Letter from the Editor – February 2012

I have been training testers for about 15 years in universities, corporations, online, and individually – in both a training, managing and coaching capacity. So far, I have executed these various training efforts in 16 countries, under good and rough conditions – from simultaneous translation, to video broadcast to multiple sites, to group games with loud music; all for the purpose of skill-building for better quality software and better job satisfaction.

When I started working in software development, there were no YouTube videos, no Google TechTalks, only a small, but very good library by which to gain knowledge on testing. The best knowledge I received was from generous co-workers and by tribal knowledge learning – the “tips and tricks”, and tools of the trade.

But back then, our development projects were slower. There was just as much pressure to work fast, but enough structure, process, approvals and manufacturing to provide a bigger buffer than we have today with, for example, SaaS immediate deployment. On the other hand, there was much less knowledge about testing! Everyone who tested was called QA. There were no differentiated job titles or skill sets, like “Quality Engineer”, “Software Tester”, or “Software Developer in Test” and the best test case management tools were spreadsheets. Today it’s an entirely different world.

Software development has completely changed. New platforms, devices, programming languages, development tools, testing tools, and development lifecycles have all sped up product delivery to a blazing speed. Additionally, test engineers are expected to be fluent in all the technologies needed.

Luckily for all of us, the availability of learning and training is now at our fingertips. Onsite courses, university curricula, video, tool trainings, and white papers abound! Today you can get the skills, tools, ideas and knowledge to execute your job better, release higher quality software and be happier and confident in your job. Having the commitment, time and money are now the principal obstacles to overcome.

The problem for organizations now is how to provide skilled labor and continuous training in the most effective manner. Figuring out the real need is always the first step – what’s best for each individual, what is best for your team, what’s best for teams across an organization. What is the best method of delivery for the training? Live? Online? Hybrid? Training adults– especially knowledge workers – is obviously very different from educating young people. To have the training suit the needs of staff is not always easy!

In this issue, we will try to get you started along that path! First, our blogger of the month, Jaideep Khanduja, explains which soft skills are vital to project success. Then, I’ll offer up the latest trend in knowledge worker training – training using games to increase knowledge retention. Cem Kaner explains the intense research, development and structure of his Black Box Software Testing – Test Design course. Jaroslav Prochazka will take you through the challenges of coaching and mentoring teams in distributed environments. I’ll examine different team training techniques, while highlighting those that work and those that don’t. And finally, I’ll go through the results of the training section from the 2010 global survey.

These days, I often hear a phrase in software development: “Automation is not optional!” I agree. I also think “Training is not optional!” Training testers – home teams, outsourced teams, and offshore teams – and training managers, leads, and other software development folks in testing practices and principles, is no longer optional! Both hard skill and soft skill training is the key to success!

Michael Hackett
Michael is a co-founder of LogiGear Corporation, and has over two decades of experience in software engineering in banking, securities, healthcare and consumer electronics. Michael is a Certified Scrum Master and has co-authored two books on software testing. Testing Applications on the Web: Test Planning for Mobile and Internet-Based Systems (Wiley, 2nd ed. 2003), and Global Software Test Automation (Happy About Publishing, 2006). He is a founding member of the Board of Advisors at the University of California Berkeley Extension and has taught for the Certificate in Software Quality Engineering and Management at the University of California Santa Cruz Extension. As a member of IEEE, his training courses have brought Silicon Valley testing expertise to over 16 countries. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

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One thought on “Letter from the Editor – February 2012

  1. Great points Michael.

    I’ve often looked back on the earlier years and thought that in many instances there was even more pressure to “make things happen…faster” than there is now. But something is different now that makes this a bit more challenging. You hit it right on the head about those ‘early years’ processes building in a buffer for us.

    It’s great that there are so many resources now, but that in itself is another challenge. We can’t just rely on the standard “Testing Computer Software” book by Mr. Kaner anymore.

    This was a great issue in that sense, to help point us in the direction of what the best resources are.
    Speaking of Mr. Kaner, I am very excited about the Black Box Software Testing course he has worked on and presented in this issue.

    Thanks again and keep up the great work.

    Martin

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