Reflecting Reality

A blog about lean project management, casual games and offshored comics

Time Management Ninja – Quick start guide to time management — July 4, 2013

Time Management Ninja – Quick start guide to time management

I read this great book about time management called “Getting Things Done” by David Allen.

Applying the concepts presented in the book, combined with Asana, Google Calendar, OneNote and GMail Shortcuts, I was able to increase my productivity, did not miss out on follow ups, all while staying sane.

Following is a good summary of the concepts presented in “Getting Things Done”.

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Lean QA – Agile meets Testing — June 9, 2013

Lean QA – Agile meets Testing

Last month I started reading the book “The Lean Startup” By Eric Ries (http://www.amazon.com/Lean-Startup-Entrepreneurs-Continuous-Innovation/dp/0307887898). At first I was skeptical about the concepts, mainly because everyone and their mother was talking about it. However going through a few pages, it started making sense to me. I have never been a real fan of conventional process heavy development strategies. Finally someone took out the time and wrote down how successful software applications are actually made, and its not because they follow PMBOK to the punctuation.

I don’t want to bore you with the details, as you can find great synopsis of the book online (http://www.slideshare.net/KUalum/the-lean-startup-visual-summary). The reason why I mentioned the lean startup is that working in an offshore software consulting services company, every time I talk to my QA team, they have the same complaints. They are being used as testers and not as QA engineers. That they’re just asked to do monkey click testing and there is no process. When I ask them about process they say they need double the time given, not only that, they need the rest of the team to write 10 different documents, in reply to which as you can image, I humbly say “Hell no!”.

Recently being put in charge to revamp the how QA works in our company, I needed some creative ideas around this. So I began to think, there must be an approach that fits with the Agile, Scrum, Lean startup projects of the world. And it has to be better than the conventional QA process of ‘Thou shall not pass without the holy manuscripts! Bring forth the FS and SRS’ (I never really understood why people got high on dropping acronyms on other people). So I googled Lean QA and Agile QA. To my excitement I found the following slide deck presentation and a documented process on Agile QA.

 

Introduction to Agile Testing – http://www.slideshare.net/kgfourie/introduction-to-agile-testing-for-qa

Agile QA Process – http://www.slideshare.net/abagmar/agile-qa-process

 

So if you have a project that follows some form of agile, scrum or lean startup process, you must have heard the complaints from your QA team that

    1. There is no compiled documentation. They need proper documented specs that are updated at all times
    2. You don’t give us enough time for test cases
    3. The hours may seem high, but we will need to test everything again each time there is a small change
    4. Don’t expect a quality product since you didn’t provide us the above

Dilbert trained on Agile

 

I believe we’ve all heard these and more. So what’s the solution you ask? Well first of all we need to change the mindset, its not us versus them, testing or the ownership of quality is not just for the QA engineers, the whole team is responsible. Roles and responsibilities will overlap.  So how do we do this?

    1. The QA engineers need to be part of brainstorming and planning meetings. This is where they get to know what the specs are. They can use their experience to clarify functionality and point out ambiguities, and scenarios that were overlooked by the PM.  Developers and QA have the same understanding of the feature and what it means to call it DONE.
    2. The brainstorming sessions needs to happen for each milestone/sprint/iteration, not just in the beginning.
    3. The QA team gives/updates their own estimates for each milestone or sprint.
    4. The QA team works with the PM and dev team to design the tests. Passing these tests means DONE. Devs know that and thus keep these points in mind while developing the features.
    5. Automate the designed tests, its not that hard and it saves a lot of time for exploratory testing.
    6. A QA representative should be part of demo/showcase to the customer/stakeholders at the end of each sprint so that they get first hand information of how the build was received.
    7. Each story will have some acceptance criteria, written against the story, that is the base test scenario.
    8. Understand the changes in each build, with the PM and Dev teams help, don’t work in isolation.

 

These were some of the tips summarized from the presentation and process document. Since Automation is a key ingredient for lean QA, you must be thinking that requires an expensive solution from the guys at Mercury or IBM. Well you should look at Selenium IDE and Selenium WebDriver instead (http://docs.seleniumhq.org/). It’s free, Google, Facebook and many big name companies use it! It has all the capabilities to automate even the AJAX heavy applications. If mobile apps is your thing, look at Appium (http://appium.io/).

As you can imagine, there is no one size fits all in application development. However I think the above is a good starting point, you can decide on your own process that’s not conventional and it lightweight enough that it can be repeated in the challenging timelines and changes we face in our projects.

 

Happy testing, less whining!

UX Design – Stop monkeying around — January 3, 2010

UX Design – Stop monkeying around

Remember when you first got your hands on a digital VCR? When I was a kid when my dad bought a National G10; jet black, front-loading box beaming of technological excellence. It could digitally tune channels, had a cool LCD screen that showed playback time and icons when I fast forwarded to the good parts of the movie. The thing that stood out the most was its amazing ability to do timed recording. YSet the channel and  time of recording. It would magically turn itself on, tune to the channel and start recording. It felt like having your own version of knight rider at home (black with an LCD interface). One problem though, it was incredibly difficult to get the damn thing setup for recording in the first place! I am not exaggerating when I say I had to read the manual everytime I had to setup timed recording so that I don’t miss McGyver using his Swiss Army knife.

Did I ever complain? well… I didn’t think I had the right to do so. Why you ask? Well it was a breakthrough technology and I was an average kid. I didn’t have the right to say that the design was faulty. It was too great and I wasn’t worthy Continue reading

Snagit 9 Review – The screen capture and editing tool you always wanted — August 19, 2009

Snagit 9 Review – The screen capture and editing tool you always wanted

Ever wanted a cool simple tool to aid you in those small yet painstaking image manipulation tasks at work? Cropping your *friend* from your college graduation party photo before sending it to your folks (because he was ruining the color balance and not because he was drunk and butt naked), removing the facebook browser windows from your software demo screenshot (because you wanted to be professional and not because you posted on your wall 100 times since 8am) and finally the classic case of forging a photo of you standing next to Britney Spears (oh ok, so that was just me). Ok so not all of them classify as image manipulation tasks one would do at work (or atleast would admit to), but don’t worry, this review is about a software that does help you at work.

As a software product manager, I have to work with screenshots and wire-frames all the time. What I need is a light weight tool that lets me take screenshots, crop them, move things around and then let me copy paste them in to MS Word where I am working on my next gen, take over the world, killer app.

When I started as a QA some 6 years ago, I used a software called Snagit. I wondered at that time why would someone use a special software just to take screenshots, why not just use PRINT-SCREEN and then use MS PAINT to cut the unnecessary things out. If you have ever used MS PAINT (read ‘AM ASS PAIN), you would agree that is a big mistake. So evolution came and I move to using Photoshop. Now thats a great tool, but sometimes too great a tool to do these small things in. Then came irfanView, light, run fast, no bullshit features… everything worked out.

Been using the combination of Print-screen and IrfanView since. Whenever something complex came in, there was always Photoshop to save me.

Recently, I don’t remember exactly for what reason, I thought I’d check out SnagIt again. Since I was running Vista, I dared not to install the old version. So I downloaded the latest version of SnagIt, SnagIt 9 (Don’t ask from where 😉 ). During installation it said “Behold the new user experience of SnagIt”, or was it something more professional and less World of Warcraft, anyways, So I thought, yeah right. What could they do with a screen capture tool right. Wrong!

I will let the following screenshots put you in tranced state of endless awe, and then I will get to the cool new features.

profiles-screen

edit-screen-full Continue reading

Pakistan in top 7 of oDesk providers — December 12, 2008