Why Testers Are Starting to Look More like Developers: An Interview with Mike Faulise

In this interview, Mike Faulise, the founder and managing partner at tap|QA, explains how organizations are trying to move toward continuous integration and taking in automation. Consequently, he says, testers are cultivating more technical skill sets and starting to look more like developers.

Jennifer Bonine: All right, we are back with our last interview of this segment before you guys see some more presentations, and I'm here with Mike Faulise.

Mike Faulise: Hello.

Jennifer Bonine: Mike, thanks for joining us again.

Mike Faulise: Hello.

Jennifer Bonine: Mike is one of the founders of tap|QA. So, why don't you tell us, Mike, a little bit about what you're seeing here as an owner that does pure-play QA and just focuses on quality? Obviously, a great place for you to be, being that there's lots of testers here and lots people of people worried about quality.

Mike Faulise: We love it here at STARWEST. Hashtag STARWEST, hashtag tapQA.

Jennifer Bonine: There you go, so now you can all tweet us, I think. Right?

Mike Faulise: Yes.

Jennifer Bonine: Okay, good. What we want to do is talk about some of … As an owner of an organization, you obviously deal with lots of companies, organizations, you're out there talking to different people. What are some of the things you're hearing, what are people worried about? What should people be thinking about right now?

Mike Faulise: Sure. You know, I think it's been interesting. We've seen a lot of organizations try to merge and go towards CI—continuous integration—and really taking in automation. One of those trends has been that the tester is now starting to look more like a developer. The hard part for organizations is that that requires a much more technical skill set. So, for our QA organizations that, whether you're a five-person or a couple of people or twenty people, when you start having technical QA people, there is become a very large attrition rate for a technical tester.

What I mean by that is that the trend is that somebody learns how to code in C# or Java, they stay within a group for a little bit, and then they end up going to become a developer. So there may not necessarily be attrition outside the organization, but it's attrition within just a QA group. So we're having a very tough time, just as a QA community, keeping technical testers employed within the QA organization.

So that's been something that we've had to … you know, really looking at large Fortune 100, 5000 organizations, kind of looking at, "Is this a skill set that we actually want to internalize?" So, what we've really started to look at is, the trend now has been that this is a skill set that's definitely needed for agile and lean and, doing CI automation, we need this skill set. But it may not be one that we can long-term have at an organization. So either you have to use your organization as a feeder-pool for developers to say, "Hey, you're going to start here for six months, then you're going to go into development, but you got to make sure that this is maintainable." That's one way to do it, and I think that's a great way to make sure you've got continuity with your CI automation.Or find a partner, like tap|QA, that knows how to continue to maintain this at a relatively cost-effective way. So definitely an interesting trend we've seen.

Jennifer Bonine: You bring up a good point around partners. So, for folks out there that are saying, "Okay, we've heard about cool things like that. We've heard about CI, we've heard about open source tools for automation, we've heard about virtual environments, we've heard about all this stuff that we could potentially use. We haven't done it before, we don't know how to do it. Our organization is just trying to figure it out. We're kind of overwhelmed by all these tools and choices and options and stuff. When should I leverage a partner and how do I find partners to work with to help me figure out these things?"

Mike Faulise: Yeah, I think that's a great question. The first and foremost, conferences are certainly a great place. I think TechWell does a great job of getting a lot of great vendors in place that specialize in a lot of different areas. So a conference is a great place to start to look for other people that are asking those same questions.

But really, I think the number one thing you've got to do is look for a national partner that can help build road maps. I think we, in the past, being in the consulting services world for over twenty years, we used to see a lot of reviews and assessments. They end up being so much throwaway stuff, because you already know what you have and what you don't have, so you don't really need to know that. You need that road map painted. So, whether you pick a partner, like tap|QA, or someone else, I think that the biggest thing that you want to get out of it is getting that road map and having them help you align with that. I think that's been probably the number one thing that we've really recommended organizations.

Jennifer Bonine: That makes sense, right? So, rather than trying to struggle through it on your own and figure it out, if you've never been down this path, there are organizations that can help you with that, build that road map. That will actually speed up your velocity to getting there, versus trying to figure it out from scratch, never having done it.

Mike Faulise: Yeah.

Jennifer Bonine: So I think that's a great tip for folks out there. If people are interested, they're intrigued, they want to learn more about tap|QA—we didn't even scratch the surface on what tap|QA specializes in. Obviously testing, but different solutions—what is the best way to get in touch with tap|QA or you or your organization?

Mike Faulise: Number one, go to tapQA.com and send an email to [email protected]. That's the best way to get a hold of us, and someone will get right out to you. I think the number one differentiator and thing that tap|QA specializes in, as Jennifer had mentioned, we are a pure-play QA organization. We are in North America and soon to be Europe—as Jennifer is very excited about—and we really specialize in a couple of different areas, predominantly in CI automation, as well as strategic quality.

Jennifer Bonine: Perfect. Thanks, Mike, for being here.

Mike Faulise: Thank you.

Jennifer Bonine: Thanks, everyone. Catch us in a few for more interviews after the next presentation.

Mike FMichael 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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