Testing the Limits with Andrew Muns, President of STP (part 2)

This is the second half of our recent interview with Andrew Muns (@amuns), the president of Software Test & Performance.  Today, we’ll cover his thoughts on how testers can get more respect, predicting STP’s future, and who would win in a fight between James and Jon Bach.  If you missed it, check out the first half of the interview.

uTest: Testing is often viewed as a behind-the-scenes profession. What can testers do to bring their Andrew_Munscraft to light and make sure others understand the value?

A: Upper management at most companies may never truly understand what a test department contributes, especially since a contribution by definition goes unnoticed (i.e., something worked as expected.)  To me this sounds like a cultural issue: how to translate the value of testing into manager-speak.  Managers like things they can measure, so speaking their language means associating a measurable value on something vital but difficult to observe.

Software Test & Performance magazine has written many features on this question, but as a manager more than a tester, here is one argument I like (that applies more to consumer-facing applications): explain QA as a marketing function.  How much does your company spend on marketing?  Why would testing merit less investment?  I bet your company would spend a lot to spread positive word-of-mouth from users.  Shouldn’t management be willing to spend the same amount or more to avoid negative word-of-mouth?  As United Airlines learned after breaking a customer’s guitar, negative word of mouth can be viral.

Critically, neither this argument, nor any other, will be made if testers themselves don’t make it!

uTest: Is James Bach really as smart as we think he is?  Who would win in a fight between him and his brother, Jon?

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Testing the Limits with Andrew Muns, President of STP (part 1)

In the latest installment of our “Testing the Limits” series, we sat down with Andrew Muns (@amuns) the President of Software Test & Performance (of STP Magazine and STPCon fame), to discuss how testers are perceived by execs and developers, the future of media companies, and the changes that are underway at STP.  This is the first half of our chat; check back Thursday for part two.

uTest:  STPCon is being held this October in Cambridge, MA… what do you have in store for the attendees this year?

Andrew: This is the first conference that will have been planned start STP_Collaborativeto finish by Redwood Collaborative Media and was designed according to our very simple philosophy: “ask your audience what they want and give it to them.”  The show’s program was designed largely  based on a survey in which we asked two things, what topics are most important to you and who do you want to hear from.

The most requested topics among our readers were Test Automation, Performance Testing, Test Management and Agile.  We’ve built a five track program with specialized training and workshops for each of these four areas, plus a track we call “FutureTest.”  The concept of FutureTest is to take a look ahead to emerging tools, technologies and practices – to help our members stay on the cutting edge of the testing industry.

We’ve got only all-stars here (check out the full roster) plus a keynote by a NASA astronaut, Mike Mullane, who will talk about leadership and the organizational culture that led to one of the most tragic QA mistakes in history: the O-ring of the space shuttle Challenger.  Michael Bolton, will then use this story as a launching point (pardon the pun) to talk about test leadership.  It’s going to be a phenomenal event.

uTest:  You recently launched STPCollaborative.com. Tell us the purpose of this site and what’s so different about it.

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Testing the Limits with James Whittaker (part two)

This is the second half of our recent interview with testing guru, James Whittaker.  Today, we’ll cover his new book, his new gig and what he sees over the horizon in the world of software testing.  If you haven’t read it already, check out the first half of the interview.

uTest:  And when all is said and done what will be the professional accomplishment you’ll look back on with the most pride?

JW:  Creating an actual discipline around software quality. Note I said quality and not testing. I want software projects as a whole to run more smoothly and more predictably. I really think that’s what software testing is all about — reducing the uncertainty of software development and finding ways to muscle errors out of the process. A process in which mistakes are harder than doing the right thing is the ultimate goal. We can’t eliminate them, but we can make doing the right thing to be the easiest thing to do.

uTest:  What’s your first assignment at Google?

JW:  To raise the level of testing precision and diligence. Google has a lot of smart testers, my job is to help mold them into a serious fighting force and let our bugs beware. But this isn’t so much an individual commitment. Google has a culture of collaboration that I am fascinated by as a Noogler.

We share offices (which might explain their interview strategy), inhabit common areas, collaborate constantly and work as a community. If I am successful, there will be many people who can take credit and if I fail, I won’t go down alone! I think the whole free food thing is at the heart of this as food is often the centerpiece for bringing people together. Lots of work gets done while your mouth is full. I hope to succeed before I have to buy bigger clothes.

uTest:  Rumor has it that you have a new book coming out.  What’s it about and when will it hit Amazon’s shelves?

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uTest Relaunch in the News!

The word is out!  With the launch of our revamped website, a new “Meet the Testers” application and Tester Forums, last week uTest made significant strides in turning our crowd of 16,000+ QA professionals into an interactive community.

Here’s what the media had to say:

  • crowdsourcingformatted1Jeff Howe, author of best-selling book Crowdsourcing & contributing editor at Wired Magazine, twittered the news to his 2,000 followers calling us out as a Company to Watch.

Other notable posts at  StickyMinds.com, the Cloud Architect, and MSNBC.com.

Let us know what you think about the new site!

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uTest Hitting The Road This Week

This evening, Doron Reuveni will be joining a new meetup here in Boston called the Ultra Light Startups. The meetup is a resource for entrepreneurs to share best practices for launching tech startups. The topic is near andultralight dear to our hearts: Crowdsourcing. If you’re in the neighborhood, come join us at Boston University at 595 Comm. Ave. Doors open at 6pm! Questions the panelists (Local Motors, Acquia, GeniusRocket and uTest) will tackle:

  • What is crowdsourcing?
  • What are the benefits?
  • Why is it a disruptive model?
  • What are the most effective ways to build communities?

Doron will also be flying down to Orlando to present at STAREAST 2009 on Thursday morning. His presentation will introduce this new era of community-based software testing and delve into how companies can launch higher quality apps while staying within budget through crowdsourcing. Challenges like shorter release cycles, increased customer expectations, smaller budgets and fewer testing resources are forcing us to rethink our stareastQA methods.

Doron will discuss how crowdsourced testing helps to meet these challenges head on. Here’s your chance to take the kids to Disney and be a part of the largest and most advanced testing forum to keep you up on the latest trends, technologies, and strategies in the industry today. Shoot us a note if you’ll be down there!

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