I’m pleased to run the forth interview in our #testerstory series with our guest Benjamin Butel from France. He will tell us about his journey as a ‘Test Coach’ and how he faced the transition to remote in his agile team.
Hope his story will add more value to your everyday remote tester life and inspire those who are looking for being an agile tester within their Teams.
Part 1: Introduction and Remote Agile Experience
- Tell us about your experience, background?
13 years ago, I started my testing career by doing automation test Python scripts that emulate SIP phone calls. I did know nothing about testing at this time.
Then I had the chance to perform testing in several business areas such as telecommunications, energy suppliers, military, biology, teaching and leading a community of hundred of testers.
All these experiences gave me so much to be a better tester.
I also passed several ISTQB certifications. It helps me to broaden my tester’s mind.
I can say I’m passionate !
That’s why I don’t limit myself to ISTQB knowledge. I try to master testing through all reflexions: RST, Modern Testing, Agile Testing, …
I’m proud today to share my knowledge in the French blog “La Taverne du testeur” and by hosting the Ministry of Testing Meetup in my city, Rennes.
My journey is still going on. My next challenge is to enhance my development skills in order to add more value to my agile team.
- Did you face the transition from traditional methods to agile ones ? if yes, what was the impact of this change on your job ?
Indeed, I faced this transition when I started my new job at Klaxoon as a test coach. I’m involved mostly in product building. I’m part of a team, PO including and we build the product together. Quality is also defined by the whole team. I’m not the only one who cares about quality.
- Let’s talk about 2020 transition to remote, tell us about your move to remote agile mode ?
I used to work from home once a week before Covid. So It was natural for me to work from home.
I have to confess that we are facing some adaptation. All my colleagues were also on remote and we had to learn working remotely together. We are lucky Klaxoon produces collaborative tools. So it was obvious to use it and stay connected.
- Is there any negative or unexpected impact related to agile practices due to the lockdown ? How did you face that ?
Working with a 5 YO child was unexpected 😋 My wife and I shared our work time to play with our son.
Today, lockdown ended, my child went back to school and I’m still working remotely. And I like it 🤩.
I feel more productive and at the same time, I’ve got more free time. I take my son to school afoot, go to local market, cook, do sport every day.
Once a week, I go to the office and it’s good to see my colleagues.
Part 2: Agile Testing in Practice
- How do you see the role of QA professionals in agile teams ?
To me, a QA is someone who helps the team produce value. It means he participates in kickoff, bdd conversation, demo, retro, … he drives quality into the team. Of course, he does test execution but it’s not his primary task.
Critical thinking is surely my best ally to be a good QA.
- How do you organize your split and follow testing activities between all team members?
We talk about what to do during kickoff and BDD conservations. According to the value of what we are doing, anyone in the team will run tests.
- How do you assure the planning of testing activities for the whole team ?
If planning refers to schedule and milestones, I don’t. If it refers to test plan, I only focus on risks and what to do (sometimes how). It’s built with the team.
- Who is responsible for making decisions and defining the DoD ?
Team makes its own concerned decisions. Because PO belonged to the team, it’s easier to define the DoD all together and be sure we will succeed.
- How do you engage testers with the development team and avoid working in silos ?
It’s natural for us to work as a team. So developers and testers work as one body to reach team objectives.
- How to make all team members engaged in the CI/CD pipeline?
An ops member is part of the team. CI/CD is obvious for us. We are able to deploy several times a day.
As a tester, I’m concerned about automated tests in CI: no flaky test, duration of running, etc …
- What is your strategy to adopt continuous improvement (product, team level) ?
We do retros and team share their good and not so good practices. We try to identify stuffs that limit us delivery high quality fastly. Then we make the decision to change and reduce these difficulties.
- “Automation” and “Agile” what does the combination of both words mean to you in the same context?
Agility requires strong technical skills for both developers and testers. Automation is one of them. I think play/record automation tools are inappropriate in agility.To be more efficient, automation has to start before a feature has been developed. It is hard to do and your automation framework has to support it. Technical skill for testers will also help him to build robust and maintainable automation framework. Mastering the language, the code design (clean architecture, design patterns), code quality principle (like SOLID principles), … all these are hard to achieve and I’m aware I have to learn more in order to be better in automation. I’m still a baby automation tester 😁
Part 3: Conclusion
- What advice do you give for both junior or senior testers who want to improve the quality of their work ?
My first advice is “do as you feel it’s right to do for you and your team”. If you fail, it does not matter. Analyze with your team why you fail. And try again…differently.
My second advice is: don’t be afraid to share your knowledge and your difficulties with communities: Ministry of testing slack, Test Automation University slack, online and local meetups, blogs and forums, …
- How do you see your career growth as a test coach in an agile team?
My next challenge is to enhance my development and ops skills.
Another side, I will continue to help testers by sharing my thoughts with them.
Hosting the Ministry of Testing Rennes is a great way to do that.
Speaking at conferences is also a good way to learn from each other. I’m improving my english presentation skills for new speaking challenges at international conferences.
- anything else you want to share with the testing community ?
I will be glad if you want to share with me your story.
You can contact me on Twitter, LinkedIn and several slacks (MoT, TAU, French Test communauté, French blog Taverne du testeur…).
Thank you so much Benjamin for taking part of this interview and sharing your thoughts from the inside. You are a great example practicing agile testing in your team and facing successfully the transition to remote.
I encourage you to continue on your brillant journey. I’m sure this story will inspire all those involved in agile teams.
- Interview #1: Being a Freelancer from Tester Perspective
- Interview #2: Driving quality forward with a customer first mindset
- Interview #3: Overcoming the struggles of being a tester from student perspective
- Interview #4: Being A Remote Agile Tester Story
- Interview #5: ….. if you have a ‘testing related story’ reach me out to tell more about it in interview format. Get in touch via twitter @emna__ayadi or linkedin Emna Ayadi.