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From business administrator to awarded tester. Interview with Markus Gartner

Markus Gärtner is a popular German testing blogger, and MIATPP 2013 Award winner. This award is annually held online survey for the entire Agile testing community from all over the world.  We invited Markus to be the next guest in the  series of interviews with most popular QA people we started last week . 

Though Markus is rather young hе has already gained popularity as famous Agile tester, consultant, trainer, coach, and regular presenter at Agile and testing conferences. He used to call himself a software craftsman, and was around when the Craftsmanship Manifesto was lifted.

Markus specializes in Acceptance Test-driven development, Exploratory Testing, and skillful manual testing, which includes the whole development cycle from idea, vision, coding, finally on to delivery and maintenance. One of his favorites is Telecom sphere, which we intend to touch below.

portrait1a1qa: Markus, thanks a lot for being so responsive to our query. a1qa is the company  engaged in telecom-testing. What would you suggest to QA specialist planning to work with telecommunication software? What should he start with?

Maerkus Gärtner (M.) : Telecommunications is a large field. When you start working in that field, you are probably not confronted with all of it, but only a part. When working in software testing outsourcing on a telecom project, I would suggest to start with learning enough about that particular detail until you become bored. Then you can easily extend your knowledge from there.

For example, I started with the business administration part a few years ago. I dived deep enough into it to create and maintain a testing suite for that purpose. Over time I noticed that we needed to address more and more concerns about real-time rating or billing as well. That was when I started to dive deeper into those topics.

Of course, there are also fields which I know nothing about, like low-level network traffic from the SS7-stack, the differences between various network types, and so on. I maintain the illusion that I can easily dive into those topics if I ever need to.

a1qa: Let’s talk a bit about OSS/BSS projects for operators. It is a well-known fact that OSS/BSS solution replacement is one of the most complicated projects for the operators. It might cause lots of troubles and take a long time to get a success. What’s your opinion about the main challenges operators have during OSS/BSS integration process? Is it possible to minimize them with a QA team?

M.: Right now, I would argue from a background with domain-driven design. OSS and BSS appear to be different views on the problem space. So, I would model them in different bounded contexts, then I would pick a dedicated QA team for each, and afterwards ask another QA team for the integration of those two parts.

However, I think operators face different problems in this space. OSS/BSS forms a circular dependency. That usually means that you need to have feedback loops between the two teams. I would strive to solve the dependency to a major primary player, for example OSS, and then have BSS depending on OSS after it is stable.

I don’t know how a QA team can help with those problems. They can certainly make you aware of these types of problems. The bigger problem I usually see is that people are not listening to the transparency those QA teams can deliver. That’s a missed opportunity to improve something.

a1qa: Do you agree that telecom sphere becomes more and more virtual, highly influenced by IP and VoIP? What are the main trends you foresee in telecom development for the next decade and what is the role of QA in this process?

M.: I am bad at foreseeing anything – just like anyone else. We are all guessing. Some are guessing better, others don’t.

For QA virtualization has an advantage as test systems become available more easily and more quickly. Of course, there is a risk that the system will perform differently than production, but we know pretty much how to overcome that risk.

I am not sure for the next decade though. Yesterday I overheard a conversation at a client in the telecom business that the market will become satisfied. At that point mobile phone vendors will probably pivot to other fields, like fitness wristbands, clocks, or integrating the smartphone with the connected home environment including TV, and heating. I think some of this is already happening.

Then again, who knew that SMS would be a killer feature fifteen years ago? And that we would overcome it in 10 more years? I certainly didn’t. I was more a late adopter when it comes to mobile phones. So, don’t listen too closely to me :).

a1qa: Thanks again, Markus, for the privilege of having an interview with you. We were pleased to share your viewpoint and will be definitely glаd to see you as our guest again.

You can check Markus Blog here, follow him on Facebook  and Twitter.

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