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Tech Talks With Ard Kramer

25-May-2023

By Sahil Verma

Tech Talks With Ard Kramer

From the massive inclination towards generative AI to a more informed global user group, tech transformation is taking over the world. The growing demand for business-specific and user-dedicated applications has pushed the developers to go beyond the limits.  

However, the extensive demand and need for variation requires active focus on QUALITY! 

From yielding business productivity to driving user satisfaction, quality assurance serves as a passage to sustainable development. With innovation as its DNA, quality assurance creates space for richer functionality, dynamic performance, and reliable output.   

Since nurturing quality assurance solutions into the ever-growing technology landscape requires a wider perspective, we at Bugraptors constantly aim to expand our vision as a community. And therefore, our QA expert, Sahil Verma, recently held a conversation with Ard Kramer a.k.a Qualisopher.  

With more than two decades of familiarity with the concepts of QA, Ard has touched so many industries and fields. He holds a knack for building connections as he believes that harnessing connections allows people to learn from each other.  

Ard even has an interest in sports and therefore he also works as a volleyball trainer and coach. Ard is amazing with managing multiple roles and responsibilities across different industries and organizations. To underline, he is the Member of the council for the Dutch Volleyball Association (NeVoBo), Chairman of CultuurLocaal, responsible for cultural education (music, theater) in Barendrecht, and DEWT (a platform dedicated to testing and the related advancements). 

And with all that information about Ard, let us quickly jump on the conversation to learn his look out at quality, agile test strategies, test automation with AI/ML, and more.  

Sahil: How will you explain quality? 

Ard: I generally subscribe to the definition that "quality is value in the eye of the beholder". This definition raises some interesting topics: 

It depends: each individual may have specific needs and expectations regarding what a product means to them. Can we identify the situations in which our product will be used? If we have information about these situations, can we anticipate the impact of new features? And if we have an idea about the impact, can we also define potential risks that we need to address? To be a good tester, we need to empathize with our target groups and understand their wants and needs (which are often referred to as "latent needs" in marketing), as well as the things they don't want to happen (risks). This requires a delicate balancing act. 

The "beholder" in this definition refers to our customers. We need to understand their expectations and define those expectations in terms of a generic level of quality that we need to maintain. 

"Value" in this context refers not only to the new features we are delivering, but also to the expectations customers have for the product as a whole. While we may be excited about new functionality and features, we cannot forget about the overall quality of the product or system. If we cannot maintain a certain level of quality, our customers will reject our products and turn to our competitors. 

Overall, quality is a complex and multifaceted concept that requires us to think deeply about the needs and expectations of our customers, and to constantly strive to meet or exceed those expectations. 

Sahil: According to you, what are the key metrics that are most effective in an agile environment? 

Ard: Metrics derived from customer usage are the most critical indicators of success. We need to track our performance against our competitors and assess the success of new features. It's advisable to start small by conducting A/B testing to see how users respond to changes. Additionally, we must pay attention to feedback from our customers regarding what they dislike about our product or service. This feedback could be related to bugs, or it could be related to a decline in service quality, such as decreased performance or stability issues. 

Sahil: Can you please share some insights on Agile quality strategies? 

Ard: When considering new features for your backlog, it's essential to take into account the overall quality and expectation levels. There must be a balance between evaluating the quality of the new features (by checking whether they meet the acceptance criteria) and verifying or even falsifying the software (by exploring the product based on hypotheses about potential issues and finding evidence to support or reject those hypotheses). 

Your quality strategy should focus on finding a balance between three critical attributes: the new feature itself, the expected level of quality, and the potential risks that could threaten the new and expected quality levels. To ensure every potentially shippable software meets these three attributes, you must strike a delicate balance between them. 

Sahil: What are some of the key challenges for a leader in quality and test today? 

Ard: One of the key challenges faced by a leader is managing the three critical attributes of quality, new features, and risks. A leader must define a process for establishing and maintaining the expected quality levels, involving stakeholders, the product owner, and different scrum teams in the discussion. Additionally, the team must assess risks, and risk storming can be applied while discussing new features to ensure that the risks are leveled and balanced with the defined quality levels. 

Risk assessment is not a one-time activity but a dynamic one that involves maintaining a risk log with risk measures written down and assigned to specific individuals. It's crucial to evaluate the risk log frequently to ensure that the risks listed are still relevant and applicable. If necessary, adjustments or redefinitions of risks and measures must be made. 

Sahil: What makes a good test case? 

Ard: A good test case should be written as clearly and effectively as possible so that people who can be asked to execute it can understand it. It can be used as a means of communication within the team and with stakeholders to ensure that the testing scope is appropriate. Additionally, it can be used to challenge developers and check if the testers' thought process aligns with the developers. If there are any differences in thinking, it can lead to quality improvements. Therefore, testers should view a test case as an assignment that they need to fulfill. The focus should be on spending less time writing test cases and more time exploring the software. 

Sahil: How to use ML/AI to improve Test Automation? 

Ard: Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence (ML/AI) is simply the latest tool to become available, with significantly greater computational power than its predecessors. However, it is still a creation of humans and therefore prone to failure. Furthermore, we cannot be entirely certain that it will produce the desired outcome. In his book, "The Glass Cage", Nicholas Carr asserts that if we rely too heavily on automated tools, we become overly dependent on them. He argues that "mastery before automation" should be our guiding principle. We must understand what we are doing with a tool and what we are asking of it in order to assess the outcomes or actions it produces. This principle should be applied when using ML or AI for test automation. We must first define the results we want to achieve and then determine how a tool can assist us in reaching that goal. 

Sahil: What would be the best way to stay connected with you? 

Ard: You can find me on LinkedIn where I use the title of “qualisopher’ and probably if you read the answers above, you know why. I am always in for a good discussion, and I warn you, I can be a blunt Dutchman while asking questions or giving you something to think about. But besides that, I am a nice person, always in for an interesting conversation and some fun.  

 

When it comes to strengthening the business process, quality assurance reinforces the development process to ensure final outputs are reliable and scalable. More importantly, quality assurance serves as a platform to involve advanced development tactics like agile, DevOps, DevSecOps, or anything that is vital to sustainable production.  

From bringing the community together to practicing the latest testing techniques and frameworks, we at BugRaptors never miss any detail that could help generate value to the world. 

For more such interesting updates on quality assurance, stay connected with us by subscribing to our blog.  

In case, you need any expert advice, suggestions, or professional testing assistance, feel free to drop your queries at info@bugraptors.com  

author

Sahil Verma

Sahil Verma is a seasoned expert working as the Lead Software Engineer at BugRaptors. Since he has been associated with the QA industry for more than 10 years, he has a strong belief that, “‘Quality in any software is like grace to its existence.” More importantly, Sahil is a highly dynamic professional and more competent leader who understands every aspect of creating and executing business-productive software technology.

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