Are You Smarter Than a Test Manager?

Does this title make you sing the theme to the popular TV game show “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?” It probably does.

I wanted to inform all my readers that I have been selected to teach a course at the next Software Test Professionals conference (STPCon which is in Phoenix, Arizona in October).

If you’re in the testing field, or if software testing interests you, I encourage you to check out this conference.  This will be my third time speaking with them, and included with this all day tutorial, I will be speaking on two other topics at the conference.  Their link is:  STPCon Conference Site

Check out my tutorial course at the following link:

Are You Smarter Than a Test Manager – Mike Lyles Tutorial

My goal with this specific course is to pull together a room full of professionals in the testing world which will discuss the common areas where organizations are not in alignment.  Driving change and understanding will always revolve around first making sure the team driving that change is aligned.  Therefore, we will have a very productive and interactive session, and collaborate our thoughts, documents, and results so that everyone can take these ideas back to their respective teams and build creative and innovative solutions to the problems we face today.

Thanks to all of my supporters and blog followers!  Stay tuned for more to come!

A Day In the Life of a Test Manager

NOTE: Please review the last of this post if you are interested in an upcoming e-book.

During the last 4 months, I conducted a research project for an area I felt would be a great conference presentation on test managers.  My goal was to do the following:

  • Interview experts and practitioners in the field on three discussion questions
  • Create a 50 question survey
  • Initiate discussions on my blog regarding test managers and test management
  • Initiate discussions on multiple LinkedIn sites for test managers and test management

Through the four months, I was able to gather input, quotes, and feedback from over 10 experts and practitioners in the field.  I received an enormous outpouring of support and notes through the blog sites and LinkedIn groups.  I was amazed at the amount of valuable data that was provided throughout the course of this research.

The most awesome part of the research project and data gathering was that my survey resulted in 275 survey takers, and the most revealing part of this was the three discussion questions at the end of my survey which were:

  • Why did you want to be a Test Manager? (173 out of 275 gave detailed responses)
  • What 3 to 5 things would you do differently if you had the authority to choose how your day would look?  (148 out of 275 gave detailed responses)
  • Which topics within your organization do you feel there is a lack of alignment or agreement? (136 out of 275 gave detailed responses)

I was able to condense the overflowing data into a 75 min presentation, which I shared at the Software Test Professionals Conference (STPCon) on April 23, 2013.  You can see the presentation on YouTube (see below)

My next step is to compile all of the interviews, responses, survey notes, and other valuable data into a detailed e-book on the subject, and once published, I will share with everyone for a very affordable price.  If you are interested in this e-book and would like to be notified when it is ready you can do one of the following:

  • Add your email to the blog (over on the right) to be notified when I add new blog updates/posts (least favorable, probably)
  • Post a comment on this post with your email I can use to notify you of updates to the e-book
  • Email me at mikewlyles@gmail.com and let me know you’d like to be notified when the e-book is ready

I want to thank everyone who contributed to the survey, to the experts that gave their time and quotable material, to all those who posted on my blog, to those who joined in on conversations in LinkedIn, and also to Software Test Professionals for giving me the opportunity to share the information with a very large attending group at the conference!  Without you guys, none of this would have been possible!

Best Regards,

Mike

Staying Relevant in the Testing World

I have been so fortunate to be a speaker at two conferences in the last two weeks.  I was in Chicago at QUEST2013 to speak on “Building a Successful Test Center of Excellence” on April 16-18, and at the time of this writing, I am in San Diego at STPCon (A Software Test Professionals conference), where I am speaking on multiple topics:

  • A Day In the Life of a Test Manager
  • Pre-Conference Workshop segment: “Test Metrics: A Case Study
  • Gambling with your Test Estimates
  • Building A Successful Test Center of Excellence

I have been able to connect to some of the luminaries in the testing community these past two weeks, and to be part of their circles, communicate new ideas, share our thoughts on testing and the future of testing, and to think beyond the boundaries of imagination for what we can accomplish together…..well that is simply mind blasting!

So, to all the readers who are coming to this site – this may be your first time.  You may have just heard me stand up and present to you for an hour or two.  If so, hopefully you were impressed – not with my abilities at public speaking, my wit, my communication skills – but hopefully with the keen obviousness of the passion I have to help others grow and my ability to share, with everyone that I meet, something that they can take with them and use.

If you have attended my conference presentations, I would love to hear feedback and inputs.  If you have not, keep looking… I may be coming to your town next!

In closing, I made a commitment to my conference attendees – and that was for two things on my blog by the first of next week:

  1. Links & Materials: A blog posting for sites and reading materials which can help every test professional grow and increase their knowledge in the real world.  I plan to have this posting up so that you can have a one-stop location (my site!) to get you started on your vast travels through the world of testing.
  2. A Day In the Life of a Test Manager:  I spent almost four months compiling data, interviewing test professionals and well known names in the field, creating a 50 question survey (that was taken by 275 people), compiling notes from blogs, linkedIn discussions, and other avenues, and created a presentation which was shared with the testing community on Tuesday, April 23.  My presentation was 1 hour 15 mins, therefore, the immense amount of data that I had compiled for this research was much more than could be shared in that short amount of time.  I shared highlights and touched on what is in the complete paper, and I plan to post a link on my site which will provide everyone the ability to get their hands on the detailed book of information that was gathered.

Please keep visiting the site.  I plan to dedicate a lot of time to getting these two posts up in the next week.  And I solicit your inputs and comments and request that you click the button to “Follow by Blog via Email“.  You have no idea how much interaction with each of you excites me.  It was my purpose in life to share with you things which can help both of us grow.  Let’s grow together!

Sincerely,

Mike

Test Manager Survey – Running Now Through Saturday, March 23

** NOTE ** DUE TO THE OVERWHELMING RESPONSE I AM WRAPPING UP THE SURVEY ON SATURDAY, MARCH 23, TO ALLOW ME TO START COMPILING THE RESULTS AMD START MY PRESENTATION EARLY. IF YOU HAVEN’T TAKEN THE SURVEY YET PLEASE TAKE IT BEFORE END OF DAY ON SATURDAY, MARCH 23RD **

If you’re in the testing profession, especially if you’re a Test Manager, I am reaching out to everyone to get input for a survey that I have created to pull information related to Test Managers and the profession.

I am using this information to review within a presentation that I am preparing for the Software Test Professionals conference in San Diego, CA (STPCon) April 22-25, 2013.

Please go to the following link and take the survey – the questions are very simple and should only take a few mins to go through and respond. Also, please share the link with all that you know that could submit responses as well. Here’s the link!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/mike-lyles-test-manager-survey

Thank you so much in advance for your help!

Ask The Tester – March Article Published

Thanks to all who submitted questions and supported the Ask the Tester column for our first article of 2013.  Our interview with John Ruberto from Intuit (the company that makes Quickbooks and TurboTax) was just published online and will be published in the Insider column this week with Software Test Professionals.

You can see the link here for the article and interview questions  / answers:  http://www.softwaretestpro.com/Item/5805/

Please continue to ask questions for Jari Laakso – (see my other blog) as we prepare for his interview to be submitted in May 2013.

What do YOU know about Test Managers?

Calling all testing professionals, practitioners, and enthusiasts!

I’m working on the material for my STPCon presentation “A Day In The Life of a Test Manager” in San Diego (April 22-25,2013) and I’m soliciting your inputs on specific areas you would like to discuss in the course. As I wrap up my own plans and ideas, I’d like to pull in specific input from this forum to add additional material to the presentation.

The following is the description of the presentation

Test Managers: the world is full of them. But do we really know what they do? Does your organization agree on the core roles and responsibilities? The answer is probably “No” for many organizations. This session will examine the day-to-day life of past and present test managers, case studies on their practices, review results of a survey taken among various test managers, and suggestions on which responsibilities need to be core in a successful quality organization.

I plan to have topics regarding Test Managers and Test management that are common among all organizations as debate items – specific discussions where half the room may feel one way and the other half feel another way.

Some questions that I am currently polling various groups on are:

  1. How would you describe the roles, responsibilities of a Test Manager? What are the skill sets that successful future Test Managers should possess?
  2. What are the challenges of the Test Manager Role in your view? Does the role vary a lot across industry or the core of the role remains same always? How important is People Management as a skill required for a Test Manager role? What weightage (%) would you give it in the role for a TM.
  3. Which are the major conflict zones in a testing organization , internally within themselves and externally with the other teams – PMO, Development , SCM, Release Management team, Maintenance team , Environment teams .

I appreciate any inputs you have or areas where, if you were an attendee to a conference presentation of this title, would want to see discussed.

Thanks in advance for your inputs and help!!  Please add your ideas, notes, suggestions, questions, comical remarks, or just simply your support as comments below!!!

NOTE: Come back in a few days – I will be posting a survey for which I will be putting together questions that both I (and each of YOU!!) have put together, for a survey on Test Managers, which will be used to share the results with conference attendees!

Ask The Tester – May 2013 – Taking Questions Now through 5/6/2013

Thanks to everyone that submitted questions for our article last month.  The interview with John Ruberto from Intuit was just published – you can see the updates at the following link: http://www.softwaretestpro.com/Item/5805/

However, it’s time for our next article… and I need your help.  If you’re a test practitioner, leader, or simply have testing related questions for my May 2013 candidate, please submit a comment to this blog.  If selected, your question will be published in our May 2013 article of ST&QA Magazine (you can view the latest online copy at www.softwaretestpro.com)  I will be taking questions here through the first of May.

I plan to pull together all questions through the next two weeks – so submit your comment / question as soon as possible and increase your chances of being part of our article!!  So let me tell you a little about Jari Laakso……

Jari Laakso
  • He’s a software tester from Finland, living and working in Romania since 2007.
  • He has not only tested software, but has a background in hardware (testing electric wheelchairs, robotics, and mobile devices).
  • He has a passion for solving and creating puzzles, which makes him an excellent test practitioner.
  • He’s a department manager for YOPESO, a 100 person outsourcing company with offices in Germany, Romania, Moldova, and Malaysia.
  • He’s an experienced trainer for testers & monitoring internal processes
  • Active member in the context-driven testing community
  • Member of the Romanian CDT community called “Tabara de Testare (TdT)
  • Member of the Finnish Association of Software Testing (FAST)

You can read more about Jari on his blog at http://jarilaakso.blogspot.com or follow him on Twitter @jarilaakso

Please submit your questions below as comments to this blog.  Please add the following so that we can include in the article:

  • Your Name
  • Title
  • Company / group
  • Geographical location

Jari will now take your questions!

Bucket List – Another Item Checked Off

Through my life and career I have created a bucket list of things I want to do before my time here is up on Earth.

Recently, I was honored by the folks at http://www.ziglar.com by being featured in their weekly newsletter. I am forever grateful to them for allowing me to be part of this, and I hope that I get another opportunity to do this again soon!!

The following link will take you to the article, and if you are not already a subscriber, I would encourage you to do so!

Zig Ziglar Newsletter

This is only the beginning for me. While Ziglar was one of my first stops, I plan to write for many more soon!!!

Playoffs? Don’t Talk About Playoffs!!

Jim Mora says "Playoffs?  Don't Talk About Playoffs!"
Jim Mora says “Playoffs? Don’t Talk About Playoffs!”

This weekend the NFL will be featuring the AFC and NFC Championships. Being a football fan, this is an exciting time, knowing that the two winners will be playing in Superbowl XLVII.

However, it’s just not the same when your team is not in the race to NFL World Champions. Having the playoffs without your team in them is like going to the school dance without a date. It’s exciting, fun, and you will have a good time. But it’s better if you have someone there with you that you care about the most!

So let’s talk about my team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. For those of you who don’t know them well, they are the only team in history to have SIX Superbowl wins. They gave us such great memories in the 1970’s and 1980’s. From the “Steel Curtain” to “The Immaculate Reception”, they have been a team to follow.

No, this is not an Emmitt Smith jersey!
No, this is not an Emmitt Smith jersey!

So you may be asking “Mike, you were born, raised, and live in North Carolina. Why are you not a Carolina Panthers fan?”. First of all, when I was growing up, we didn’t have a team. But most importantly, I was raised to be a Steelers fan from the very start. My grandfather, Charlie Lyles, was one of the biggest fans of the Steelers. I spent many Sundays, with my grandfather and dad, watching our team play on TV. Those are memories I will never forget.

Me @ 11 yrs old
Me @ 11 yrs old

Growing up, I didn’t know there was even an opportunity to be a fan of any other team. I watched the Steelers play their many rivals – the Dallas Cowboys and the Cleveland Browns were the two that stood out as the one’s to beat. When these teams were playing us, we would sit glued to the TV, cheering on our team to beat the opponent. My birthday parties were soon themed as Steelers Parties. And all my friends knew who I felt was the best team in the land.

So now I’m much older than I was during those Steelers birthday parties at 11 years old, but the tradition of Black & Yellow still holds. I’ve followed this team for life, and don’t see it changing. I’m a die hard fan, and if you want some evidence, check out a few of my Steelers Notes below:

  • Didn't Know I Used to Play for Steelers?
    Didn’t Know I Used to Play for Steelers?

    In the 90’s, I joined the Steelers Fan Club. The most memorable benefit of this membership was that you were granted one VIP pass to the Steelers training camp in Latrobe, PA. My brother and I packed up and took a trip to the camp, got to stand on the sidelines during practice, meet several of the players, and get autographs. I remember that our air condition broke on the car about fifteen minutes into the trip and we spent the rest of the trip in the heat, but I will never forget that trip with my brother

  • In 2002, I had the privilege to attend my first AFC Championship game. The Steelers were highly favored to win over the visiting New England Patriots. I remember it was uncharacteristically warm that day – when Pittsburgh saw weather in the 30’s in January, this game was played with the temperature in the high 50’s. The game didn’t go in the Steelers favor, and the Patriots went on to win one of many superbowls in the early 2000’s. (this is when I added the Patriots to my list of rival teams which I could never support).
  • My Son's First Steelers Game @ 7 Months Old
    My Son’s First Steelers Game @ 7 Months Old

    In 2003, my son, Wynston, was born, and in August 2003, the Steelers were visiting the Carolina Panthers. So my young son, at the time 7 months, got to experience his first Steelers game, in a full Steelers outfit, complete with a Steelers bib and bottle. Someday he can blog that his love of Steelers started at birth just like mine.

  • It's Only Weird If It Doesn't Work!
    It’s Only Weird If It Doesn’t Work!

    I have a t-shirt, which says “It’s Not Just Football, It’s Steelers Football”. This old t-shirt gets washed in the offseason. Then, when the season starts, I wear it every game, and then hang it up, unwashed, until the next game. I’ve worn it to live games and at home, and I’ve came to believe that it helps them to win. It’s a crazy superstition, but as the commercial says “its only weird if it doesn’t work”. I also have one of the famous Steeler “Terrible Towels”, a small square yellow towel, that has never ever been washed, and I carry it with me for every game. It’s traveled to many live games, and if it were ever lost, I don’t think the Steelers could ever win again.

  • In January 2011, during the playoffs, I watched as the New York Jets defeated the New England Patriots, making the Steelers the host of the AFC Championship game. I called up my friend, John, and we bought two tickets, drove to Pittsburgh, and prepared for the game. It was 9 degrees on the field that night, but the game was one to remember, as the Steelers defeated the Jets and moved on to the Superbowl. Unfortunately, they were beaten by the Green Bay Packers that year.

So, as you can see, it’s hard for me to watch the playoffs this year without my team there to cheer on. And two teams who always battle hard with the Steelers (the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots) play on Sunday. Who do I pull for in this game? Can I vote for both to lose? I guess not.

With that said, the playoffs these year have been so exciting so far. Close games, double overtime, and historical plays. We can only hope that this continues to happen in the AFC Championship and NFC Championship games as well as the Superbowl. But in the back of my mind, I’ll always wonder ‘what if the Steelers could have made it to the playoffs’. But unfortunately, we’ll never know.

Whoever your favorite team may be, if they are playing this weekend, I wish you the best of luck. For all of the fantasy football fans out there,  I leave you with my predictions – not sure it’s worth much since I predicted at the start of the season that the Steelers would win the Superbowl – but here they are:

  • AFC Championship Game – Baltimore Ravens 35, New England Patriots 31
  • NFC Championship Game – San Francisco 49’ers 27, Atlanta Falcons 17
  • SuperBowl XLVII – San Francisco 49’ers 24, Baltimore Ravens 21 (in Overtime)

10 Things Your Body Is Telling You

You can run, but you can’t hide. Whether you like it or not, your body is always with you everywhere you go. And now is the time to start listening to what it’s saying. Below are ten things that you should notice:

Arm1. When you wake up remind yourself “ARM going to make a difference today”

Every day is a new day. What you have done in your past has already accomplished what it set out to achieve. The only potential you have is to plan today for what you will do in order to make a difference in your life, your career, and the lives of others. Start each day by telling yourself you are going to do at least one thing to make a difference!

Toe2. Don’t let them say – I TOE’d you so

If we could take a poll across the world on how many people are positive all the time, how many are negative all the time, and how many are influenced by every minute of their lives in deciding which they will be, the numbers would be surprising for sure. If someone is giving you advice, analyze the advice and determine if it is a reasonable suggestion. Too many times our own egos tells us that we know better than everyone else. We live in a world full of people with many ideas. We can’t have all the right ones. Sometimes the best ideas in our lives come from those around us. Some of my best blogs have been suggestions or discussions I’ve had with other people. Never discredit the value of people in your life. And never let yourself fail in front of those who have suggested you the way to succeed.

Ear3. Let the whole world EAR your “Voice”

The world wants to hear what you have to say. Let your voice be heard. You have a very short time in this life to make a difference, and there are so many opportunities for you to change not only your life for better, but the lives of others. While there is a time to be heard, there’s a time to be quiet. Sometimes the best things are said when you say nothing at all. Examine your situations and your life, and determine if this is the time to be heard, or simply a time to listen and be quiet.

Groucho Nose4. No one NOSE your potential better than you

One of my favorite quotes among many I have read in the past has been “You can get by on charm for a season – but eventually you have to know something”. Everyone knows people that have more charm than potential. We also know that “perception is reality”. Sometimes it is not about how good you are, but more about how people perceive you. Your goal should always be to present yourself as confident and sincere in your abilities. No one truly knows what all you can accomplish other than you. And chances are very good that you are not performing at the level you truly CAN. Look for ways to improve every day. Ask yourself “What one thing can I do today to be a little better than yesterday?”

Knee5. Look around you for others who desperately KNEE’d your support

There’s a reason we have so many support groups, online support, customer service organizations, discussion websites, and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. People need each other. The question you have to ask yourself is “who needs my help?”. Because there is always something you can do to support others. One thing to remember is that if a poll was taken, it would surely show that some of the best support anyone has ever given has been just to listen to the other person. Sometimes people need someone to hear what is going on and not to be given advice. Who needs you today?

Leg6. LEG go of the things that are holding you back

It’s much easier to climb a mountain when you don’t have to carry a ton of things. Don’t let your past, your circumstances, and others in your life keep you from climbing to where you want to be. Take a hard look at the things you do every day, and ask yourself if everything you are doing is important and helping you to get where you want to be. If not, then start stripping these things from your life and strengthen your focus on efficiency and doing only those things that are important.

Eye7. Keep telling yourself “EYE can do anything if I only try”

I wrote a blog recently on the 5 reasons you should stop chasing your dreams. It detailed all the many things you or others will tell yourself to keep you from doing something you are passionate about. You truly can do anything if you examine what needs to be done in order to achieve it. Don’t let the negative comments, support, and feelings get you down. Rise above it and chase your dreams!

Neck8. Don’t let failure stop you – NECKS time you will be better

When you look at many great people through time, you will find they didn’t succeed on their first attempt. I read somewhere just recently that the more you fail the more you will succeed. This is because failure should be a stepping stone for you to determine what went wrong and how to correct it. Don’t let your hopes be destroyed by a failed dream. Put it behind you and try again. Falling down is okay. If you don’t stand back up, this becomes an issue.

Back9. You will never reach your dreams if you keep looking BACK.

Zig Ziglar once said “Yesterday ended last night”. Such a powerful statement and it’s so accurate. Regardless of what has happened in your past, you only have the opportunity to change today forward. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Focus on the future.

Heart10. Follow your HEART – it knows where you need to be!

Our minds are working overtime every day. We think about so many options, opportunities, things we could have done better, and we approach so many crossroads where a decision has to be made on which direction to take. When you reach these crossroads, you obviously should think logically about your options, but always follow your heart. Search yourself for the true path that you need to take. Your mind should never overrule the heart. Write down your options, look at them, and ask yourself which one means the most to you, and which one you truly feel, deep down, will be the best one to take.

Listen to your body. The advice is priceless and will make you a better person in the long run!