Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Modern Testing Teams and Strategies - a 1 1/2 armed #LiveBlog from #STPCON Spring 2018

One of the fun part of being a "recidivist conferencist" is that we get to develop friendships and familiarity with speakers we get to see over several years. Mark Tomlinson and I share a ridiculous amount of history both in the testing world and personal endeavors, ao I always enjoy seeing what he is up to and what he will talk about at any given event. This go-around, it's "Testing Teams and Strategies" so here we go...

Does it seem common that the people who decide what you do and how you do it have NO IDEA what it is you actively do? I'm fortunate that that is not so much the issue today but I have definitely lived that reality in the past. It's annoying, to be sure, but often it comes down to the fact that we allow ourselves to be pigeonholed. The rate of change is insane and too often we think that we are being thrown into the deep end without a say if what happens to us. If we don't take some initiative, that will continue to happen to us.

I've had the opportunity over the past (almost) three decades to work in small teams, big teams, distributed teams, solo, and freelance. Still, in most of my experiences, I've been in what I call part of "the other" organization. That's because I've worked almost exclusively as a tester in those three decades (my combined time as a cable monkey, administrator and support engineer equals up to less than four total years and even in those capacities I did a lot of testing). Point being, I've spent more time as part of another organization that has been siloed. It's a relatively new development that I'm working on a team that's both small enough and focused enough where I'm actually embedded in the development team now. As a point of comparison, my entire development team is seven people; three programmers, three testers, and one manager. Really, that's our entire engineering team. That means that there is too much work and not enough people for anyone to be siloed. We all have to work together and in reality, we do. My role as a Tester has dramatically modified and the things I do that fall outside of the traditional testing role is growing every day.

if I had to put a name on our type of team, I'd probably have to describe us as a blended group of "Ronin", meaning we are a relatively fluid lot with a host of experiences and we are ultimately "masterless". If something needs a champion, it's not uncommon for any of us to just step up and do what's needed. The funny part is Mark just put up the "non-team testing team" and basically just defined what I just wrote. Ha!!!

OK, so teams can be fluid, that's cool.  So how do we execute? Meaning, what is the strategy? To be clear, a strategy means we deliver a long-term return on investment, align resources to deliver,  arrange type and timing of tactics and make sure that we can be consistent with our efforts. Ultimately, we need a clear objective as well as a strategy to accomplish the objective. Sounds simple but actually being concrete with objectives and developing a clear method of accomplishing them is often anything but. In my opinion, to be able to execute to a strategy, we have to know what we can accomplish and what we need to improve on or develop a skill for. Therefore a skills analysis is critical as a first step. From there, we need to see how those skills come into play with our everyday activities and apply them to make sure that we can execute our strategy with what we have and develop what we need to so that we can execute in the future.

(still editing, refresh to see the latest :) )

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