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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Process vs Tools and Technologies - What should Sri lankan QA community be concerned with?

I have been thinking about discussing the matters related to local QA community in Sri lanka but never got a chance. Recently I was able to meet a lot of folks who are engaged in software quality assurance in various sri lankan organizations in one place at a quality summit. By listening to the presentations and talking with people, I came out with a few basic questions.

Some of them were;
what the biggest concern of software quality assurance in our country? are those processes or tools/technologies? Do we have the necessary trainings or knowledge sharing mechanism to overcome the issues which we face during daily QA tasks?

In my view, the biggest concern of QA in our country is, not having people with enough technical skills. By interviewing a lot of QA folks for the past few years, I personally have a good experience about the way people are approaching QA. Most fresh graduates believe that QA as a first step towards entering in to software industry! Some people joins QA merely to get some understanding about the product/project then move in to business analysis or sales.
Why is this? IMO, it is totally due to the perception of software QA in sri lanka. We, sri lankan QA community, must be responsible for drawing that image on people's minds about QA.
For the past few years, I never noticed any training (were there any?) for educating QA community about the usage of tools in daily QA tasks to be more productive or technical aspects such as performance/automation testing tools. Instead, whenever there is something about QA, it is about CMMI or process frameworks.
I'm not going to say that those are not important. BUT those are not what our teams need at the moment.
People struggle with configuring application server X on operating system Z. QA folks face in to difficulties when automating AJAX based UIs. How QA should be dealt with the frequent UI changes during UI based test automation? How can we be more productive using linux? Do we use any scripting language for automate repetitive configuration tasks? Are we doing continuous integration? Are QA people familiar with build tools such as Maven or Ant? Do we know about exploratory testing? Do we know how to use test coverage tools? Do we report bugs with the adequate logs and find the root cause of them?

I think these are the questions that most of the QA teams have. We should try to be more productive and be experts as a community. We should try to change the perceptive about QA by empowering everyone with the right set of skills.

If people are comfortable with the tools and technology they are handling in daily work life, educating them about processes and process improvements is not a big thing!

7 comments:

Krishantha said...

Exactly true. Sometime my friends who works on other companies are asking guidance for test automation and test tools. Most of the time they don't aware of open source testing tools. And they don't have technical know how to start using tool or language without others help(Don't know whether blame should go to our education system).Sometime their supervisors (immediate mangers) were not allowing them to use those existing tools. Writing a test framework that suite to their company is a big deal for them. They even don't think beyond the available set of tools. To be a good functional QA, you have to have good domain knowledge but most interestingly people with technical skills(tools, programming experience, DB administration, web server config etc ) are fit into the any QA role nicely.Most of the companies believe innovations done by QA people merely should be improvements to processes. As you said processes and standards can be improved any time. Creating a people with right skill set is the most difficult.

Andy S said...

Hi Charitha,

Good one machan, I can see the 'root cause' of this post (looking at the date of post) :-)

You were spot on with some technical challenges organizations face. I'm sure most of us who are in this profession will agree with you on this.

Some of the reasons (that I could think of) why they focus only on process level stuff could be;
1) Easier to organize and deliver – especially in one day conference (how much can we deliver in a class room kind of a presentation; If we are to conduct trainings on a tool)
2) Easier to attract a larger audience – as opposed to talking about a specific tool or something.

I think all of us are feeling the need for 'forums' or 'community' through which we can engage in collective learning. I know there are loads of forums of this nature available via net. However, nothing can beat a local forum; where you as a group can meet and discuss some challenges and then figure out solutions, etc. But some of the challenges in forming such a forums are (by no means I'm representing the community here; this is my personal view):

1)Some issues might be very specific to organizations; but most of them might be common across the industry –so the forums should do the due –diligence on this.

2)How to get the sponsorships? At bare minimum we’ll meet money for logistics, etc.

3)Which tools to focus? - 'coz there is a huge spectrum of tools.

4)If we are to focus on any commercial tools; then the obvious problems such as license, etc will come in to the scene

5)If we are to go with some Opensource options, again which ones are better to focus on?

I have been personally interested in setting up some Special Interest Group or Forums. Janesh K wanted to start something of similar nature for Selenium. I asked him to gather interested parties, so we could kick this off ASAP. Please let me know if you would be interested in leading a similar forum for an Opensource performance testing tool something like JMeter, OpenSTA, etc.

Iranga said...

I also agree that the lack of technical quality engineers is a very serious problem and needs to be tackled immediatly. Solutions?

Change the perception about QA.

@ University Level

The curriculam needs to address that QA is not only about software process it also entails high technical skills such as building and deployment / configurations of servers / profiling / stress testing etc....


@ Organization Level
2.) IT organizations should include the technical qa aspects in the induction programs for fresh graduates.

As a Quality Community

3.) Build and develop an open source test tool community within Sri Lanka.

Iranga said...

I also agree that the lack of technical quality engineers is a very serious problem and needs to be tackled immediatly. Solutions?

Change the perception about QA.

@ University Level

The curriculam needs to address that QA is not only about software process it also entails high technical skills such as building and deployment / configurations of servers / profiling / stress testing etc....


@ Organization Level
2.) IT organizations should include the technical qa aspects in the induction programs for fresh graduates.

As a Quality Community

3.) Build and develop an open source test tool community within Sri Lanka.

Iranga said...

Like Andy SPIG idea , charitha i think you can contribute a lot there . And i guess there will be a lot who will be willing to contribute.

Charitha said...

@Iranga and Andy,
Sure.. I'll help in whatever possible way either using forums or any other medium. Lets meet soon and discuss.

Regards
Charitha

Manjula said...

Good one Charitha!

I believe we should maintain the right mix of process and technology in QA in order to gain the control over the tasks we perform.

Anyway, let me know if you guys are going to plan sort of a get-together in this regard.