A tester’s life

I work every day as a tester on the Pivotal Tracker team. Some people think that because I’ve written books and speak at conferences I must be a full time consultant, but my passion lies in being a member of a great team and doing hands-on testing.

Brainstorming with JoEllen, at our old office

It’s easy for me to go around telling you all what’s the best way to build quality into a software product, but practicing what I preach can be a challenge. For example, I’m a very shy person with self-esteem issues. So though I’m always telling you how great pairing is, I often find it hard to leave my bubble and pair with amazing people like my teammate JoEllen Carter.

Here’s a slice of life from a particularly exciting week. We moved to a fancy new office half a block down the street, along with other teams from Pivotal Labs. Right now our Tracker team is rattling around in our new digs, but we have several new hires, interns and a Colorado School of Mines project team joining us soon.

Enough said
Enough said

Until all those new folks join us, there are extra monitors lying around. One of my teammates, knowing how much I love major monitor real estate, hooked a third monitor up to my usual workstation. Of course, another teammate caught me using my laptop for a standup meeting with some remote team members, and posted it on our Slack channel. Yeah, I look pretty silly! And there’s a downside: it’d be nice to move locations every day as our dev pairs do, but I can’t tear myself away from those three monitors. Well, it won’t last forever.

On the right are the scenarios I wrote, on the left are the designer's ideas.
On the right are the scenarios I wrote, on the left are the designer’s ideas.

Our new space has acres of glorious whiteboards. We had few whiteboards at the old office, but whenever any of us got in front of a whiteboard and started drawing while talking, magic happened. Today, a few of us started discussing a poor user experience in our customer signup process. After a few minutes of waving hands and explaining, I walked over to the giant wall o’ whiteboards and wrote out three scenarios. The others walked over and we had a good conversation.

Later on, the designer and a couple of developers went back to the whiteboard to talk more about it. The designer sketched out his ideas. Writing and drawing on the whiteboard helped us think things through and share the same understanding about the problem and the potential solution.

New Tracker office

Other stuff that went on this week? I usually work from home two days a week because I live 35 miles and much gridlock away from work. The office move translated into problems connecting with the office. The team is changing up how we do builds and deploys, and that’s getting in the way of delivering stories for final acceptance testing. We testers pitch in on customer support, and that’s been a bit busy this week. Like everyone I know, I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want/need to be doing. But we sure have a pretty new office!

Oh, and I did NOT pair with JoEllen at all. This is terrible. OK, she was gone the first two days of the week. We have a three day Hackathon next week. I had better take advantage of the opportunity.



8 comments on “A tester’s life

  1. Hi Lisa,

    nice post. It is funny, also got the same question: “You are not working as an mobile test consultant?” For me it is the same reason to not be a consultant. I like to work in a permanent team on a product I really like to work on and to support the team with testing ideas to get it better every day.

    The new office looks nice, but isn’t it loud in the huge space?


  2. Hi Daniel,
    Thanks for the comment! Compared to our old space, where we were all crammed together and it was so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think, it is spookily quiet in the new building. They must have some clever soundproofing, or everyone is just overwhelmed and not talking!
    — Lisa

  3. We have been interviewing a lot of devs lately. I have noticed the candidates in current consulting roles are looking for the long play of working on a team. They want to be more a part of an Agile process though their consulting gigs have been multiple years.
    I really like hearing that from a candidate. It makes me want to hire them. There is little doubt in my mind that they will embrace our team atmosphere which is something that I need as a QA Manager and part-time tester. I trust those types of dev more. High level skills are a bonus. But no one wants to work with a genius that is a bit of (or a lot of) an a$$h0le.

    Go, Team!

  4. […] inspired by Lisa Crispin’s post about a day in the life of a tester on Pivotal Tracker team, A tester’s life and wanted to write about a typical day on the ATHN development […]

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