STAREAST 2015 Interview with Mike Faulise on Continuous Integration and Test Automation


Mike Faulise speaks on his STAREAST presentation. Look for more keynotes, sessions, and interviews at this year’s STARWEST conference in Anaheim.


In this interview from STAREAST 2015, TapQA's Mike Faulise goes into detail on continuous integration and continuous delivery, the required technical skills needed to implement these methods, and how automation is embedded today.

Jennifer Bonine: All right, we are back with more virtual interviews. I have Mike Faulise with me from TapQA.

Mike Faulise: Hello.

Jennifer Bonine: Hi, Mike. Thanks for joining us. All right, Mike, you are an owner of TapQA. Can you tell us a little bit about what makes TapQA different or special in your space?

Mike Faulise: Sure. At TapQA, we've been around for the better part of twelve years, rebranded about six, seven years ago. And what makes TapQA very unique and special is that not only do we hire individuals throughout TapQA that we really bring back jobs from offshore onshore, but we're doing it at very competitive rates, almost identical to what'd you do if you were offshore. The beauty of that has been that now we're bringing a lot of jobs, and to date, we've brought 350 jobs back to the US that were overseas. It's been a great thing for TapQA. It's been a great thing for the US. It's been a great thing for folks looking for jobs in the US, as well.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, and obviously as an employer of people and doing a lot of hiring, for those out there that are watching, that are saying, "You know, I'm ready for a change, I've maybe never done consulting. I want to try it," or "I'm interested in a new opportunity or a new career," what are you looking at as an employer, and what are some of the things that are important to you when you're saying, "Yeah, this person, I really want them as a part of my organization"? What's important to you?

Mike Faulise: At TapQA, we're QA only. We don't necessarily focus on people that are MIS grads or engineers, because one of the things we find is that the number one thing that is important to me is that you have to be able to have both analytical skills, which a lot of engineering and technical degrees have, but you also have to be creative. Unfortunately, not all those technical people have those creative skills that we need in the QA world. We really look for someone that has musical talent, that has a music degree because musicians—and when you work with the mind and the music world—you have to be very analytical and precise about what you're doing, but you also have to have the freedom of creativity. The freedom of creativity really sparks us, so what we're looking for is certainly folks that have that creativity, whether it's through music or something else. That's what we look for.

One of the other things that we look for is in today's generation, especially the millennial generation, one of the things we look for is people that can actually have a great discussion with focusing on the eyes, not the phone. I need to have that cross-generational discussion. One of the things that we like to do is validate that: that folks in that generation or any generation can really talk to someone that might be thirty or forty years older than them or younger than them. That's another big thing that we're looking for.

Quite frankly, the last thing that we love to see is, we get a lot of resumes that look the same. What we really want to be able to see is, when you put your resume in, your resume has to tell your story about who you are, and so I love seeing stories on the resume and not just a resume. We're looking for stories, so make sure your resume tells the story about who you are and shows some personality and actually really comes across that way.

Jennifer Bonine: I know you do a lot with helping people, because obviously, as consultants, you go in and have to do interviews and you have to meet clients and you have to get your point across. As individuals out there that are just trying to take another interview and they haven't done one for a while, I know you do a lot of coaching on interviewing. What's some advice you can give people on how to stand out more when they go in to interview with a company or when they go in to talk to people, to make them differentiate themselves from others?

Mike Faulise: Sure. Some of the best advice I can give is this, and listen up closely, because this is the most important thing I'm going to tell you. Interviews, and when you do an interview, it has to be like a fairy tale. In every good fairy tale, there are three real huge elements: There are characters, there's drama, and then there's a crescendo moment. The problem with people that interview is they go in and they talk about these big crescendo moments—I did this, I know that, or I know this—and there's no context around what that is.

When you do interviews and when people do these things, they want to know, “Who did you work with?” Because everybody knows that Bob who drinks coffee has awful breath. How did you deal with that guy in the morning? We want to know the characters, both evil and good, that you worked with, and then we want to know the drama that you faced. You've got to be able to tell those stories and be able to encapsulate that into like a fairy tale of your life. If you do that, you're going to find yourself winning more and more interviews, because people are going to connect with you as opposed to just seeing those big crescendo moments.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, so creating that connection and finding ways to do that in those interviews you're doing out there. Good advice for all of you that may need to do that in the future, or who interview people, something to look for. Something else that I think would be interesting for people to hear is, what are some of the trends that you're seeing? Because obviously, TapQA and consulting works with lots of companies, sees lots of different things. What are you seeing as trends in mobile right now?

Mike Faulise: One of the things that we're seeing is when we see mobile application testing, certainly it started with a lot of phones and tablets. What you saw was a lot of product companies come out with emulators that worked to help emulate a phone or emulate a tablet or emulate multiple browsers. What we're seeing is the next advancement of mobile application testing is really about how does it work on a television, does it work in an auto, how does it work with a Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV?

All of these streaming media platforms are now the next area where product companies will catch up and create the emulation and be able to do it, but right now you really have to figure out how are you going to test. If you're planning on deploying a mobile app that Samsung might be interested in putting on their TVs on a smart TV, how are you going to test that, because there are 700 types of TVs out there? It's a huge problem that organizations that are in that space are going to have to start dealing with, and we at TapQA are at the forefront of that—figuring out how the process and the people can do the work when the technologies not there yet.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, because I mean you do, you find that the tools and stuff lag because they're waiting for that stuff to come out, and then after it comes out they have to develop on it. In the interim, firms like TapQA and the companies have to figure it out.

Mike Faulise: Yeah.

Jennifer Bonine: And have a strategy for dealing with it. In general, again, working across lots of organizations, talking to lots of executives, what are you seeing as things keeping people up at night in terms of executives right now or things that they're concerned about that they come to you and say, "Help us, we need to know how to do this"?

Mike Faulise: I think one of the big things that we see executives really struggle with is as they, whether they're going from a production support organization to a software developer, I think most CIOs are recognizing that no matter what your industry, their software development tests occur in your organization, and with the advent of agile and DevOps and a lot of these things that are moving in a faster pace, you also have to be able to give employees the ability to work remote, but yet we have to all do stuff today. It's not the idea like in the ‘90s, where we had a lot of this, “We're going to develop twenty-four hours per day,” which has really gone away.

The trend is now more of “I need to do stuff faster, quicker, and better,” but within a time zone, within … you know, when my employees are here, how do I connect with them, and how do they connect with the consulting firms, the contractors, or the other vendors that they're utilizing? That's the struggle that a lot of sales are facing today, and that's where we see consulting firms like ours trying to help address that by having models here on site for them to use, as well as being able to help them leverage different platforms that are here locally.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, because I think we are hearing a lot, I mean you and I have been in this industry about the same amount of time and it used to be, you know when we want, follow the sun support, right? We're going to go all the way around the globe and work twenty-four hours a day and do stuff and certainly I'm seeing it, a lot of companies seem to be saying that's great, but I need to get it done when I'm doing it. I can't wait a day or to the next day to resolve issues, I want more real-time involvement or engagement in getting things resolved. Is that something you're seeing as well?

Mike Faulise: Yeah, definitely we're seeing a lot of things. I think the World Quality Report said that we're seeing a huge advancement in organizations really believing in QA, creating a center of excellence around QA and really bringing a lot of those things back from maybe they're off-shoring or just trying to attempt to do that. We're certainly seeing that being coalesced into organizations because they want that more agile response. They want to be able to work when their developers are working, when their business folks are there. That's what we're finding is more critical. Whether it's on the DevOps side, whether it's on the software development side … that's what we're now seeing the CIOs faced with and executives in organizations. It continues to be a growing problem.

Jennifer Bonine: I think you mentioned the World Quality Report, they just recently came out with another one and you know, the trend is people spending more money on quality and needing to invest in that and from a TapQA perspective, if it's an organization out there saying, "I think I'm doing a good job, I'm not sure I may need some advice or just an external viewpoint on how I'm doing things or what I'm doing." What do you guys offer to people you work with in terms of services around just strategy and creating that road map for them?

Mike Faulise: Sure, one of the things and this is great, all of you executives out there listening, we as an organization really recognize that there is some strategic quality you have to have within your organization, and part of that is how are you partnering with your business? The other piece of it is how are you actually developing that in software, using benders to create your IT infrastructure for you?

One of the things that we offer is certainly a quick review of what are you doing today and that's a very short-term engagement that we can help organizations really understand where they're at today. Then we can help look at those gaps and make recommendations, not only showing them where the gaps are, but really make the recommendations regardless of whether they use TapQA or not to really help understand. These things take between two and four weeks in general for us to really help them better understand their own quality and then where they're actually trying to drive to. We found that to be incredibly invaluable for organizations to have that third-party viewpoint and really review what they're doing both from a resources, processes, and technology perspective.

Jennifer Bonine: Yeah, and as a deliverable out of that, I'm assuming they get a report and you know something they can really take to their leadership and say, "Here's my plan for ..."

Mike Faulise: We certainly do. We give them sometimes really thick reports, sometimes really thin, but we always encapsulate that into a presentation that we can give to executives that really boils down what those recommendations are. Certainly that's what they get out of it, and we found again, it's incredibly invaluable. Please, come check us out if that's something you are interested in doing, and we can send you an example of one at any time.

Jennifer Bonine: Mike, in terms of … You're also doing a presentation here at the conference, a technical presentation for the industry and for those folks that don't know, you've been doing this a while and came up and grew up through the ranks of QA and have done a lot around performance and stuff like that. Maybe just give a little bit of background for folks just so they kind of understand where you've come from in terms of this industry.

Mike Faulise: Yes, I've been in the consulting world for about twenty years and started more as a technician or had to learn how to be a technician then I was a technician. I did a lot of performance testing in the ‘90s and early 2000s with the Internet boom and really helped a lot of organizations that didn't have a … “how are we going to do load and performance testing?” working with large organizations like the Amazons and the NASTECHs, figuring out their online strategy and helping ensure that they could handle the volume they could.

Since then, I've become less and less technical. Today, doing a presentation, talking a little bit about continuous integration and mobile application testing. So part of that's going to be as we start to see mobile application testing really advance into beyond the phone, beyond the tablet what happens when things are on smart TVs, they're on buses, they are on all streaming media platforms such as Roku, Chromecast, and how organizations are going to do that. That's certainly something that we’ve gotten at the forefront of so we've got some solutions that we'll be addressing at today's presentation at a very high level because again, I've become less and less technical as the years have gone on. Certainly I'll be dipping my toes and getting just over my ski tips to talk about these things.

Jennifer Bonine: Perfect; it goes so fast. We're already out of time, but if people want to connect with you, connect with TapQA, best ways to do that?

Mike Faulise: Best way to connect with TapQA is or send us an email at [email protected]. We'd love to hear from you.

Jennifer Bonine: Awesome, thanks, Mike.

Mike Faulise: Thank you, Jennifer.

Mike FauliseMichael Faulise is the founder and managing partner at tap|QA, LLC, a global company that specializes in quality solutions for businesses. Mike focuses on sales and delivery where he consults with clients in the areas of leading development, quality assurance and testing, technology and process training, and process improvement. He has seen software development evolve along the multiple paths of various methodologies but has found quality has remained essentially constant.

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