Friday, July 30, 2010

How to Create a Fear-Based Culture

Hi folks,

Here is a great blog post from The Next Level Blog by Scott Elbin. Those who know me, know I'm big on the human factors in software development and testing. A big part of that is culture. One of Dr. Demming's 14 points is to "Drive out fear." What does that mean? Well, here's seven ways NOT to do it. See if you recognize any of them. Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Practical Software Test Automation Course Now Available in eLearning!

I am excited to announce the release of my newest course, Practical Software Test Automation, in e-learning format.

This course focuses on the basics of software test automation and expands on those topics to learn some of the deeper issues of test automation. This course is not specific to any particular tool set but does include hands-on exercises using free and inexpensive test tools. The tool used for test automation exercises is Macro Scheduler.

The main objective of this course is to help you understand the landscape of software test automation and how to make test automation a reality in your organization. You will learn the top challenges of test automation and which approaches are the best ones for your situation, how to establish your own test automation organization, and how to design software with test automation in mind. You will also learn many of the lessons of test automation by performing exercises using sample test automation tools on sample applications.

I hope to see you there!

Click here to see the course outline.

Click here to take a demo. (You can login as a guest)

Click here to register for the course.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wahington Post Series on Top Secret Sites is Shameful

Hi Folks,

Normally I don't get political on this blog, and actually, I don't really think this post is political. But I do think the topic is important.

Today, the Washington Post unveiled their series on the Top Secret work done by the Federal Government.

Here's my problem: There will be a lot of innocent people placed at risk simply because of who they work for. Imagine this scenario: Joe Smith, an employee (fictitious) of a Top Secret government contractor takes a trip to a quasi-friendly (or even unfriendly) country to perform work for another client. Joe winds up in a situation for some reason that involves police authorities in said country. They ask him where he works. He answers truthfully. They run that information through their systems and bingo, get a hit. (They know all the companies now because of this article) Depending on the person running the query, Joe might be flagged as an agent. He certainly has knowledge of Top Secret information. Right?

Well...maybe, maybe not. However, try convincing an authority in a foreign country of that.

In fact, people don't even have to travel abroad. Now, our enemies know exactly where the offices of these companies are. They now have all types of targets for espionage and for recruiting spies.

Some will say the articles have a noble purpose to expose government waste. Is that something we don't already know?

Some may also say, like in a Tom Clancy novel, if the Washington Post can find this information, our enemies already know it. Yes, but they've made it really easy to find - all in one place, hyperlinked, with maps and all.

It will be interesting to see if any of the same people who were outraged over the "outing" of Valerie Plame will be outraged over this. I doubt it.

I think the Washington Post has abused the liberty of freedom of the press by publishing this series, but the damage has already been done.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Testing Skills Needed for Companies that are Rebuilding Test Teams

It's still a tough economy, but some companies are starting to hire in IT again, even hiring software testers. That's an encouraging sign!

I've seen many companies struggle in the team rebuilding process, mainly due to simply getting people on the same basis of knowledge. The thing to consider is, when you start to being new people into your teams, how will they build the skills they need to be effective on your team?

Here is what often happens. After a company starts to feel the pain of tasks left undone (for testing, that means defects going straight to customers and customers leaving), they start to rebuild the teams. So, you search for the best and brightest people, and hire who you can afford. These people have a mixed bag of skills and talents, all learned from various sources, some practices effective, some ineffective. And then, some people embellish their skills on the resume, so when they are hired they don't perform as expected. But, you still stick with them at least for awhile.

Then, you have the faithful and the tough - the people who have been with the company for a long time and have never been formally trained.

If this situation is left "as is" you basically have a stew that is not very tasty.

What's the Solution?

1. Perform a Skills Assessment. This will tell you exactly where each person stands in their overall skill set.

2. Perform Training. This lays in place a foundation of common skills and terminology.

3. Perform Continued Mentoring. This reinforces the skills and may be needed for topics that the training can't reach, such as organization procedures, etc.

The sooner you can do this, the better, as long as you have most of the team in place. For the ones that join after the training, it's good to have e-learning available.

If you need help in getting your team's skills in place, contact me. I have over 60 courses in software testing and related topics. Tester certification is also a good approach for many teams.

I can create a custom training plan for your organization that will give you a head-start and boost your effectiveness as a team.