My year 2013 in review

The year is finally coming to an end. So it is time for a résumé.

It was a long year for me. On January 2nd, I started my new job and with that a change in my tester’s life began, in several ways.

I’m only following the community now for about 15 months and the CDT-community has changed my life as a tester. I started thinking more about testing and all that belongs to it, than ever before. Following a lot of great people on Twitter, reading lots of blogs and articles, reading great books about testing and not-directly testing related books, testing magazines and watching videos from some of the test conferences brought a new dimension to my tester’s life.
A short Twitter discussion or dialog with great people like Michael Bolton or the always inspiring Leah Stockley can absolutely make my day. Those are only two of many examples.
Thanks everyone for teaching me something new every day.

My new job showed me, how bad I am as a team lead and as a manager. Maybe I am not really that bad, because at least some members of my team think I’m a not so bad as a boss. But I became very critical with myself. Well, my new job showed me, that I can be a good tester again after all those years. Good, nothing more, but I would say also nothing less.
In the beginning I had to deal with my new team members and convincing them, why I am the new lead. And I was not able to convince a “veteran” of 13 years to change his style of testing and documentation. The decision of the upper management was then to let him go instead of me, but that was my first personal defeat of the year. He started reading and learning about testing only after he got his notice, but he never changed his way of doing things.
Another defeat was a situation with the coming back of two contractors to my team, who were trained (badly) on the product I’m responsible for, the year before. Those contractors were not onsite, so harder to control and manage, at least for me. And I was not willing to spend enough time to extend my tracking of their work in every little detail and was trying to compensate it on my own, which was not really possible. I was not willing to teach and train contractors who call themselves senior testers and consultants, who do such a bad testing job, how to do it better. With that I got a lot of problems later that year because of the bad quality we delivered as a company. But that’s what a lead is for, to be blamed, which is OK for me. I am responsible for the testing, and that was done very bad.

But with my improved testing skills and the confidence I gained using them, I became way more efficient to the end of the year. I was even able to serve six or seven projects in parallel, additional to the budget planning for 2014. Not to imagine what would have been possible if I would have had the time to concentrate on one project at a time.

I was becoming so confident with my testing skills and everything else I learned to step forward in the companies’ monthly know how transfer sessions and deliver one or sometimes even two topics per month. Sadly most of the time I was presenting alone. But at least I stood up and tried to spread the word amongst the companies’ test departments. I want to improve the style and quality of testing of my complete company, after I have seen how much I was able to improve in such a short time.

With two contractors, not the same as above, onsite now, and an intern I started my first project with session-based test management, and it went awesome so far. I prepared quite a long time, read lots of blogs and articles about the topic and created a test strategy I am really proud of. With the help of my colleagues who have never even heard of session-based testing before, that became a big success. I still have to do a lot of home work to improve it and focus more on the debriefing, but what a great and fitting approach for the project I planned and used it for. The team has fun, the reporting is inspiring and with things like group debriefing we are all able to learn from each other. And I learned a lot.

The time on the commuter train is awesome to keep up-to-date with Twitter and all my reading. I was driving by car or sometimes by bike to work for the past 13 years. Now I enjoy my time in the morning and evening. I have about half an hour each way for my own reading, which is hard to keep up at home. I nearly tripled the way to work, but I learned to spend the time wisely.

Pocket is an awesome helper to keep track of things to read. Seeing a link on Twitter, add it to Pocket and it read it later. Seeing a link in a blog while using Pocket to read, add the link and read it later. If I want to skim through the articles I have read, it’s easy.
Pocket sent me a mail, that I belong to the top 5% of pocket users. Having read about 14 times the Great Gatsby. I might not have read all of the articles that I saved to Pocket to the full extend, but it did not count the about 5% of articles that pocket was not able to display, the linked PDFs, testing magazines, the books I read, and the videos I watched. So, wow, I think, I read more than the past 5-10 years in total.

One bad thing I also had to learn is, that the tension with all the problems I had to face at the end of the year, can create the most severe neck pain I ever had in my life. I’m glad to have one more week to get rid of that.

And I even have some plans for next year. Not too much, because I like to react to the things as they come along. But the following things are on my list.

  • Improve my test documentation. The documentation suffered a lot, serving too many projects in parallel. So it needs to get better, which should not be that hard.
  • Improve my scripting and automation skills to finally get some automation in place and speed up my testing even more.
  • Read more books. There are a couple of books on my list that sound promising, so I am looking forward to that.
  • Improve my managing skills with the help of the basics I learned from SBTM.
  • Provide more training sessions to my colleagues and inspire them to step forward and deliver some nice topics on their own.
  • Improve my own testing, of course. The poor development team has never seen more bugs found than in the past quarter and I hope to improve that even more with the little team I will have.
  • If I find the time, I want to continue and hopefully finish renovating the guest bath room. My wife has to suffer under that construction site for now nearly a year.
  • I want to spend more time on my lathe and produce some beautiful things of wood. There is so much I want to learn and practice. And I want to make and sell more pens again next year, making people happy who use them or give them away as a gift.
  • And of course I want to spend as much time as possible with my now nearly four year old daughter and my wonderful wife.

I want to thank everyone in the community for their inspiration and I wish you all a happy year 2014.