, encourage your team. Provide positive feedback on their accomplishments. It can be easy to fall into the trap of only providing feedback when something goes wrong. Celebrate the team’s success when they meet milestones or major deliverables.
You can purchase this book on Amazon.
How can you take these three simple concepts to start changing your leadership style? For me, it is a good refresher to review these concepts. I will challenge myself to see where I can make changes in each of these areas.