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Clarify your boss expectations first. Interview with Justin Rohrman

Justin Rohrman is a consulting software tester with a day job. He has been performing software testing in various industries and capacities for close to 10 years now. Outside of his day job, Justin is an assistant or lead instructor for 3 of the four BBST courses offered by AST, frequent facilitator for Weekend Testing Americas, miagi-do black belt, and a writer. He writes often for ITKnowledgeExchange, Stickyminds, and his own personal blog.

Justin is currently serving on the board for the Association for Software Testing as VP of Education and has active role in the BBST program and WHOSE.
You can find Justin on twitter or on his personal website.

justinRohrmanHeadshota1qa: Justin, in your article, “My First Thirty Days as a Test Lead: Expectations and Reality” you describe observations of being a test lead. Can you summarize it all in some tips to follow when entering a new testing team? 

Justin Rohrman: Much of that article was focused on clarifying expectations. Mainly, what your boss expects of you, the lead; what the group of testers you are working with expect and need from you; and also what you need from that group of people.

As for general tips on joining new test teams, and products, focus on the skills you have and how those can be useful to the new team. A lot of the time when you are joining a new project, you will lack some domain expertise. By domain expertise, I mean your understanding of the industry your product is designed for and the problems it is designed to solve. Domain expertise is something that can usually be picked up pretty quickly in most situations. Testing skill however takes a long time to develop and can be transferred between different projects.

a1qa: You are VP of Education at Association of Software testing. Tell us how you came to be on the board and what you are hoping to do as vp of education? 

Justin Rohrman: I started out with AST around 2008 because I was looking for serious hands on training for software testing. There were, and still, are very few good options for that. I had heard great things about the BBST class series. I had a fantastic experience taking the classes and eventually met Michael Larsen at CAST 2012 in San Jose where he was leading an EdSig meeting and recruiting BBST instructors.

It was a whirlwind of getting more and more involved in BBST and AST from there. This year a few people asked me if I would be interested in running for the board and everything just fell into place from there.

As VP of Education, I am involved in all of the education offerings by AST. Right now, this includes the BBST class series and WHOSE. Both of these are very active. BBST classes are consistently full and wait listed, so we are currently exploring ways to offer more classes so we can meet the student demand. In December of 2013 a group came together in Cleveland, OH to begin working on a skills workbook for software testing. AST will be releasing that incrementally throughout the year, and it will continue to grow and change as a living document.

The education offerings from AST will continue to grow and evolve over time, I’m really excited to be involved in that.

a1qa: Measurements and social sciences are in your special interests. Still, if measurements in software QA testing are important for KPIs, efforts, etc, then how social sciences can be applied in testing process? What`s the benefit?

Justin Rohrman: I don’t think measurement programs and KPIs are as important to software testing or software in the general sense as most companies assume. Also the amount of misunderstanding around measurement mostly renders them meaningless at best and damaging at worst. The things we are trying to measure in software are social in nature; namely capacity and performance, and quality.

Studying the origins of measurement in social science, specifically experimental psychology, can shed light on where we are making mistakes. Many of the problems we have with measurement, such as understanding reliability and validity problems, were studied in depth as the fields of psychology and sociology were being developed. Software testing is a social science focusing on the relationships between people and software environments; we should understand certain aspects of our origins.

There is also some value in studying lean which is partly about management moving back to directly observing the work and making decisions from what they observe. Lean values managers being in the gemba, the place where work is happening, rather than in an office creating and studying measures. This is sort of what was happening when qualitative research was being developed in the early 1900s.

There are great anecdotes from the history of this development in the books Reliability and Validity in Qualitative Measurement, and Constructing the Subject.

a1qa: And a few things about you and the testing. Are you an adherent of some testing approach, strategy or technique? What’s your favorite field in QA?

Justin Rohrman: I am a student of the context driven school of testing. You can read about the principles of that here. The basics are: we view testing as an intellectually challenging activity, there are no best practices, only good practices in context

Justin thanks for the interview and the thoughts you`ve shared. We hope to talk to you again.

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