To Cert or Not To Cert: THAT Is The Question

“Certifications are a farce – they simply test your ability to cram for an exam,” cries one tester in a recent uTest forums exchange. “No way – certifications are extremely valuable and establish credibility to the testing world,” replies another tester.

And it goes on and on… As a witness to the ongoing debate, it’s clear that there may never be a meeting of the minds when it comes to certifications. It’s certainly been thought-provoking and entertaining to read through the vicious cycle of pros and cons supporting both camps. Here are several to spark more debate!

Pro-Certifications Camp:

  • They provide a base level of knowledge for those interested in the field, including terminology, processes, etc.
  • They help testing newbies get their foot in the door of the testing world
  • Certain organizations prefer to (or only) hire certified testers
  • Passing a certification means that one is serious about testing
  • Having a certification differentiates you from the crowd of software testers

Anti-Certifications Camp:

  • Certifications bodies take in top money to create certs that simply test your ability to cram for an exam and at best possess knowledge – as opposed to your problem solving skills and how to test
  • Passing such exams does not prove anything about testing skills & should not get your foot in the door for a job
  • Organizations that prefer certified testers are simply lazy about their interviewing process – looking for a piece of paper or label on the resume vs. looking at the candidates skill set
  • Passing a certification simply indicates that you are willing to take the time and money to complete a task
  • There are so many certified testers – so what differentiates one from another? More advanced certs? Where’s the limit?

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Version 3.0.3 – Attachment Viewer, Interactive Test Cycle Reports and More

New Englanders aren’t known for doing well in hot weather, and a recent heat wave has kept us all inside in the air conditioning. Since our engineers can’t go outside without melting or vaporizing, they’ve been inside keeping busy creating some cool new features. Let’s take a look:

Attachment Viewer
Our testers love uploading attachments with their bug reports.  Whether it’s a screenshot or a video, testers know that an attachment can make a bug report easier for our customers to understand and visualize.

Until now, customers have had to download every attachment individually and then open them on their desktops. To make this process faster and easier, we have launched a nifty new attachment viewer that works inside our platform. Now customers and testers can view video and image attachments with a single click, toggle between them easily, and download the ones you want to keep. And for non-multimedia files like spreadsheets and documents, we still make it easy to download the files and open them from your desktop.

Take a look at this short 30 second video showing off the new attachment viewer:
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Mobile Developers: Addicted to Beta Testing?

Safe to say that mobile app development has greatly outpaced mobile app testing over the last few years. In other words, while the applications and platforms have seen tremendous technological advances (iPhone 4 bugs notwithstanding) the same cannot be said of mobile testing methodologies.

Case in point: The majority of mobile app developers remain overwhelmingly reliant on internal beta testing.

Here with proof is VisionMobile, who recently published a fascinating report on the growing mobile app ecosystem – a must-read for anyone involved in the space (developers, marketers, users, etc). From a QA point of view, the report further establishes that although testing innovations will ALWAYS trail those of development, the gap need not be so wide.

Here’s an excerpt that sums the whole thing up:

Internal beta testing is the most popular technique used by the vast majority (nearly 70 percent) of respondents, with beta testing with users and peer reviewing the next most popular techniques. Only 20 percent of respondents use focus groups or research of their own. Overall, North American developers are somewhat more sophisticated in their application planning, with 97 percent using beta testing as a standard part of application development and with broader use of a portfolio of planning techniques as well.

Yet, small development firms have limited means today to beta test and peer review their applications with a crosssection of representative users. Given the hundreds of thousands of mobile apps, we believe that efficient (crowd-sourced) testing of apps in a global market of users is considerably under-utilized. This presents an opportunity for the few solution providers in this segment – Mob4Hire and uTest.com, for example – but also for network operators, who can generate a channel for testing applications with end users, and provide an open feedback support system back to developers.

Other notable findings included:

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uTest Makes ‘Top 100 Private Companies’ List (On Both The East & West Coasts!)

What an exciting way to wrap up the week here at uTest. As we continue to grow (and by grow, I mean in all aspects, including cool customers, brilliant testers and amazing staff) and expand into new areas of testing, the most renowned awards organizations are taking notice.

Late last night in San Diego…after an extensive review of our track record and our CEO Doron Reuveni’s on-site presentation, uTest was selected as a winner of the 2010 Red Herring 100 North America Award. The list honors the year’s most promising private tech ventures from North America. The companies were selected based on their technological innovation, management strength, market size, investor record, customer acquisition and financial health. Congrats to all other RH 100 winners, including our good friends at SOASTA!

This past Monday in Boston…uTest was also honored as an AlwaysOn East Top 100 winner, a list comprised of leading East Coast companies pioneering in cloud computing and SaaS technologies. uTest’s Matt Johnston was invited to present at the AlwaysOn East event (a.k.a. Venture Summit East) as part of a select group of top execs showcasing their technologies. Here’s the presentation below in case you missed it!

Thanks to all for following our adventures across the country this week!

Testing the Limits with James Whittaker – Part II

In the second part of our Testing the Limits interview with James Whittaker, we tackle Google vs. Microsoft; dogs vs. cats; why SCRUM is just a name; his advice for college graduates; bad habits of exploratory testing and more. If you missed Part I, you can find it here.

If you want to read more of James’ work, bookmarking the Google Testing Blog would be a good place to start. You can also read his 2009 book Exploratory Software Testing or check out some of his uTest eBooks and webinars.

uTest: The Microsoft vs. Google battle continues to play out very publicly in the media. Just last week, Computerworld wrote this story: “Microsoft: No Matter What Google Says, Windows Is Secure.” Having been at both companies, we think you have a unique perspective on this one. Any thoughts?

JW: Let me say right away that I enjoyed my time at Microsoft and admire the company and the smart people who work there. As a resident of Seattle, it is in my best interest for Microsoft to prosper! But the two companies are vastly different regarding the way their talent is managed and their products are built. Google is an engineering-centric company where innovation comes from individuals who are empowered to do whatever they need to get ideas into production. Much has been made of Google’s game-theory approach to managing people where rewards are given quickly for impactful behavior. It works. Morale is high and people work very hard and take quality very seriously.

Does this mean we produce more secure or more reliable products? We try hard to do so; Microsoft tries equally hard. I think we have the advantage of less legacy and a more modern and reliable platform (the Web as opposed to client operating systems) to work from. But the secret sauce at both companies is the same: hard work and due diligence.

uTest: You shared with us (as the pioneer of Testing the Limits posts) that your first assignment at Google was “To raise the level of testing precision and diligence.” So, how did it go?

JW: It didn’t take long. Google was mostly already there so I can’t really take credit for it. Now I am busy raising the bar further.

uTest: Top tester Glory Leung is curious: What are your views on SCRUM testing in general? Are people doing it properly? What is the ideal situation?

JW: Scrum is just a name. I don’t like names, they feel too confining and people have their own ideas of what they mean. I took a lot of flak for using the name ‘exploratory testing’ for my book. People love to confine you to how they view a specific named idea or technique. Flexibility is required.

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And Action! uTest Hits The Road: Boston to NYC to San Diego & Back

Whoever said “things slow down in the summertime” does not know uTest! Over the next couple of weeks, uTest is hitting the road again — trekking from the E2.0 Conference in Boston to the Venture Summit in NYC to Red Herring in San Diego and back!

Today @ 3:30pm: Matt Johnston will speak at the prolific Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston on the topic of — “You Say Social Media, I Say Community: Does It Matter?”

Panelists and community experts Eran Barak (Thomson Reuters), Michael Petillo (W.L. Gore), Megan Murray (Booz Allen Hamilton), Matt from uTest (of course!) and Moderator Rachel Happe (The Community Roundtable) will discuss the important distinctions between ‘social media’ and ‘community,’ and how they approach the challenges of utilizing social media and online communities in different types of organizations.

Thurs, June 17th @ 10:00am: Doron Reuveni will present at the exclusive 2010 New York Venture Summit. He will also be accepting — for the second year in a row — a “Top Innovator Award” by youngStartup Ventures, which recognizes cutting-edge private companies driving the future of innovation, especially in the tech sector. This event will be held at The Hotel Penn in New York City.

Stay tuned for next week’s adventures to San Diego and more from Boston!

uTest Opens West Coast Office

Today we’re excited to announce the grand opening of uTest’s west coast office in Sunnyvale, CA (a.k.a. Silicon Valley) — home to our fastest growing territory!

In addition to several uTest employees already based in the Bay Area, the new office will put some much needed “feet-on-the-street” to support our large roster of customers and partners on the west coast.

In 2010, uTest will add more project managers, sales and marketing employees to provide a personal presence and an even higher level of service to our customers.

Keep an eye on our careers page in the coming months for open positions (if you’re in the Boston area, we have open positions now)!

The Sunnyvale office joins uTest’s global teams, including uTest HQ near Boston and operations in London and Tel Aviv.

Version 3.0.2 – Tester Snapshots, Favorite Testers and More

Late last night, our engineering crew released version 3.0.2 of the uTest platform. This update contains several larger features and a bunch of small ones — all based on insights we gathered from our customers and testers. Here are a few of the highlights:

Favorite Tester
As customers run more and more test cycles, they often identify favorite testers they want to invite back again and again. These recurring relationships are good for customers and the testers alike. In the past, customers had to keep track of their favored testers by hand. But with our new favorite tester feature we’re making it easy for customers to remember the testers they like best, and to invite them back over and over.

Customers can now more easily see which testers participated in their past test cycles as well as how they performed. By clicking a yellow star icon next to a tester’s name, a customer can mark that particular tester as one of their favorites. When that customer runs a new test cycle, their favorite testers are placed at the top of the list, making inviting them back a snap.

Tester Snapshot
Wouldn’t it be nice for testers to have a place to show off their ratings along with an overview of their location, testing environment, and maybe a photo of themselves? With this launch we’ve made that idea a reality with our new tester snapshot feature.

Testers and customers can click on any tester’s name in the platform and see the public tester snapshot for that tester (location, testing environments and a photo). Testers who are rated or who have been marked as a favorite tester will also have some snazzy new badges that show off their uTest skills. This information can be viewed by other testers or customers.

If a tester clicks on their own name in the platform, they can also see their private tester snapshot (including past performance and earnings history). Just click “Statistics” and your private tester snapshot will display your past test cycles, your bug approval percentages and more. This information cannot be viewed by other testers or customers.

All the Rest
Other improvements include:

  • Improved workflow for submitting and approving test cases
  • More intelligent tester notification emails
  • Numerous performance tweaks
  • Dozens of bug fixes and other minor enhancements

Have a great idea for our future product releases? uTest community members can join our tester forums and check out our Platform Feedback section. Customers can contact their project manager directly or drop us a line.

1,000 Twitter Followers & 500 Facebook Likes Later…

Today I read a story about a woman who, while following Google Maps’ directions, was run over and is now suing Google for damages. So, my question to you is: Who are you following — and why?

At uTest, we’re just scratching the surface of  what’s possible in our “social media” efforts, but we’re excited that this past weekend we passed 1,000 Twitter Followers and 500 Facebook Likes!

So this post is simply to ask YOU — our terrific community, friends and readers — a few questions about what makes a company worth following or more interesting to you in the realm of social media:

  1. What type of content do you like most? Is it breaking news; thoughts from industry gurus; inside info from the company; jokes and funny stories; special promotions; or other?
  2. What makes you want to follow or “like” a company — particularly a B2B brand?
  3. Are there other B2B or SaaS companies who are doing cool stuff and making all the right moves?  Give ‘em some love and tell the world about them in the comments!

We would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and insights around this topic. And if you have a moment, please follow us (we promise we won’t run you over!).

To Crowdsourcing Friends, Foes & Fanatics: Just How Loyal Is Your Community?

Depending upon who you ask, crowdsourcing is either evil, revolutionary, or a next gen of internships.

But one thing that ALL crowdsourcing companies like to preach is how loyal and trustworthy and professional their community is. I know because I’ve read it in 100 different sites. Hell, I’ve written it a 100 different times here at uTest. So why do crowdsourcing companies insist upon telling the world how loyal and earnest their community is?  Maybe it’s to assuage the fears of prospective customers about entrusting their logo design, app development, content production or marketing to a community of strangers. Maybe it’s because if marketers say it enough times, we hope it’ll come true.

The more pessimistic view is that people — cloaked in the anonymity of the web — often act in greedy, selfish, mean-spirited ways (this perspective didn’t make it into the crowdsourcing brochure, by the way). Such dark behavior is well-documented and takes the form of flame wars on message boards, bullying via social media and online fraud.

So which is it — are people good-natured and honest?  Or are they money-hungry malcontents who will do anything to get ahead, as long as they don’t get caught?  Obviously it depends on the people, but I learned the truth about our community this week — and it was a lesson we learned the hard way.

A little background:  At uTest, we pay our testers twice per month via PayPal or Payoneer. And at this point in our growth, each pay cycle involves a non-trivial amount of cash — pretty deep into the five-figure range.  Now, it’s not easy or flattering to admit this, but in our most recent pay cycle, we experienced a glitch that caused us to pay our testers twice. That’s right folks, it was double payday here at uTest!

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