"Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright"- Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption. This blog is from one such bird who couldn't be caged by organizations who mandate scripted software testing. Pradeep Soundararajan welcomes you to this blog and wishes you a good time here and even otherwise.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Shore, Offshore!

I love meeting testers and I also love hearing their stories. A conference is one such place where we get to meet a lot of testers and talk about a variety of topics. I understand that I might not be able to work on all technologies and products in this life and also attend all conferences that are happening. A meet with a tester, who works on a product different than what I work, brings me joy of learning. This also helps me to clear traps right away if I get into one such project in future. It has helped me come out with new ideas, learn contexts that I haven't been exposed so far, learn how other testers solve or get into problems.

My curiosity to listen to all those stories makes me attend or speak at a testing conference in India. An year witnesses a couple of conferences and this leaves me craving for more stories. I have been fortunate enough to meet at least one new tester every 2 weekends. Most of them are the one's who have came across my blog and expressed interest to meet me.

Samana ( name changed ) is a tester who works for a company whose product focus is health care. While the development team is in Chicago, testing happens offshore in their Bengalooru ( earlier Bangalore ) office.

Here are some of the points that I felt important and captured from the story I heard from her -

1. The development team from Chicago sends an e-mail seeking/conveying an important information at mid-night India time, where testers in India are catching bed bugs. The time Indian testers come back and look into the e-mail, the developers in Chicago run a status in their IM , "We sleep too". Once the manager in India or US realizes the importance of the information, they setup a teleconference, usually at mid night India time. All this results in a delay of information for the tester and hence delays the progress of testing and the project.

2. "It works for me" - A statement that tests a tester, if conveyed by a developer, who is available locally, is safer than receiving it as an e-mail from a developer in
Chicago. Samana in Bengalooru, claimed to receive such e-mails pretty often from developers in Chicago and which takes her a lot of e-mail interactions or a couple of teleconferences. The manager then takes a decision and conveys "We have spent a lot of time on this, lets find more bugs instead".

3. Information that the testers in Bengalooru feel important are put at a low priority by the team in
Chicago and vice-versa happens too.

As a consulting tester, if I were consulting such an organization facing similar issues who intend to smoothen things, here is my answer to the client : [ if he happens to look at this post ] ( assuming whatever Samana told is happening in the company )

  1. I infer from what I have heard that a lot of time is being spent by testers seeking information than on testing, hence I would think of an idea of having a video conference with the entire team on both ends of the world. Before the video conference, each tester and developer will be asked to prepare a list of questions they might want to ask anyone in the conference. If the developers and testers show interest in the first video conference session, more such sessions can be held. It is very important for a tester or a developer to know the questions that their co-workers have. The video sessions are recorded and are viewed offline too, by both ends.
  2. If a tester or developer asks an important question that should have been asked earlier for the benefit of the project, it is an alarm that there might be more important questions to ask. I generally recommend testers to use "cidtestdsfdpotcrusspicstmplfdsfscura" to ask questions. "cidtestdsfdpotcrusspicstmplfdsfscura" is James Bach and Michael Bolton's mnemonic to remember 36 important heuristics that helps a tester to ask questions, think of test ideas and remember to test those things that matter the most to the customer. If you want to know more about them, I recommend this screen saver ( because I developed it and I agree it hangs on some PC's) which claims to help testers remember and apply heuristics those heuristics. For those who fear to run the screen saver there is www.satisfice.com/rst.pdf
  3. It is very important as a tester to generate more time to test by avoiding traps and to provide quality related information to help management take informed decisions. Thinking of cost v/s value is equally important. On finding a blocking issue, I would continue to explore the program and not just wait for a fix. Currently, I observe that when a tester in India finds a blocking issue at around 12 PM IST, he waits for the fix after sending an e-mail to the development team stationed at North America. The developers to get back to work, read the e-mail, get convinced to fix the issue and providing a fix takes some time. The tester spends at least one and a half days waiting for the fix. As a tester who has seen the power of exploration, I would spend my time learning other areas of the program that appears to work and might be worth learning, exploring and testing. Other testers who get inspired by me doing exploratory work despite having found a blocking issue, are welcome to join me to test. Pair testing is a bonus!
  4. All testers and developers are encouraged to put questions and replies to them, in a forum that is accessible by all team members, all time. Well, you might think about why a discussion forum/wiki when e-mails are there. It is very important to share learnings across the team. As a rapid tester, I would look for such information and knowledge shared by other members of the project while I test. It would be better to have a dedicated forum to it. It does not cost much to the company.Look, I am still thinking of cost v/s value.
  5. To know more, I suggest you hire me :)
Here is a funny fact about offshore: "shore" in Hindi language ( the national language of India ) means "chaos" in a specific context and "noise" in all other contexts, maybe.

-- Pradeep Soundararajan - pradeep.srajan@gmail.com - +91-98451-76817

"Pradeep's first language is not English--his first language appears to be testing." -- Michael Bolton

7 comments:

Mukesh said...

Hi Pradeep
Once again nice blog. I am curious to know the term "cidtestdsfdpotcrusspicstmplfdsfscura". It would be a great help if you explain it in details.

Thanks
Mukesh Dhingra

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@ Mukesh,

Thank you. I suggest you re-read the post and get back to me, if you don't find any clues to know what "cidtestdsfdpotcrusspicstmplfdsfscura" means.

Venkat said...

Pradeep,

Creating a Knowledge Base is important for organizations to perform better.

I liked the following two from the post on the above lines

1. Video conference sessions & capture them for re-use
2. Forum to capture the discussion on the queries.

Nice post & keep it up.

PP said...

Shore and Offshore is a nice post, we all have to sometimes work in such environments. Discussed and Proposed solutions like Video Conferencing, sharing information through Forums are great.

I remember how initially we used to hate the forum method, we always felt, that this used to decrease the speed at which things can be done/solved. E-mail was faster, just mail the guy who you think has the solution, why bother others!!!. But I am happy that my seniors pushed us to take the route of submitting doubts/problems through Issue Tracker (name of our Forum). We now call it the MAGIC TOOL, if anyone who is new to project asks us doubts or clarification related to different functionalities, our simple answer is first search the Magic Tool. It’s a great knowledge sharing tool for a Product development environment. Also sharing by this way helps us to understand each other’s perspective

I find the idea of recording video /tele conference (pod cast) exciting. We never used it, nice way to create a reference library. I will try to implement it for all forthcoming and running projects.

And Pradeep,I have suggested many colleagues to use your screensaver ,albeit it runs beautifully on my computer, my friends found it has some issues Now I hope the new PPS version is better (or is it the same!!)

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@PP,

That's a cool MAGIC!

The PPS version of the screen saver it to those of your and my friends who complained bugs in the installer version.

I think you too should blog about the wonderful stuff happening at your company for the benefit of the community.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pradeep,

I was introduced to your blogs by a colleague of mine, its an excellent learning.
Thanks for posting information.

Regards,
Anu

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Anu,

Thanks. As your colleague helped you enjoy something, you might want to help other people enjoy as well.