Friday, January 17, 2020

Burned by Thunderbird 68? Here's How to Get Your e-mails Back!

One of my "Randy-isms" is "Just because you are ready to release the code doesn't mean the user is ready to accept it."

That played out for me today when I opened Thunderbird for Mac and it auto-installed the most recent release (68.4.1).

Immediately, I noticed all my e-mail accounts and e-mails within them were gone, gone, gone. Deep breaths....

So, I looked into this release and saw, "Thunderbird version 68.4.1 provides an automatic update from Thunderbird version 60." However, that was not the case for me and I suspect it may not be the case for others.

You must understand that I don't do "Inbox Zero". In fact, my inbox is my history for many things I do (along with the thousands of pictures on my phone). So, I was somewhat panicked.

However, I knew the e-mail files were there, just not being seen by the new version. Plus, I have redundant backups, so I knew I could get everything back. And...the beauty of the Mac is that you can just run the app with no install process like in Windows.

I managed to find the old version at https://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/thunderbird/releases/

I downloaded version 60.9.1 (you will need to navigate through the sub-folders to get the right language version).

I opened it and instantly had access to all my e-mails.

The new version (68.4.1) looks great, but it was useless to me. I hope it works for me better in future releases. But for now, I have "auto update" turned off!

I hope this helps you!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Learn Selenium IDE and WebDriver at Your Desk in 2 Days - July 1 & 2, 2019

If you are looking to get a well-rounded education in Selenium IDE and WebDriver, then please check out the July event - Selenium IDE and WebDriver Workshop, July 1 and 2, 2019. This is a live virtual class I will be personally teaching. Enrollment is open until Friday, June 21.

That's right. We will cover both Selenium IDE and WebDriver in 2 days. You will learn by doing. For more info and to register -
https://mysoftwaretesting.com/Selenium-IDE-and-WebDriver-Workshop_p_108.html

Don't miss out on this opportunity!

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

29 Years Ago Today...

29 years ago today, I started on my first contract/consulting project here in Oklahoma City. We had been living in Olathe, KS for two years while I learned a lot about QA and testing while working at Home Office Reference Lab. But, we were ready to move back home to OKC closer to friends and family. There were no testing jobs here, so God and I created one! 

That first project was a magnificent failure and taught me a lot. It has been an amazing journey taking Janet and me, and our sons, around the world as I taught and consulted software testing to a multitude of really great people. Taking that step was one of the scariest things I ever did. No safety net at all. 

I am thankful to God for the great times and the low times, and to my family for putting up with it all, especially the travel with me away so much. The road life isn't all that glamorous. The money isn't always there, either. 

I am thankful I was able to see the apex of testing and quality. Sadly, it is not what it used to be. 

I am so thankful to my wife, Janet for her unwavering support in so many ways. Finally, I am thankful to all my friends and clients (it's great when they are the same people) for your support all these years. Thanks to my mentors as well for helping me keep perspective. 

I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I know the One who holds it! Thank you!

Thursday, May 09, 2019

What the April 2019 U.S. Jobs Report Means for Software Test Managers and Leaders


Last week (May 3, 2019) saw great economic news as published in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ April 2019 report.  In April, 2019, the unemployment rate dropped to 3.6% (the lowest since 1969) with over 263,000 new non-farm jobs added. Also significant was the prior March report with 196,000 jobs added. That is great news, indeed. But, like with so many things, there are implications along with these numbers.

Without taking away anything from this great report, it is important to remember that it is a snapshot, which will change in future reports, either up or down. Also, there are other economic indicators that show not-so-great things, like historic levels of consumer debt. And, as with any metric, there are nuances.

I have had two bug problems for many years with how these general numbers are reported: 1) the quality of the jobs are not factored in, so they could be skewed toward minimum wage jobs, for example. 2) The unemployment rate is only based on people that are currently receiving unemployment compensation, not on people who may be unemployed but not on assistance. There are sub-metrics that do address things like people who have “given up” looking for work, etc., but those are hardly ever reported in the media.

With that being said, and with no particular political position taken, plus I am not an economist (although with their track record of forecasting, I think I could do as well), I offer my analysis.

Since software testing and QA is my focus, I have been thinking about what this means for testers and test managers. In this article I focus on impact on test managers and leaders. I am simultaneously publishing an article for the impact on testers.

By the way, the impact is not just about economics. There are forces both now and ahead that will drive the need for development and testing skills at numbers we have never seen before. These forces include digital transformations of legacy systems (including the move to virtualized data centers), connected devices and Internet of Things applications, cybersecurity challenges, Robotic Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence and the effective creation and maintenance of test automation - all of which will need tested.

Big Questions to Ask and Answer

Your company is probably already involved with, or planning, many new projects. You face some big questions.

1.     How can we get the people we need, when we need them, and for as long as we need them?

2.     How will we keep our team(s) if they leave for better opportunities?

3.     Even if we keep the team(s) intact, how will we find new people we need in a tight job market?

4.     How can we keep up with rapid development that never stops sprinting?

5.     How can we help our company make the best of the business opportunities?

Here are some thoughts, given the current economy and marketplace.

New Options Are Available To Finding Resources


In the last twenty or more years, offshore outsourcing has been a quick and easy way to fill staffing gaps, especially in software testing and QA. However, merely outsourcing testing tasks has been shown to have significant drawbacks, such as:
  • Lack of transparency as to the work being performed, who is doing the work, and how proprietary content is being safeguarded
  • Lack of testing training and competency
  • Lack of critical thinking on the part of the testers
  • Little sense of teamwork between the customer company and outsourcer company (offshore or near-shore)
  • Lower overall value of the work due to fewer defects found and less valuable information about the software being tested
  • Uncertain and unpredictable outcomes from the testing effort
  • Communication problems between the customer company and the outsourcing company

Testing should be a “whole team” activity. Everyone on a project (developers, users, testers, management, and others) has a role in testing whether they realize it or not. When testing is seen as just one team’s job, some aspects of testing will be incomplete.

Co-sourcing has emerged as a solution.  This is an innovation that takes outsourcing to a new level. The testers are remote, but there is an expert that is in the US and can be connected to you and your team to make sure work flows smoothly and you get the results you need. Instead of individuals, you get a fully training and certified team, tailored to your needs. Rice Consulting is the exclusive provider of this service in the USA.

Co-sourcing involves independent testers in a way that brings the whole team approach closer to a company than traditional outsourcing. This is achieved by close communication with the co-sourcing team, led by an on-shore testing expert.

In response to the challenge of diminishing returns from traditional outsourced test delivery (the mere execution of tests and reports without analysis), the co-sourcing model is based on Dedicated Product Test Teams.

It is obvious that more eyes catch more defects, but more than that, effective teamwork creates value greater than the sum of its parts.  This is achieved by building and sustaining a collaborative culture conducive to critical thinking, questioning and clear communication.

Instead of having ten individual testers designing and conducting tests, consider a team of ten people critically thinking about the application, brainstorming, designing and performing tests and providing feedback – all led by highly experienced test leaders.

To learn more about co-sourcing, please visit https://www.riceconsulting.com/co-sourcing

Keeping the Team…and Improving Them

The Rise of “The Career Nomad”

A new trend is the “career nomad”. My friend, Tom Staab, brought this to me attention recently. This is a person that moves from job to job, either inside a company or between companies to accelerate their advancement. In my day, it was called “job hopping.” I did it and my parents were very concerned about it, but in the programming field it was the way to advance. The other option was to work for 20 years at one place and hope your boss moves on and you get the slot. But, there were no guarantees for that, either.

It takes a good economy to make the career nomad approach work, but working it is, right now. To get an idea of the scope, a true career nomad will have over 20 jobs in a career.

The key takeaway here is that the stigma is going away from moving jobs too often. Employers are realizing this is the new reality. Actually, many employers helped create this new reality by layoffs and poor management. The old mindset was, “Let ‘em go…we’ll find more.” Not so, today - at least, not full-time employees in tech.

Yet, there are ways to retain talent., such as:

Investing in Their Skills

The most-mentioned thing I hear from testers is that getting funding for training and conferences is a major way companies tangibly show investment.

An interesting thing has happened over recent years in the radical shift toward virtual learning. Because of this shift, department training budgets have shifted to individual training budgets, with the individual having more choice in the training. This definitely meets individual needs, especially in smaller shops and those in remote areas. And…many companies just feel they don’t have the time for live training events for QA, test, developers, etc. I have seen virtual training work extremely well, which is why I offer over 30 e-Learning and live virtual courses at https://www.mysoftwaretesting.com.

However, this shift to virtual does come at an expense in two ways: 1) Some people just don’t like virtual training. They have a preference for a live in-person classroom experience. 2) Live classroom courses and workshops provide an opportunity for the team to learn and experience together, as a team. This results in a very important thing – getting everyone on a common footing of terminology and practice. I prefer workshops that emphasize immediate application of the concepts learned. In fact, I offer the option in my workshops to work on your own projects.

True, some companies don’t invest in people for fear they will leave. That’s a risk, but it’s also a circular argument because they might well leave anyway for lack of investment. I say, take the chance. The cost of training can be easily recouped by the efficiency and effectiveness gained by the person applying the practices learned in training. I know, I’ve seen it.  And, this is another reason that team training events makes sense in that it shares the knowledge investment in a group, rather than individuals.

Let’s just take the average cost of a post-production defect in the US at $5,000 as an example. Just catching one of those defects due to something learned in training would pay for 2 – 3 people to attend training in some format.

Or, it could be like the major government agency where I trained testers, developers, BAs and senior leadership for two days at an off-site event. As a result, my client told me later that the UAT effort on the next project only required two cycles of testing instead of the usual three. He credited that to the things they learned in training, plus the synergy of everyone learning them together. Each cycle of testing cost them around $40,000. That paid for the training multiple times over!

But, the bottom line remains the same. A major way to attract and keep team members is to invest in them.

Improving Motivation by Improving How Work is Done

People get very de-motivated and disengaged when they feel they are doing a bad job due to the way work is done. In fact, the numbers of disengaged workers is very high – around 85% according to a Gallup poll. That is depressing news!

There is a misperception that testing slows delivery down. I call it a misperception because it is often not the activity of testing, but the use of ineffective and inefficient testing practices, automated or not, that causes problems.

It is management’s responsibility to address and fix broken processes. But, in many cases management doesn’t even know the testing process is broken. The focus today is on speed, with the other misperception that automation alone will make testing go faster.

The real culprit besides broken processes is defects found too late.

Now that I have talked so much about training, I need to walk back a step…

When it comes to process improvement, the first step is not training – it is an assessment of where you are. Any training before that is likely to meet the real needs of improvement.

Transforming the Culture

A major reason people join or leave a company is the culture. Bad culture is also a major reason for disengagement.

Changing a culture is hard. Transforming a culture is even tougher, but it can be done. Most companies will not make the change and that is why they remain toxic and dysfunctional. That’s why it’s so hard to keep good people in these companies.

The only way I know to transform a corporate culture is a shake-up from the very top. However, I have seen teams form islands of great team culture, even in a sea of dysfunction. Here is how they did it…

1.              They had a leader who understood people and their needs, including the business stakeholders.
2.              Each person on the team was a respected “resident expert.” Whenever a decision was needed, they deferred to the resident expert as much as possible.
3.              They collaborated in a great way.
4.              They really didn’t get pulled into the negativity of the corporate culture. The leader was a buffer for much of that. By the way, the other teams who were highly dysfunctional thought this team was weird.
5.              The team delivered quality on time, every time.

As I look back on this one example, years later, I realize I was looking at an agile team before the term “agile” was associated with software development.

Finding New People

It is getting harder and harder in some markets to find the right people for your needs. This is a major expense, in both time and money. It costs over $4,000 just to hire one person on average, over a period of 30 or more weeks. And those numbers were before the recent events!

Companies will need to re-evaluate their hiring approaches, including cutting back on the massive laundry lists that so many companies post these days. In some job postings I have seen, no individual tester could possibly meet all of them. I suggest keeping expectations realistic and trying to hit the 80% mark of desired skills.

Consider co-sourcing, as mentioned above, as an alternative to full-time employees. For more information, just contact me.

Keeping up With Rapid Development

Many people tend to see this as a resource issue. And, it could be, in some cases. However, I have been researching tester-to-developer ratios since 2000 and have found that just about any ratio can work with the right balance of tools, people and processes.

If your development and testing processes are inefficient, more people just makes it worse.

Co-sourcing with an initial process and tool assessment is a great way to get a grip on keeping up with rapid development and testing. I have seen massive improvement in weeks after making some very fundamental process changes and getting the right people involved.

Making the Best of Business Opportunities

Really, this is where everything hinges and is the pain point for many people in the C-suites. The execs want to beat a competitor to market, but the development manager says it will require months to build and test that product.

This is where a company must be very strategic and agile by shifting priorities to give the highest business value. Shipping incomplete and faulty products is not a workable strategy, as you may actually lose customers with that practice.

This is also where a fine-tuned process and scalable workforce comes into play. Process improvement aligned with co-sourcing can provide the resources when needed, to build and deliver a quality product to market, even in a very constrained resource market.

Summary

Here are the key takeaways from the current economic news:

1.              A significant number of people are changing jobs, which can be good for the individual, but leaves gaps in the companies they leave.
2.              Career nomads are a trend which places a greater burden on companies to work harder to keep good people.
3.              There are fewer QA and Test professionals in the open market to hire, so employers will need to explore alternative options.
4.              The future holds a massive technology challenge as the convergence of several waves all hit at once. It will make Y2K seem like a “normal” project.
5.              Trying to meet these challenges with ineffective and inefficient processes combined with inadequate resources is a recipe for failure.

The good news is that there are answers. If you would like to learn how to get on top of the situation as opposed to being whipped by it, just call (405-691-8075) or write me today.


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What the April 2019 U.S. Jobs Report Means for Software Testers and QA Professionals


Last week (May 3, 2019) saw great economic news as published in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ April 2019 report.  In April, 2019, the unemployment rate dropped to 3.6% (the lowest since 1969) with over 263,000 new non-farm jobs added. Also significant was the prior March report with 196,000 jobs added. That is great news, indeed. But, like with so many things, there are implications along with these numbers.

Without taking away anything from this great report, it is important to remember that it is a snapshot, which will change in future reports, either up or down. Also, there are other economic indicators that show not-so-great things, like historic levels of consumer debt. And, as with any metric, there are nuances.

I have had two big issues for many years with how these numbers are reported: 1) the quality of the jobs are not factored in, so they could be skewed toward minimum wage jobs, for example. 2) The unemployment rate is only based on people that are currently receiving unemployment compensation, not on people who may be unemployed but not on assistance. There are sub-metrics that do address things like people who have “given up” looking for work, etc., but those are hardly ever reported in the media.

With that being said, and with no particular political position taken, plus I am not an economist (although with their track record of forecasting, I think I could do as well), I humbly offer my analysis.

Since software testing and QA is my focus, I have been thinking about what this means for testers and test managers. In this article I focus on impact on testers. I am simultaneously publishing an article for the impact on test managers.

By the way, the impact is not just about economics. There are forces both now and ahead that will drive the need for development and testing skills at numbers we have never seen before. These forces include digital transformations of legacy systems (including the move to virtualized data centers), connected devices and Internet of Things applications, cybersecurity challenges, Robotic Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence and the effective creation and maintenance of test automation - all of which will need tested.

As a tester, this is an opportunity to go for a better position.

I can’t tell you how many people (including test leaders) that have confided in me over the last ten years, “Once the economy improves, I’m outta here!” Much of that is due to frustrations with their current manager and/or company.

Perhaps you, like these people have tried and tried to make things work, but the culture is so bad there seems to be no hope.

As I was just finishing this article, I read other analysis on LinkedIn last night which said, “The Labor Department also said the pace at which people quit their jobs held at a historically high 2.3% for a 10th month as the unemployment rate has continued to dip to half century lows.”

So, this is that time that dissatisfied people have been waiting for. And, people are leaving jobs at record levels that are opening new positions.

The Rise of “The Career Nomad”

I have often wondered “When does a ‘thing’ become a ‘thing’?” In other words, what defines a trend?

A new trend is the “career nomad”. My friend, Tom Staab, brought this to me attention recently. This is a person that moves from job to job, either inside a company or between companies to accelerate their advancement. In my day, it was called “job hopping.” I did it and my parents were very concerned about it, but in the programming field it was the way to advance. The other option was to work for 20 years at one place and hope your boss moves on and you get the slot. But, there were no guarantees for that, either.

It takes a good economy to make the career nomad approach work, but working it is, right now. To get an idea of the scope, a true career nomad will have over 20 jobs in a career.

The key takeaway here is that the stigma is going away from moving jobs too often. Employers are realizing this is the new reality. Actually, many employers helped create this new reality by layoffs and poor management. The old mindset was, “Let ‘em go…we’ll find more.” Not so, today - at least, not full-time employees in tech.

This is a great time to be a career nomad.

When applying for a new position, a new reality hits - you need certain skills and certifications to even apply at the jobs you really want.

I’ve been saying for the last 20 years, “The time to build skills is about 6 – 12 months ago.”

The catch is for many of the more desirable skills, such as certain tools, or experience in a position, there is also an experience factor or 1 – 5 years required. You can’t just build those things overnight.

What you can do is get certified in a new skill and start documenting all the related things you have done in the past. They do add up, and we tend to forget those things over time. A prospective employer might look at your initiative and allow you to grow into certain skills that you have a start in, but in which you are not fully mature.

Certifications, love them or hate them, do convey a sense of knowledge. HR loves them. Do some initial searches and see which ones are required for the position you want and which certifications are desired. In some cases, a prospective employer is willing to accept that you will attain the needed certification in a given time after hiring, such as six months.

For example, for testing positions, it is common to find some level of ISTQB certification either required or desirable. You can get the CTFL in 3 days minimum, although most people will require a bit more time, especially if going the e-Learning or self-study route.

Certifications do help you stand out among others. If you need training, I offer live virtual events and on-demand e-learning.

What if you still can’t change companies?

Take if from an old dude that has seen this happen before, lots of people make changes. New positions may open in your company that may be an advancement opportunity. That’s very common. Your micro-managing boss might leave to micro-manage in another company. You might be just the right fit for their position, as long as you are not a new micro-manager!

Don’t forget how to learn!

No matter how your situation plays out, no matter your age, now is the time to learn new things and be forward-thinking. Even if you have to fund it yourself, keep learning. It’s your life and your career. To remain the same will not work in the future. Your future self will thank you.

I do this personally, even getting some e-learning last month on penetration testing, and some live training on cyber table-top exercises. It looks great on a resume to have a consistent record of ongoing training and learning.

I have taught classes where it was obvious the people hadn’t been in a classroom for years. Then, add on an exam, and some people really get nervous. Some haven’t taken a test for 20 years or more, either. Don’t be that person!

Don’t be afraid, just jump in. So what if you struggle? That’s where the learning happens. The more you exercise your brain, the more you will improve and even age better. Find a good teacher and go for it!

Are You a Manual Tester?

If so, take heart. I’ll say at the outset that I have been predicting this for many years now.

Over the last ten years, there has been such a push toward the Software Developer in Test (SDET) role, testers have been told they will be out of work without technical skills such as coding and test automation. The push toward technical testing skills has also been fueled by employers requiring them, whether those skills are actually needed or not. Clearly, there is a need for technical skills and there are salary benefits, too.

But, technical testing and test automation is limited. There are some things that simply cannot or should not be automated. Plus, the SDET often approaches software testing from the developer perspective instead of the user or customer perspective. So, when the user encounters a failure, the developer-minded tester may say, “So what? Here’s how you work around that.” Users don’t need workarounds, they need software that works correctly.

Because so many testers have moved to the technical side, a shortage of manual testers has actually been seen in some markets. Manual testing is not easy and requires many skills that technical testers may miss entirely.

Not everyone is cutout to have technical skills. Their greater value may be in the business domain. Or, they just may be wicked good at finding defects in just about anything. Those people make great testers!

So, if manual testing is your strength, play to it!

Summary

Here are the key takeaways for testers and QA professionals from the current economic news and the testing marketplace:

1.              A significant number of people are changing jobs, which can be good for the individual, but leaves gaps in the companies they leave. That, in turn, opens new opportunities to fill in those companies.
2.              Job hopping has lost much of the stigma and is now seen as a trend of “career nomads.”
3.              There are fewer QA and Test professionals in the open market to hire, so the competition is less and the pay is increasing.
4.              This is a chance for testers to advance, if they have the right skills and can demonstrate value to a prospective employer.
5.              The future holds a massive technology challenge as the convergence of several waves all hit at once. It will make Y2K seem like a “normal” project.
6.              Manual testers are in demand in many markets.

The good news is that this is a great time to be a tester! Why? Because there are more opportunities than ever before and the skills needed are both deep and wide.

If you have a testing or QA career question, please contact me!
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Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Graduation Day at Muraho Tech

Congratulations to all the ladies who graduated the four-week intensive coursework last Friday in Rwanda!
Full group, left side
Full group, right side

New ISTQB Foundation Level Certification Holders!

Friday, March 29, 2019

The WeCode Story of Consolee

I want to share a story that was written recently by Dr. Michael Pucci, director of the Muraho training effort in Rwanda.

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I wanted to take the chance to capture a glimpse into the deeply transformative impact our training has been facilitating in the lives of the WeCode women. We get these textures every day, but those who are focused on the back end infrastructure to enable the WeCode project often don’t get to see what is most beautiful (and motivating) about it.

To me the story of Consolee in particular embodies the values we are nurturing in this learning environment (We Seek Excellence, We Love Questions, We Fail Forward, We Win Together). Consolee was in our first cohort in September and October but really struggled because she was starting off from such a low level of English competency. However, she brought a lot of heart competencies to the work (positive attitude, grit/persistence), and as a result we saw great improvement across many of the competencies, as she challenged herself. 
We could see that she was really coming alive and thriving in the safe environment of her team, which embraced everyone from different backgrounds and economic means. Consolee, was from a very low Ubudehe economic level. We could also see early on in the training that her low English was really handicapping her. 
Although she completed both the Basic Work Readiness and Advanced QA & Project Management training, she failed to qualify to sit the October 15 ASTQB (international proficiency) certification) exam. There are some at that threshold who complain, protest, while there are others who (sometimes through tears) just say, “Next time I will get there."

During the internship that followed the training, Consolee was selected to be on a team that remained focused on ISTQB and English proficiency, and in fact, she was chosen as the Malayika (facilitator) to lead her team of learners during that four month internship. The internship required a high degree of self-organizing from the teams, especially those that were not selected to be on live Muraho client software testing projects but were given further learning objectives to pursue to further prepare themselves. 
At the end of the internship, we assessed the teams according to the projects they were on, including the learning projects. Those who demonstrated they were persisting in learning during the internship were invited into the second cohort’s intensive two weeks of ISTQB training and coaching to try for the exam again.

Six of those who did not qualify to sit the ASTQB in October were invited to join cohort 2 Advanced training the first two weeks of March. All six of them qualified and sat the official ASTQB on March 18. Of particular note, Consolee’s marks during the mock exams were consistently at the top of the pile, and her English and confidence were also markedly improved (measured by questions and presentations). She shifted from one of the lowest mock scorers in round one to consistently scoring at the top. When we asked her what she had done during the internship in order to improve so well, she and her team reported that they helped each other set and keep their study goals (e.g. they committed to learn 15 new words every day, etc.). During this second Cohort training, we were constantly seeing Consolee helping newer students in the mixed teams to understand difficult concepts; they looked up to her. 

Not everyone who was given that further opportunity of a paid internship after the training took advantage of it, or we would have had 20 from Cohort 1 join Cohort 2 ISTQB training. Some complained they had less formal training structure on internship; some gave up when they were not assigned to projects they wanted to be on, but some hunkered down and did the work together of on-going learning and earned a second chance. 

I am purposely reporting this story of Consolee before we have received the results of her ASTQB exam (sometime later this week). She has already proven that it is irrelevant whether she passes the exam (this time). She and all the 6 embody a "not yet”, growth mindset and a fearlessness to fail forward. They’ve also demonstrated that they are worth hiring onto teams without this certification and that the intangible qualities like dynamic ongoing learning is one of the most valuable competencies to train and nurture in WeCode. Creating the safe environment that enables that learning for women is the most fragile part of what we do. 

We hear firsthand many of the impediments these women have to overcome and when they do, we celebrate them. I just wanted to share this so you can join us in celebration of these amazing women. If GIZ wanted to give some kind of award for embodying the WeCode values, Consolee would be at the top of my pile, simply because she started further behind than most, climbed, failed, climbed again and got there, and led several up there with her.

Update on March 29, 2019: I can now add that Consolee passed her ASTQB and has CTFL after her name. Her life and opportunities are changed.
Dr. Michael Pucci

ISTQB Foundation Level Training in Rwanda - Trip #2

For those of you who have been following the story of software testing in Rwanda, here is Chapter 2.

I traveled to Kigali in early March, 2019. I left Oklahoma City on February 28 and arrived in Kigali on Saturday evening, March 2 about 7 p.m.  (Yes, it is a long trip!)

The objectives were to train another 50 women in ISTQB Foundation Level software testing certification, and to hand deliver 5 new HP notebook computers made possible through the generous donations of people through a gofundme page I had set up.

At first, I was hoping we could have raised a bit more to buy a few more computers, but really, 5 was all I could take with me. Thankfully, all 5 computers, plus another one I was delivering for a friend, made it without damage or being stolen. I had many people praying for their protection!
The New Computers Unpacked and Being Set-up

This week of training was just one week of several in the full internship program as part of the WeCode initiative that has received much help and sponsorship from Germany government’s GIZ, the Private Sector Federation and the ICT Chamber in Rwanda.

Before I arrive, the ladies in the program have in-depth training on teamwork (although in the Rwandan culture, that is an inherent trait), problem solving, critical thinking, communication and many other competencies. After I leave, the ladies practice a full week on sample exams, then they have two weeks of project management training. All of the training is conducted by industry experts.

A Sampling of One of the Team's Values

This competency-based internship led by Dr. Michael Pucci has received international acclaim. In fact, the first part of my week there, Michael was presenting about the model at a UNESCO conference in Paris. The feedback he received was overwhelmingly positive.

The training I conduct there is in a 5-day format, which is different from most ISTQB Foundation Level courses, which are 3 or 4 days in length. The difference is that we go over the materials in the morning, then afternoons are for exercises. On the afternoon of Day 1, I have the ladies testing an actual software application and applying critical thinking skills.
Day 1 Exercises

Throughout the week, we covered in-depth all the syllabus topics and worked in teams to complete exercises on the "Big 4" test design techniques - Equivalence Partitioning (EP), Boundary Value Analysis (BVA), Decision Tables, and State-Transition models. I worked with the teams to make sure they were applying the techniques correctly. To break things up a bit, they also did a "Vocab Jam" as a contest between teams to review terminology, along with electronic mock exams.

By the end of the week, we were working through the entire testing process from start to finish. I made some comments and adjustments along the way, but at the end of the day, I was confident they had it down. Then, like in the last class, I thanked them for all their hard work and welcomed them to the profession of software testing.

When I say "hard work", I mean just that. These ladies go to extreme lengths to arrive early, stay late and work harder than any other classes I have ever taught - and in 30 years in the software testing training field, I have trained over 10,000 testers personally across every industry sector, so that is saying a lot for these ladies. Not to diminish the efforts in other classes, but for these ladies they know this is their golden opportunity to escape poverty.

I read and hear the criticisms of certification, and I understand why some people feel the way they do about tester certification. In fact, at one point many years ago, I was a bit jaded myself. But seeing how these ladies worked and learned the material was truly inspiring.

Click here to read Consolee's Story

One might say, why certification? Why not just teach them a basic class on testing?

My response to those questions are:

1.  There are hundred, if not thousands, of courses on software testing. I have written 70+ of them. What you get a mixed bag of techniques and terminology. Some of the content is terrible and just simply incorrect. In fact, my personal opinion is that the field of software testing has "devolved" in the level of knowledge and practice. Someone new coming into the field immediately picks up on this. The result is confusion. Which way is right? Which way is best? I agree there is no single "right" or "best" way to test software, the thing that has gotten lost in our profession is how to know which way is most effective in a given situation. While no certification is perfect, it does base one's understanding of testing in a codified, reviewed, body of knowledge. Certification is one way to achieve consistency in knowledge.

2.  Future customers will find value in the level of training behind the certification. I am fully aware of the certification mills that certify hundreds of people at at time just so they can point to the piece of paper. This is not that!  Muraho chose the ASTQB exam because the questions are constantly measured, and ASTQB is the only exam provider that has the "Proficiency Distinction" to show that a candidate has actually demonstrated proficiency in applying the material.

3.  The achievement of the certification is a point of pride for these women. It should be a point of pride for anyone. All the arguments made against certification could also be made for degrees or any kind of learning for that matter. I will never take away from someone's sense of pride and accomplishment because of others who may not value it. There is an old joke that goes, "What do you call the person that finishes last in their class in medical school? Doctor." So, the certificate is the first step, experience and practice is needed after that to gain mastery.

As it turned out, that Friday, March 8, was also International Women's Day, and I could think of no better way to celebrate that day than to see these 50 tired but smiling women celebrate their work. Pictures were taken and we just enjoyed them moment. I was humbled and touched by the gifts the ladies gave me and my wife (for letting me make the trip). A wonderful Rwandan shirt, and woven bowls and earrings for my wife. These gifts are special to me because they are given not out of abundance of provision, but out of pure appreciation and love.

Rwandan Coffee is Amazing!
On Saturday morning, we had a great opportunity to meet with Michael Pennick and others in the Muraho team to discuss future plans. Michael "just happened" to be in Kigali for the day. It was an awesome visit over awesome coffee.

On Saturday afternoon, my host Dan Munkittrick and their housekeeper, Claude, took me to the market. It was an amazing experience to see all the food, souvenirs, hardware, household supplies all in this one place. It was like the Rwandan version of Wal-Mart, but in a bazaar setting.

Dan with the World's Largest Package of Steel Wool!

Lots of Green Bananas!
I left for home Saturday evening, just as a storm was moving into the city, but I made it out fine and mad it home tired but safe.

We just found out the exam results and learned that over the first two rounds of training, over 60% of the ladies passed the exam!

Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, for the "rest of the story."

I know this is a very long posting and at the risk of going even longer, here goes...

On the way from the airport upon my arrival in Kigali, I remarked to Dan about how unusual and impressive the last class was. I have never seen that in other classes.

That started a dialog that lasted all week and involved all the leadership team of Muraho Technology on the topic of me bringing the testing services of these ladies into organizations and projects in the USA under my test leadership here in the USA.

So, I am happy and excited to announce that I am actively working to engage these women on projects in a concept we call "co-sourcing." It different and better than outsourcing because we have a connection in the USA (me) and there is a native English speaking team in Rwanda (ex-patriots) who form this bridge of communication. The women themselves can communicate well in English but the USA - Rwanda connection is there to plan and manage the work.

The key values in our approach to co-sourcing is Excellence and Opportunity.

Yes, by working with us you are providing an amazing opportunity to the team in Rwanda, but more importantly, you will receive the excellence in service that so many companies seem to be missing in the traditional outsourcing model.

You will be hearing more about this in the days and weeks to come. But, if you are intrigued, just call (405-691-8075) or e-mail me (webrequest at riceconsulting.com) to discuss it further.

Thanks for reading this long post!
Randy


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Press Release - Randall Rice to Address ITEA Cybersecurity Workshop


March 26, 2019, Oklahoma City, OK
Randall W. Rice, principal consultant of Rice Consulting Services, Inc. and a Director of the American Software Testing Qualifications Board (ASTQB), will present a technical presentation at the International Test and Evaluation Association's (ITEA) 5th Annual Cybersecurity Workshop on Wednesday, March 27th, 2019. The ITEA is the premier organization is a leading in advancing software test and evaluation, including cybersecurity, in the Department of Defense.  The conference is being held near the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Belcamp, MD. Mr. Rice's talk is sponsored by the ASTQB.
            Rice’s topic will be “Defining Solid Security Requirements” This presentation will show how software professionals can identify the security needs of a system and an organization for the purpose of achieving secure systems. “Software requirements are a challenge for most organizations, and security requirements are even more challenging. Most companies don't consider the security requirements of a system until it is too late. Then, the main options to achieve security are patches applied during the lifespan of the system or product.” said Rice from his office in south Oklahoma City.
            "ASTQB has been a leader in advancing software quality worldwide in all forms, including cybersecurity. We are excited to share this information with the DoD community," Rice continued.
            Rice has been speaking at international software testing conferences since 1990 and is a popular speaker at conferences such as StarEast, StarWest and EuroStar.
            Software testing is the activity organizations perform to assure the software they buy or build is working correctly. Because of the critical nature of many computer-based functions in everything from medical devices to automobiles, software testing is an important activity in reducing the risks of software failure. With the sharp rise in cyberattacks in all sectors, including industry and defense, security testing has become an essential way for companies to know if their security defenses are working as designed.