As the world is quickly progressing on digital transformation initiatives, most industries have recognized the need for Quality Assurance Solutions. Especially, the introduction of advanced testing concepts like Automation, Agile, DevOps, and QAOps have all transformed the world of software and application development.
Since we as an organization have always emphasized the idea of networking and communicating with people, this time, our in-house expert and VP, Operations & Delivery, Kanika Vatsyayan, interviewed Maaret Pyhäjärvi, Principal Test Engineer at Vaisala.
Maaret is a results-oriented software development professional with a massive experience of over 25 years. With a focus on testing, she has all the skills to acquire relevant on-time information about the product. Moreover, her experience with multiple contexts allows her to work side by side with developers in product development context, complementing the team's available skills with business, value and system. Besides, it even helps her to generate oriented views and putting together test automation and exploration in a great mix.
Also, she is working side by side with business analysts on focused acceptance testing and guiding contractors on making acceptable deliveries. Moreover, she has taken charge of organizing and delivering testing in agile and traditional lifecycle models which comes from her strong theoretical background that contains research and teaching work in the software testing area.
At present, she is open for more consulting / training opportunities as a self-employed software specialist whenever her calendar allows. On top of that, she has ISEB certificates in software testing, both Foundation and Practitioner, and is actively involved with ISTQB certification working parties, representing Finland for Foundation and Expert levels.
During her interview with Kanika Vatsyayan, she shared her entire journey of becoming a software tester while highlighting everything from the industry that has surprised her. Also, she shared some quick insights on selecting the right tool for automation testing while talking about upcoming conferences where she is likely to speak.
Without taking more of your time, let us quickly jump into the conversation to explore more in detail.
Kanika Vatsyayan: When did you decide to be a software tester?
Maaret Pyhäjärvi: I was hired to be one in Oct 1997, but that wasn’t when I decided on this. Back then, I just went along with what someone asked me to do, as saying yes is easier than saying no. 1998 I wanted to quit testing because the trend of “testing is not valued” got to me and experimenting with programming lead me to realize that both programming and testing share the experience of not being valued. The best way to deal with that is not to leave, but to become good. And that is when I decided to be a software tester.
Kanika Vatsyayan: What makes you feel inspired and allows you to be the best version of yourself?
Maaret Pyhäjärvi: Learning and people. Or better yet, learning with people. Nothing like a good conversation making a difference to the work we are doing right now. Or the ladder effect when someone suggests something, someone else offers a different view and we end up generating ideas that neither would come by alone.
All of my best insights are responses to other people.
Kanika Vatsyayan: What is something about your industry that has surprised you?
Maaret Pyhäjärvi: I work currently with weather. In layman terms, I think we are making glorified thermometers. Moving from a layman to understanding some of this business has completely surprised me. I had no idea how intricate the domain is, how many subdomains with specialized solutions there are and I have thoroughly enjoyed learning how weather conditions impact pretty much all aspects of human life. The science of how we know what we now know about weather is absolutely fascinating.
But that is probably not the industry you meant - you meant the software and software testing industries. Perhaps it is fair for me to say that I was surprised how much the software is not about the software but interesting human problems where software can be of service. It’s not about us sitting in front of computer coding or testing, but about us packaging something of value in a reusable format. The sense of purpose with work we do in software testing is something I really did not foresee.
With testing I’m also continuously surprised with the failure modes - how many ways are there to make mistakes and end up with software that does not do something we expect from it, be it functionality we promised or lack of functionality that could be used for harm.
Kanika Vatsyayan: What next stage can we expect for automation this year?
Maaret Pyhäjärvi: I believe the future is already here, that is it just not equally divided. This phrase comes from a science fiction book, but is particularly true in our efforts to be the best version of the software industry we want to be.
In some teams I work with, I expect that we will stop planning and start doing automation this year. Writing strategies about importance does not do the important work of testing. Choosing an interface and a driver, and implementing a single test is doing some of the work of testing.
In some teams I work with, I expect we integrate more useful ways of testing into good baseline we have already. I expect us to move from automated tests on every commit and PR to business readable executable specifications, start including model-based testing especially in the perspective of reliability, and consider applying AI on analyzing our exploratory testing notes to generate insights on our focus and omissions.
In general, I expect we learn to do automation that does testing beyond regression. There is too much of automating bad tests into bad automation, and not enough understanding of the purpose of the system we are creating by automating. We spend too much time arguing if automation is useful (it is, period.) and not enough time to figure out how we can improve usefulness to the next level.
Kanika Vatsyayan: Can you share some tips about how to choose a tool/framework for automated testing?
Maaret Pyhäjärvi: I choose tools based on the whole team sharing the tool. Avoid creating corners with tools that are just for the testers. Primarily that means working with tools that are from the programming language ecosystem the application is being built on. That usually means adding particular programming skills with people specializing in testing, and improving collaboration so that ideas of what we miss are effectively integrated in our safety net of automation.
Always assess the community of a tool/framework. Closed communities may have paid people responding to questions, but less people overall. Open communities with active people blogging about their solutions are invaluable.
Kanika Vatsyayan: Are you speaking at any upcoming testing conference?
Maaret Pyhäjärvi: A few. I have been on a break from conference travel on a promise I made with family since 2020, but conferences started traveling to my living room due to changes in the environment. I did over 30 talks in 2021, and have something similar lined up for this year.
Kanika Vatsyayan: Where can our readers connect with you online?
Maaret Pyhäjärvi: I blog at https://visible-quality.blogspot.fi.
I am making public notes of my ideas on twitter at https://twitter.com/maaretp and write occasional posts on LinkedIn, where I welcome people to connect with me in the professional network.
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