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During his visit to QA&TEST, Peter Francome explained how the testing department in Virgin Media works, and also the key challenges he is facing with such a big testing team.
Read below the whole interview:
What is the structure and size of the testing and QA department in Virgin Media?
We’ve grown steadily over the last three years. Three years ago we outsourced our testing practice to a center. The reason for doing that was to increase efficiency of our test organization, reduce cost and improve delivery times. We’ve now got a team that’s about 250 in size, 75% of those people are offshore. It is important for me to make sure that we see this people; I go out there two or three times a year. It is important for me to understand what they are doing, and for them to understand the direction the company is taking and the challenges we have as well. I think most importantly to our success is I have a small retain team, they’re people of solid experience, test professionals, who help manage the service; so we don’t outsource our commercial offering, we don’t outsource our testing strategy, we keep that in-house. So we really look to do the commoditized testing for us.
What are the key challenges you are facing with such a big testing team?
Prior to Virgin Media I used to head up testing within Vodafone, in the UK. I think it’s about… I guess, in a nutshell, it’s around control, but also motivation as well. So we survive having the right structuring, so the people can feel motivated to do a good job. What we do in Virgin Media is we organize ourselves by portfolio so, for example, our operation is across TV, broadband, fix line and mobile so, for example, in our TV space we will have portfolio leads, and they will be responsible for delivering the testing of the projects for all the TV projects in there. And we’ll probably have a team of 60 or 70 people, of testers, but they are controlled by team managers, portfolio leads. And also what that allows us to do is build scales in those areas, so TV is a particularly scaled area for us, as is all of them, but TV particularly, you need to have a good technical understanding, as well as allows them to be able to focus to main expertise as well.
What are the key infrastructures needed?
I’m a great believer in giving the testers tools to do their jobs. What I mean really by that, mostly it’s around environments so, very early on in our service we make sure that we invested in our environment estate. We spent significant amounts of money, both, in getting the right people and getting the right infrastructure in order to be able to do efficient testing around test automation, test data… and environments, and then, innovating on top of that. The innovation is a sort of… the heart of what we do as well so I mentioned earlier about Perfecto Mobiles, source labs and storm test. And that’s good for us, because it allows us to increase our productivity, but it is good for our people as well, because it allows them to be able to build specific skills in those domains, in order to make it more efficient.
During QA&TEST, Debarchan Dash discussed about the structure and size of the testing and QA department in Samsung, and the the key challenges they are facing
Below you will find the transcript of the interview:
What is the structure and size of the testing and QA department in Samsung?
Well, we have around 580 people, in my QA department. There are different roles, and the roles are responsible of certifying according to the software engineering, so multiple people ready on the skillsets, starting from software engineers to test managers, and they have different hierarchy defined in Samsung
What type of embedded devices are you testing?
Our major embedded device is the mobile devices that release to market. Apart from that we are also dealing with consumer electronic devices, including TVs, including the chipsets, so we can deal with the printers, so many embedded devices; whatever you can see in the market.
What are the key challenges you are facing?
In my experience, the challenging aspects are like when we release something in the market, the time to release to the market, is really plain important factor, because we never know like what time it is release to market, and if the duration is very short, and in the time duration, what type of testing we can really do, and we should not miss any type of testing in that context as well. So it is really challenging like what kind of testing we should choose, what should be the frequency of different types of testing, and how effectively we can bring automation into picture in those durations, so one of the most challenging factors, yes.
Nancy Van Schooenderwoert talked about scrum, agile and lean, and the key aspects when implementing these techniques in an embedded environment.
Are you interested in Nancy interview? Find here the transcript:
What is currently known about the use of scrum and agile methods in hardware development?
What is currently known is… there’s sometimes when iteration won’t work very well, because some kinds of hardware just can’t be done in a short time’s frame, but base design is a well proven tactic for that. You use a parallel approach, which was done in our automotive industry, you know, in the famous car wars between Toyota and the US companies. They would develop ideas in parallel, invest in them, and as they learnt more, they cut off the branches that didn’t work. And it turned out to be a worthwhile investment, rather than zeroing in too early on an idea.
What are the key aspects when implementing agile in an embedded environment?
Well, for embedded software you often got to make a decision about when you’re going to depart from all the hardware, or keep supporting it in branches of software and have more complexity. You either got to invest in handling all the complexity or decide where cut things. I found very important for me and my team to be able to have some kind of a separation layer between the software and the hardware. We were able to do that through the type of operating system that we used. And there are other techniques when you can’t do that, but it’s really important to be able to quickly separate software from hardware problems. And one of the reasons we were successful is because we could do that very quickly, we didn’t waste time… arguing about whose bug it was.
What is the relation between lean and agile?
Yeah, that’s a good one… I would say that agile is a set of practices that emerged primarily from software development. And the people who emerged those practices early on, didn’t realize that it was so in line with lean thinking. That got introduced when the agile community was about 3 years old or so. And we found that the lean principles were completely in line with software development, but they had different practices, those practices were suitable for manufacturing and for making many copies of physical things. So that’s got some important differences from development, the core ideas of flow and understanding where value is added, and those core ideas really matter. We were just instinctively keeping our eye on that in the early age of software community. So I think that’s how the two communities complement one another. So I’d suggest that you can apply lean principles to other areas of engineering practice and that’s why I’m promoting the engineering program to the Agile Alliance.