Sunday, 17 May 2015

Weekend Testing Europe - Testing Session for LinkedIn

Great time had during Weekend Testing Europe, recommended for all to sharpen up your skills, ask questions, or just get a bit of practice. The exercise in principle was compare features from mobile to desktop on the beautiful LinkedIn app/site...

For those interested my testing session files generated:

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Linked In Mobile App

iPhone 5s iOS 8.3

Search Functionality

Risks:
## No access to search algorithm to verify results

Start:

##User needs to authenticate for search function to be available.

Flow:

##On tapping search and entering no details, contacts appear alphabetically ascending.
##Cancelling returns to home tab and reloads the Newsfeed.
##Options for the user:
People
Contacts appear alphabetically ascending.
Jobs
Displays a set of jobs you may be interested in 
? Unknown algorithm for this, would need to be verified ?
Displays option to set location
In a new dialog you can search for a location or use current
Using current prompts for access to location services
Don't allow and the screen goes blank you can only cancel.
App remembers that you have disallowed location use.
Companies
Displays the companies you are currently following
? What happens when you follow no companies ?
Groups
Displays your currently joined groups
? What happens when you have no groups ?
## Search
People 
Adding search terms filters your own contacts first, then returns those you may know
? Unverified algo here ?
TO CHECK - Searching on a full name of a contact you already have returns those you don't only
Can search with only 1 char -  hopefully this is managed in the search algo
Jobs
TO CHECK - Cannot search by company, only title
Title appears to be fuzzily matched, without location set you get jobs from all over.
With location set:
Latest jobs are returned first, lots of jobs in Leeds.
Location can be removed, returns to previous results.
Job title and location can be used in conjunction. 

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LinkedIn Desktop

Windows 8.1, Chrome 42

Search Functionality

##Risks:
Again, no understanding of the search algo
Should be aware that the aim is different here than the mobile experience, search for power and results rather than speed.

##Start:
User does not need to be authenticated to search
Minor functionality is available, searching by first name and last name
The search is a true 'elastic search' rather than the linear, categorised search.

##Search
Entering text exposes:
People
Companies
Showcased Pages
Groups
Universities
Features
Can search with 1 char - 18 results are filtered each time.
The 18 results are shared between the above categories
The search dynamically filters as you type.
Searching on a full name reliabily returns connected and unconnected users  (mobile app only unconnected users)
Company search defaults three options
Jobs
Those who work there
Those who no longer work there
Typing a search terms and the clicking search opens a new page with advanced search options

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Summary

-Desktop was a true elastic search, built for power with a dependable connection, mobile much more category dependant and about returning immediate results
-Desktop was much more powerful, but both filtered and gave suggestions as you entered data. Mobile good for filtering what you already have, desktop better for finding new stuff.

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If you haven't already, get yourselves signed up for next time:

http://weekendtesting.com/

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Just give me a ball park? Yankee Stadium.


Two of my favourite estimation conversations (roles are indicative, not pointing fingers).

The What Is It?

Project Manager: "How long will it take you to test our disaster recovery solution?"
Me: "What's your disaster recovery solution?"
Project Manager: "We don't have one yet, but we need to test it."
Me: "I'm not convinced that is a valid approach."
Project Manager: "Well, what shall we do then?"
Me: "Create an disaster recovery solution."
Project Manager: "Can you do that?"
Me: "Yes."
Project Manager: "How long will that take to test?"
Me: "I don't know, I would be creating it, so I can't test my own work"

The Anything But...

Product Person: "Can you provide a forecast for how long these would take to implement?"
Me: "Are you asking for an estimate?"
Product Person: "Lets call it a gut feeling then. In days"
Me: "Is that different?" 
Product Person: "OK, I'll settle for a quote."
Me: "We may be straying into semantics here."
Product Person: "Just try and gauge it."
Me: "You know humans are rubbish at estimating time right?"
Product Person: "I know but I'm just asking for a projection."
Me: *sighs audibly*

As a heuristic, if this rings true:


Time spent generating estimates > Time spent doing the work

Then you should seriously have a think about estimating how long it takes to come up with an estimate. Mind the magical development unicorns sprinkling star dust on your product while you do. Or talk about alternatives to estimates as a means to gather information, try what success looks like, or a definition of ready. Break the cycle.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Bad Work



Careers often hinge on shifts in mind-set and I feel as if I have gone beyond a turning point in how I regard my career. In fact I think it is the first time I have taken true ownership of my direction and values, instead of inheriting and adhering to those of another entity, namely an organisation. This realisation concerns not doing what I would call ‘bad work’ (anymore).

Before I go on, let’s specify what I believe to be bad work:
  • Making a promise to stakeholders about delivery you know to a high probability you can’t keep.
  • Not flagging up information that may impact the decision a stakeholder may make.
  • Knowingly doing valueless work, as ordered by a stakeholder.
  • Implementing an exploitative strategy which preys on the ignorance of a stakeholder.
  • Treat someone inhumanely by hiring (or training) them to effect a particular change, then telling them how to do it.

The journey began in March 2013, I listened to a chap named Huib Schoots speak at TestBash 2013, in Brighton. He spoke of refusing to do bad work. I was in awe of the concept of someone taking ownership of their own work in such a way. Also my existing programmed behaviours railed against the concept, internally believing that this was idealistic and didn't translate to the ‘real world.’

However, my awareness grew and grew. I saw others exhibiting the behaviours I saw above, also caught myself on that path on occasion. I spent a significant portion of my time on a project solving a problem that no one could define and indeed no one had complained about. Eventually we delivered a system which would secure the future of that product for the foreseeable future, however, my discomfort was sharp throughout this time. Had we solved the problem? Maybe, maybe not. Had I sat in relative silence or at least acceptance of this fact? I had indeed.

Now, I’m a fairly generous chap, the propensity to do bad work exists on a continuum of consciousness, where people do it unwittingly (“I've been testing this for ages and have developed inattentional blindness to that problem”), ignorantly (“Yes, this will be tested for all possible scenarios”) or knowingly (“I have some information you need to make decision, but it suits me to retain that information”). We've all existed on this continuum, although hopefully, like myself, on the ‘honest fool’ end of that scale.

As I ventured into the world as a consultant on more strategic engagements I noted instances of the above behaviours with increased regularity. These were often disguised as pragmatic steps, picking off ‘low hanging fruit’, sometimes more blatant than that, aiming to be indispensable, rather than giving stakeholders the tools needed to tackle their problems. I favoured the latter, which often brought me into conflict with stakeholders on all sides of the divide.

So, I decided to follow my values and do something else, with a group of people I respect on a product with grand and hopefully (at least partially) noble ends. One thing I do know is that my career compass is pointing in a different direction now and I feel strong enough to follow it.

As well as my own experience, this was inspired by the following articles: