Enable Testers with a Better User Acceptance Testing Process: An Interview with Jim Trentadue

In this interview, Jim Trentadue from Original Software talks about how to balance user acceptance testing with your IT organization and your business. He discusses how to get relevant and repeatable user acceptance tests, capturing test processes in real time, and how quickly tools are evolving.

Jennifer Bonine: All right. We are back with another interview, and we're talking to Jim. Jim, thanks for joining us today.

Jim Trentadue: Thanks, Jennifer. How are you?

Jennifer Bonine: Good, very good. I want to talk about your background.

Jim Trentadue: Okay.

Jennifer Bonine: For folks that don't know you out there, kind of how you got sitting here today. It's always interesting, the paths people take to different careers, so give us a little insight into your background and then we'll jump into some top-of-mind topics for you.

Jim Trentadue: Sure. Absolutely. I've been in the QA industry for probably about seventeen or eighteen years, primarily as a QA manager, QA director, QA vice president, so I decided to change my hat and try it on the vendor side for the last couple years.

Jennifer Bonine: Wow!

Jim Trentadue: It's a little different change.

Jennifer Bonine: You shifted.

Jim Trentadue: I did a shift ...

Jennifer Bonine: You shifted.

Jim Trentadue: Instead of getting in arguments with project managers and fellow managers daily, now I get yelled at by customers. I'm getting yelled at by someone, it's just a different group of people.

Jennifer Bonine: Different group of people that's yelling.

Jim Trentadue: It's fun because it's working with people that have my background.

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Jim Trentadue: I get to talk to a lot of people who share the same background.

Jennifer Bonine: Which is nice. It's interesting to me because you understand their pain. You were there, you know the challenges and the problems. One of the things I know people always struggle with, companies and organizations I talk to on a weekly basis, is around UAT and what do you do with UAT ...

Jim Trentadue: That's a tough one.

Jennifer Bonine: ... and how do you balance that with your IT organization and your business?

Jim Trentadue: Yes.

Jennifer Bonine: I know there's a lot of organizations out there right now challenged right now to say, we don't have enough people to help in the testing. We're bringing the business in on the system testing side and even the functional testing, and then we also have to do the UAT, but they may have been involved already. Right?

Jim Trentadue: Very much so, yeah.

Jennifer Bonine: They're not even at the point where you're turning it over to UAT, they've already looked at it a couple of times. Then, you've got the flip side where people are saying, "I can't get anyone from my business to pay attention and do user acceptance testing." Lots of different flavors of the challenge, but a common challenge.

Jim Trentadue: Oh, very much so. Some of the accountability, do organizations have a dedicated UAT team? If they do, how are they representing the business, because they're still not going to be the functional experts for what they need to represent, and how much time does UAT allocate? If testing time usually gets cut, UAT time gets slashed.

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Jim Trentadue: Right, so it's ...

Jennifer Bonine: They're really at the end.

Jim Trentadue: They're really at the end, and when I felt bad that my time got cut, and it was always a subset of my time, but it's also understanding, not repeating those same tests. How can we enable them with some better technology to have repeated tests for them where they can not only use that as UAT test cases, but how can they do that as training material as well? How can they start to get some things that are at least better for them and their organization? One of the main things that we've seen, at least in my years as a QA manager, QA director, has always been the accountability.

Jennifer Bonine: Yes.

Jim Trentadue: It's been tough to make sure I can have them accountable to ensure that they're not breaking the business as well.

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Jim Trentadue: If we delay a bill to them for testing, does it impact their month-end testing, does it impact this? We have to be cognizant that they have their production jobs to do.

Jennifer Bonine: Right. They have their day job.

Jim Trentadue: They have their day jobs and we have to make sure that we are supplying them, as a QA organization, I'll say IT as a whole, but I'm putting the onus on us as a QA organization to enable our UAT counterparts with the best chance for success.

Jennifer Bonine: You said something that sounds fabulous, because in my time in your world, too, leading large-scale testing organization, I would have absolutely loved to be enabled to have something for the business that was repeatable. Right?

Jim Trentadue: That's right.

Jennifer Bonine: That they could use, that was relevant to what they were actually doing, but you hit on something else, which is, and then it's also usable for training.

Jim Trentadue: That's right.

Jennifer Bonine: That's the next piece, right?

Jim Trentadue: That's right.

Jennifer Bonine: You have a subset of people who are involved in UAT, but then you have an entire business organization, which can be incredibly large, that then needs to do something with new software.

Jim Trentadue: They're writing these test cases. If they're putting the effort into writing these test cases, they're writing them from the business perspective, how would this not serve as great training material ...

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Jim Trentadue: ... so, it doesn't have to be re-created each and every time?

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah.

Jim Trentadue: We try to do that in the QA world for our ... When QA associates, and you have that background, too ...

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah.

Jim Trentadue: ... when new QA associates have started, typically we've given them some legacy test cases to go run to get practice on.

Jennifer Bonine: Mm-hmm.

Jim Trentadue: How about a production script to be ready for?

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah.

Jim Trentadue: Yeah, so that's something that's certainly can be ... It's viable to do.

Jennifer Bonine: Absolutely. Can you tell me a little bit about how you do that? Obviously, we've probably intrigued people's interest to say, "Okay, that sounds fabulous. How do I get that?"

Jim Trentadue: To me, it's enabling them with some technology that can be there to record their steps, it's taking screenshots along the way. We have these manual editor tools that we're using, but how much of the technology we're using in QA, how much of that extends into UAT?

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Jim Trentadue: In QA, we have tools that can check web services, we can do security ...

Jennifer Bonine: Oh, yeah.

Jim Trentadue: ... we have tools that maintain our manual tests, our test management systems, our automation tests, but how much of that transfers over to UAT?

Jennifer Bonine: Right, yeah.

Jim Trentadue: Yet, that's such a critical part of our business.

Jennifer Bonine: Oh, absolutely.

Jim Trentadue: How can we enable them with a manual testing process that feeds into our overall QA process as well, in to the entire application quality management lifecycle?

Jennifer Bonine: Right.

Jim Trentadue: Enabling them with the technology, with being able to capture screenshots, being able to annotate on the screens to say how can you see that ...

Jennifer Bonine: Oh, wow.

Jim Trentadue: ... to be able to take that in.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah.

Jim Trentadue: Now, I want to work with UAT results real-time. I don't want to have to go track down and ask ...

Jennifer Bonine: No.

Jim Trentadue: ... Mrs. So and So, or Mr. So and So, what's your status for the day? I'm sorry, we're doing a production run, we can't talk to you right now.

Jennifer Bonine: Right, we're busy. Come back later.

Jim Trentadue: That's right. I want to know real-time where our gaps are.

Jennifer Bonine: Right, exactly. You're telling me there's actually a tool out there that can help enable and do this for people.

Jim Trentadue: There is.

Jennifer Bonine: To capture the screenshots.

Jim Trentadue: There is.

Jennifer Bonine: For folks that are watching going, "Okay, I want it, what is it?" If they haven't heard of it, can we give a little bit about what that tool is ...

Jim Trentadue: Yeah, absolutely.

Jennifer Bonine: ... and I also heard that that tool can do automated exploratory testing.

Jim Trentadue: To a degree, to a degree. We have a tool out there from Original Software called TestDrive-UAT.

Jennifer Bonine: Okay.

Jim Trentadue: Which, what we feel is the only UAT tool, we know that it's the only UAT tool out on the market.

Jennifer Bonine: I was going to say, because I've heard of a lot of things and I have not heard of this one ...

Jim Trentadue: Not a UAT tool.

Jennifer Bonine: ... so, I'm excited.

Jim Trentadue: It's about recording and capturing screenshots. Working on any technology to allow a user to be able to annotate on-screen, be able to produce training documents, be able to quickly transfer this into an application quality system, so now you can see real-time results. It's very lightweight, it's very easy to pick and learn. It's definitely one that addresses a business need, a key business need in UAT.

Jennifer Bonine: Absolutely, yeah.

Jim Trentadue: Yeah.

Jennifer Bonine: I had a discussion earlier this week about the fact that tools in general in the IT organization are starting to evolve, because there was a perspective that a lot of the tools out in the market space were really built for more of the geeks. Right?

Jim Trentadue: Yes.

Jennifer Bonine: The technology people themselves.

Jim Trentadue: That's right.

Jennifer Bonine: I heard one person tell me that the analogy of, a lot of the tools look like they were built by twelve-year-olds in their bedroom in the 1980s. Right? They weren't evolving as fast as some of the open source. Then, you saw this open source coming in because it could evolve really quickly, but now we're seeing other tools evolve as well ...

Jim Trentadue: That's right.

Jennifer Bonine: ... and start to engage other segments of the population, so with agile and some of the other things, you've got business users, you've got other people who want to get involved in the process of building the solution. It sounds like this tool enables them very easily to get engaged.

Jim Trentadue: Very easily.

Jennifer Bonine: That you've evolved it to be fairly lightweight because that's always been the roadblock. Right? People look at a tool and go ...

Jim Trentadue: Absolutely.

Jennifer Bonine: ... I can't figure that out. I can't write that.

Jim Trentadue: Very lightweight and very easy for a business user to make the best use of their time.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah.

Jim Trentadue: We want to make sure that they have the time to do their production job ...

Jennifer Bonine: Yep.

Jim Trentadue: ... but still hold them accountable so I can see what they tested, where they tested, how long it took, where the defects were immediately, that all they have to do is when they save it, then all that information is there for me.

Jennifer Bonine: Wow. Then it catalogs it so you've got some traceability of what was done, you've got artifacts that you can tie back to, to give assurance when someone says well, how come we didn't look at this, or how come we didn't look at that. You've got that, too, ...

Jim Trentadue: You have that.

Jennifer Bonine: ... to point towards it.

Jim Trentadue: You have that traceability, and it allows then every time a script is recorded from a UAT perspective, now they have something to go back to each and every time.

Jennifer Bonine: Wow.

Jim Trentadue: There is no problem to find out what they tested and how or where the defect was. They can actually mark it up on the screen. It allows them functionality to mark up on the screen to show where this may need to be changed, this is informational, this is an error, this is very, very new technology.

Jennifer Bonine: On average, with the people you've been working with and different clients and customers using this type of tool, how long is it taking them from the time they procure it, right? I know procurement takes a long time.

Jim Trentadue: Of course, that's a long process.

Jennifer Bonine: That's the hurdle, is can I procure it, but once you've gotten the tool, it's been procured, it's now in your environment, how long is it taking them to go from I've got it, get it installed, and get people able to be using it and productive in a UAT cycle?

Jim Trentadue: Less than a week.

Jennifer Bonine: Wow.

Jim Trentadue: Within days.

Jennifer Bonine: Okay.

Jim Trentadue: Within a minute. Of course, it's learning ...

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah.

Jim Trentadue: ... but there's, the learning curve on this is so minimal that it will take almost no time, and we offer a trial for that to let people go in there and decide for themselves.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah.

Jim Trentadue: I haven't heard anything more than two, three days that it's taken people to get to up to speed on this.

Jennifer Bonine: Great.

Jim Trentadue: Like I said, it's a very lightweight tool.

Jennifer Bonine: Lightweight.

Jim Trentadue: It's meant for the business user.

Jennifer Bonine: If people want to get more information—we're already out of time, it goes so fast—but if they want to see a demo ...

Jim Trentadue: Yeah, absolutely.

Jennifer Bonine: ... or if they want to see more information, where can we point them to go get that?

Jim Trentadue: Oh, please contact Original Software at origsoft.com. We would love to take you through it.

Jennifer Bonine: Awesome. Thank you so much, Jim. I appreciate it.

Jim Trentadue: All right, Jennifer. Thank you.

Jim T.Jim Trentadue has more than seventeen years of experience as a coordinator/manager in the software testing field. Jim’s various career roles in testing have focused on test execution, automation, management, environment management, standards deployment, and test tool implementation. In the area of offshore testing, Jim has worked with multiple large firms to develop and coordinate cohesive relationships. As a guest speaker at the University of South Florida’s software testing class, Jim mentors students on the testing industry and trends for future job searches and continued training. Most recently, Jim has worked at testing solutions companies, focusing on quality management, test automation, manual testing, UAT and test data management.

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