Posted on March 31, 2006 in Process by adamNo Comments »

We had Mike Cohn of Mountain Goat Software give a seminar on Agile Estimating and Planning this week. Here are my notes.


Posted on March 31, 2006 in Process by adamNo Comments »

After 6 days, I’m all caught up now. Which of course is Yahoo’s queue to send the next batch at me.

Day 6…


Posted on March 30, 2006 in Process by adamNo Comments »

Woo! Below 500! Below 440 actually.

Day 5…


Posted on March 29, 2006 in Quality by adamNo Comments »

So you’ve now reached the conclusion that you need to hire someone and what their targeted role is going to be through your needs analysis etc.. What now?

Due to the relative immaturity of QA/Test as a recognized discipline, I would suggest that advertising on the dominant web job board or two is the best bang for buck. For example, in Canada the two main players are Workopolis and Monster. By utilizing the larger marketshare boards you will get an even larger percentage of the job hunting market. The other major route you could take would be to employ the services of a headhunter.

If you are in startup mode, I would make the assertion that you have better things to do with your money than pay their fees. Headhunters may also inadvertently screen you dream candidate as inappropriate for some reason. Personally, I’d like to be the one to make those calls.

In your ad, make sure that you list an accurate description of the role, seniority of position, whom the position reports to title wise, mandatory skills — which are derived from your needs analysis, technology area and an accurate geographic description. ‘Toronto’ doesn’t cut it as far as accuracy. And if you did decide to use a head hunter, insist that they list your company name. They don’t like to do it, but the customer is king (or queen).

Build Relationships or Pimp My Student
This is almost a variation of Advertising, but with an extremely narrow focus. Most companies operate within an hour or two of some sort of post-secondary institution. Get to know the professors who teach the Software Engineering courses — or Quality course if you are super lucky. A lot of profs are more than glad to help companies take their student’s into their wings. For those in the Toronto area, come to a DemoCamp to see this for yourself.

Dealing with the Flood
I remember seeing a stack of resumes in response to an ad on a job board back when were were in early maturity mode that was quite literally 6″ high. Clearly this is too many people to call and/or interview so you have to cull them down to a reasonable amount. The exact culling categories are going to be specific to each company, but I would recommend you not use the classic “education” filter. Why? Because Testing is not taught in schools yet, so someone coming from University of Waterloo is as far as a testing perspective the same from Durham College; at least for their just-out-of-school job. I’ll now contradict myself and say to filter out those who tout the certifications/training from local Technical school like DeVry and the ilk. Having taught an Intro to QA course at one such beast, I don’t think I would have hired 10 of the 11 students. The one I would has nothing to do with the absorption of the content but the types of questions she was asking which gave me the impression of having digested things appropriately.

My own personal bias too when going through a stack of resumes is to perhaps weigh ones where people are coming out of the financial or medical industry as they will (likely) understand the value and necessity of Test Accountability and Auditability from dealing with large dollar values and human life.

Interviewing Goals
Once you have got the number of responses to a manageable, screen them over the phone and invite the YESes in for a physical interview. Don’t discard the MAYBE stack yet through. You might still need to pull from it.

The interviewing process serves two purposes:

  • Screen for technical competency
  • Ensure personality and philosophical cohesion between you (and your group) and the candidate

The phone interview should focus more on the technical competency because without that, then the candidate isn’t qualified to begin with. It should also do a first pass at personality, but not with too much emphasis as communication is a physical as well as verbal action. The face-to-face interview then concentrates on whether they will mesh with the group they would be working on with a smattering of ‘did they snowball us on the phone’.

Interviewing Tips
I’m not going to rehash the billions of ‘How to Conduct a Great Interview’ posts, but here are a few things I have seen be effective that are not on those lists.

  • Have an agenda, and stick with that. Ideally that agenda would be written down somewhere and walked through at the beginning of the interview. This shows that you are organized and have put some thought into the meeting.
  • Have the candidate meet lots of people they will be working with. It’s sorta like speed dating, but in a corporate context. Having 6 or 8 people weighing in on the suitability of a candidate is more likely to have a better outcome than if there is only 2.
  • Have a whiteboard (and markers…) or at least a pad of paper and a pen available for the candidate to use to explain technical solutions on

And what list of this sort would be complete without the opposite; how not to be effective

  • Do not communicate clearly to the people conducting the interview the roles and responsibilities of the position. There is nothing more confusing to a candidate if they come out of the process and are less clued into the role than they were before they started.
  • Treat a Tester as a Developer. Remember, Testers are not developers. Therefore, the types of inquiries made should not be the same ones you would give a developer.

Interview TopicsI like to think that I can train a person who wants to be a tester into darn good tester, with all the jargon etc. that they will require. What I want to know from a person who is interviewing is stuff like:

  • What is their definition of Quality, and how it evolved
  • What is their vision of how QA interacts with development
  • How they solved a recent testing problem
  • What they are most proud of in their testing career

This way I can understand the how and why they think certain things about testing. It is these sorts of things that can escalate into religious wars and destroy team productivity. I’m not sure for instance, how effective a team would be made of some context testers and some CMMi people due to the opposite viewpoints of a lot of concepts between the two.

Candidate Luring/Retention

    I recall reading somewhere that you need to re-hire every employee every day. Meaning that in today’s fluid marketplance, you need to give incentives for people to want to stay. Here are some incentives that might work when hiring (and retaining testers)

    • Company sponsored attendance at Star East or Mercury World or similar
    • Annual dues paid to the ASQ
    • Sponsorship for some professional certification

    (I know these perks would get my attention 😉 )

Posted on March 29, 2006 in Process by adam2 Comments »

738 to go.

Day 4….


Posted on March 28, 2006 in Quality by adamNo Comments »

Recently I was tasked to create a generic test strategy for our SDK(s). Because there is nothing propriety are of any IP value, I’m reproducing it here. Keep in mind that the purpose of this document is guide the thinking of the tester in the direction you (I) want. The test plan does not specify exact test cases, but explains the feature and approach that will be taken. Note too that it is not a monstrous document and it has been removed of fluff. Lastly, this document should be modified with the specifics of a release project you are working on. As I mentioned at the onset, this was meant to be generic starting point for our SDK testing efforts.


Posted on March 28, 2006 in Process by adamNo Comments »

850 message left. The catch-up continues.

Day 3…


Posted on March 26, 2006 in Process by adamNo Comments »

Under 1000 messages now.

Day 2…


Posted on March 26, 2006 in Books by adamNo Comments »

Managing the Software Process by Watts S. HumphreyChapter 9 - Software Standards


Posted on March 25, 2006 in Books by adam1 Comment »

Managing the Software Process by Watts S. HumphreyChapter 8 – Quality Assurance


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