Category Archives: Quality

New venture for me…

After 32 years working for some of the top corporations, I’ve decided to go on my own. I’m my own boss.

Blessed in life, with a supportive family, and numerous people that I’ve worked with and admired, I’m going to try my hand at making a living by doing just my favorite parts of my job. These include:

  • Coaching engineers and managers to help them become great leaders at the Software Leadership Academy
  • Helping organizations apply Quality Engineering practices
  • Transform test organizations into Quality Engineering Organizations
  • Bring customer focus into the software development life-cycle with Customer-Driven Quality
  • Accelerate testing by reducing or eliminating long regression cycles and moving to a continuous delivery model
  • Help investors understand the developer productivity and testing tool/service marketplace.

I’ll be sharing more about my plans in the coming weeks, including a product launch for the online leadership course. You can watch progress at http://www.swleadership.com

Wish me luck!

John

Leadership Lessons from the Latest Episode of Game of Thrones

Winter has come, and Game of Thrones fans enjoyed the first episode of season 7. This episode had a couple of good leadership lessons. By the old gods and the new, there are spoilers ahead, so read at your caution.

Jon Snow leading the North in Winterfell

Jon Snow leading the North in Winterfell

Jon Snow is an inclusive leader, which will expand his influence. He embraced the wildlings earlier in the show and most recently the next generation of the Umbers and Karstarks. These moves build his collation, expand his influence, and will aid in the battle with the white walkers.

Most organizations have an “enemy” to help focus their strategy. The most successful organizations focus their efforts outside, towards beating a competitor or changing the status quo in the marketplace. I’ve seen places that concentrate, instead, on infighting between departments. These places don’t exist anymore.

Jon Snow focuses instead on the outside threat, the white walkers, which puts the North in the best position to survive.

Secret Information in the Citadel Library

Secret Information in the Citadel Library

We see Sam Tarley in the Citadel, the greatest library in Westeros. All kinds of information that is vital to the humans is literally locked up in the Citadel. The maesters there are keeping the “memory” alive, but not making that useful information available.

Be transparent with your information, don’t horde it. You never know who needs that data to help them do their job.

Testers Adding Value to Unit Tests

Development practices like Test-Driven Development can lead to high levels of Unit Test coverage. Sometimes, the team reaches 100% statement coverage.  How can testers add value when the code is “fully covered”?

Example of a project with 100% Unit Test Coverage

Example of a project with 100% Unit Test Coverage

I provide a few examples in this Sticky Minds article:

Review unit tests for missing cases. Just because the code is fully executed doesn’t mean all of the cases are used which might cause the code to fail.

Review unit tests against the product requirements. The unit tests will check that the code works as the developer intended. Sometimes, you can verify that the functionality meets the requirements.

Review the unit tests themselves. Having 100% coverage for unit tests means that the code was executed during a test, not that the tests are good, or even test anything.  Check that the assertions are valid and useful.

Review Exception Handling.  Unit testing is a good way to test the exception handling because the developer has full control of the mocked environment and can simulate the exceptions. These exceptions are difficult to inject in other types of testing, so making sure the unit tests do a good job is important.

Other ideas? Great, please check out the article and leave a comment either here or there.

 

The Software Quality Engineering Leader

4 P’s and a T

I frequently describe the role of a Quality Engineering Leader as 4-P’s and a T.  The 4 P’s are People, Product, Process, Project, and the T stands for Technology. This is a good prompt to write it down.

I’ve developed this model leading quality engineering teams in several Silicon Valley organizations, which lead to several common elements in the context.  We are building software, services, and products in a competitive market, servicing many customers. We use agile development methodologies and iterative releases. Our focus is delivering high quality, at speed. To accomplish these goals, we need to build quality in rather than test it in. We believe that prevention and finding issues early is better than finding them late.

The Quality Engineering Leader is a close partner with the development leader, the product owner, and customer support team. The Quality Engineering Leader is someone who is passionate about delivering great quality outcomes to our customers. They will bring an engineering mindset – which means to help build quality in at all stages of the Software Development Life-cycle. They will also be a strong leader, with the influence to paint a vision of quality which leads to change in teams that are not necessarily in their direct control.

The Quality Engineering leader demonstrates a balance across several dimensions:

People Leadership: Able to attract and recruit strong Quality Engineers, and help them be the best that they can be professionally. Help deploy the right people to the projects, so the projects are successful, while finding the right projects for each person to help them develop their career.

Product Advocacy: Understand how our products improve our customer’s lives & businesses – and help the team build the right offering in addition to building it right. Being the customer advocate in the development squads helps us build the products that our customers love.

Process Leadership: Be current on the latest quality engineering practices and be able to apply the right practice to our situation. Have a well thought out strategy for when to automate, how to automate, where to automate, and what is best left to the humans. Another aspect of process leadership is to help the engineering teams repeat success again and again instead of relying on heroics.

Project Management: Organize our work to focus on the most important items, and be transparent to our stakeholders. . Help the wider team make the necessary trade-offs between time, features, and investment. Track progress of the work and resolve the inevitable issues that pop up in every project.

Technology Focus: Able to understand our technologies sufficiently to lead an engineering team, helping the team make the best decisions when it comes to technology, and ask the right questions. Stay current on the emerging technologies and platforms that are important to our products.

The typical front-line leader will be solid in 2-3 of these dimensions and developing/growing in the balance.

This is an edited version of my LinkedIn article with the same title.