Organisation – DragonFire Inc.
Role/Designation – Agile Coach
Location – Calgary, Canada
An agile testing coach and practitioner, Janet Gregory is the co-author of Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams and a contributor to 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know. Janet specializes in showing agile teams how testers can add value in areas beyond critiquing the product; for example, by guiding development with business-facing tests. For the past ten years, Janet has been working with teams to transition to agile development, and teaches agile testing courses and tutorials worldwide, and enjoys sharing her experiences at conferences and user group meetings.
1. How long have you been associated with software testing?
As far as I’m concerned, I’ve been testing software for as long as I’ve been involved in software development. I started testing my own code in university, although I do wish I would have learned much more about how to test. That piece was definitely missing from the curriculum.
2. How did you become a software tester?
In my very first job out of university, I was one of those programmers who were fortunate enough to be in an organization that valued testing. My supervisor worked with me developing my testing strategy (no automation back then), and reviewing the results until I was able to deliver pretty good code. When I changed organizations, my new boss got tired of me complaining about other programmers and the lack of testing. I was “promoted” to QA Manager. That was the start of my formal interest in software testing.
3. WBy any means, do you regret being associated with software testing?
There used to be days when I wondered why I tried so hard to make people see the “light”. Once I let go of the idea that it was my job to protect the quality of the product, I was able to look at my role and the activities associated it in a new way. I consider myself a lifelong learner and software testing is one of those areas where I learn something new every day. There are so many avenues to explore: systems thinking, problem solving, business analysis, domain knowledge of whatever product I’m working on, people interactions, ... the list goes on.
4. Do you think software testing is less respected than other departments in IT industry?
I think in some organizations, testers are less respected, less important than programmers. There are organizations out there which support that culture by hiring people who do not know how to test and do not recognize their job as an equal part of software development. However, software testing itself, is farther reaching than the QA department or any other one department. When we create testing departments that receive “the code”, we set ourselves up to fail and to be the complainers. Software testers need to take the time to learn their craft and the respect of the people they work by working with the whole team and adding value. I believe if a person is not part of the solution, they are part of the problem.
5. What will you suggest to people who want to join IT industry as software testers?
Learn all they can about the craft. There are books, websites, user groups and articles. Find the industry leaders – read, listen. Stretch yourself. Don’t become complacent. Software testing is never boring unless we make it that way.
6. Where do you see Software Testing in next five years?
That is such a hard question. I think agile methods have some of the answer, but not all of it. As an industry, we have much to learn. I would like to make a prophecy and say “All teams will have testers as an integrated part of their software development”. As a tester, that is what I would strive for, but to become a valued team member, we need to be proud of what we do, and increase our skill set and never, never become complacent in our learning.
7. What qualities will you look for in a candidate when you want to recruit someone for software testing job?
First, because I only work with agile teams these days, I look for attitude. I want someone who asks a lot of questions. I want people who are curious about how something works. I want people who are courageous and will question assumptions. I want people who can collaborate with analysts, programmers, customers, etc. I want people who stretch their testing skills, and want to learn more.
8. What do you do when you are not working?
That is an interesting question. I assume you mean what do I do in my free time, but I will answer in two parts. In many ways, I don’t think I ever stop working, because I am always trying to learn new things and question. The other day, I was chatting with a colleague (Antony Marcano) in London. We were watching a parking attendant waiting to give a ticket to someone. I started asking Antony questions about where you can park and how you pay. He told me that he usually uses his cell phone to dial to pay. I started then asking a series of ‘what if’ questions ... and he started to laugh. He said to me “Janet, you do realize you are testing our parking system, don’t you?”. I shook my head in recognition – I catch myself doing things like that all the time. But, the question I think you wanted answered is – what do I do in my free time. In the summer I love to camp, preferably with my 3 grandchildren (their parents can come too). We are so close to the mountains, we can be at a beautiful campsite within 45 minutes. No cell phone, no computer. In the winter, I like to spend time in the sun – preferably on a beach somewhere.
9. Complete this sentence – “I use twitter because ...
I use twitter because it is such a fast way to get information to a lot of people, and there is such a wide variety. I schedule my time carefully because it is an easy place to lose a lot of time.
10. Last question – Do you read Testing Circus? If yes, what is your opinion about this magazine?
Sorry – I have several copies waiting to be read, but haven’t gotten the time to read them.