Friday, 29 June 2018

On What the Famous John Barnes Rap Can Teach us about Software Engineering Practice

A Short and Tongue-In-Cheek Treatise on what the famous John Barnes Rap (from England's World Cup 1990 official song) can teach us about development and Software Engineering practice.

1) "You've got to hold and give but do it at the right time"

Knowing what and when to delegate is a critical skill of any dev or test lead. Be always aware of the demands placed on your staff and ensure that you delegate work they have the skills and time to finish and no more.

2) "You can be slow or fast but you must get to the line"

There are times when it is understandable to prioritise speed over some quality (i.e. for a new startup with limited resources pushing to be the first to market), however generally it is good to prioritise project quality and delivery over fast completion for the sake of it. Be wary of demands by management for unrealistic or deleterious deadlines. Getting to project completion with good quality is all important.

3) "They'll always hit you and hurt you, defend and attack."

It is true that implementing process change in software engineering may well cause friction in teams. You may face resistance, be it by fearful defensive colleagues or naysayer managers. Influencing skills are crucial.

4) "There's only one way to beat them, get round the back..."

To implement quality principles you may have to alternatively solicit support and resources from PMs, stakeholders and CIOs.

You could also implement a pilot or smaller solution yourself and demonstrate it.

5) "So catch me if you can cause I'm your England man"...

The English software engineering job market is competitive and favours those with quick thinking and the ability to hit the ground running.

6) "And what you're looking at is the master plan"

Overarching master development and test plans are discouraged in agile development but can be sometimes useful. If you do use them, share and explain them with your team and appropriate stakeholders.

7) "We ain't no hooligans. This ain't a football song"

Hooliganism and other antisocial behaviour is deeply unprofessional and should play no part in well functioning software teams. Also remember that loud football chants in quiet workplaces may not be appreciated by colleagues.

Monday, 25 June 2018

10 Minute Rant 2: Ten Skills that are Probably More Important for Testers than Tools and Test Automation

My second ten minute rant blog, designed to break out of a spate of blogger procrastination.

(With credit to Sprint 4: The Bloggers Club on the Club, Ministry of Test)

1) Analysis and Systems Thinking

2) The Ability to Communicate with Tech Colleagues, Support, Management, Business People and Stakeholders

3) Observation, Modelling and Note Taking

4) Curiosity and a Desire for Exploration

5) Tenacity

6) Empathy for the User

7) Business Domain Knowledge

8) Formulating Rational and Consistent Arguments

9) Persuasiveness and Influencing Skills

10) Common Sense

Each of these so-called "soft skills" are critical for testers to truly perform well (IMHO) and yet most generic testing or QA job ads I see these days gloss over the above (if they are even mentioned at all) and involve a checklist of test case management and defect reporting tools, programming and test automation technologies. People can learn tools and how to program - it is much harder to rectify deficiencies in most of the above.

I suspect that the reason for this is that employers and recruiters tend to think that programming and test automation can either overcome deficiencies in the above or that testers are fungible and all have some default level of skill in the above simply by virtue of the fact that they call themselves testers.

Sad really…