Engaging the Crowd: Anjo Gaul on Managing Testers
Sean: Is there anything surprising that people realize when they start testing with us?
Anjo: If they’re new to software QA testing, people don’t always realize the amount of work that goes into it. It is a challenging and the learning curve can be steep. However, if you are willing to invest the time to learn and develop the skills, it can be a very profitable job. Software testing is also a job where you are continuously developing and honing your skills. As testers become more familiar with different software and various devices, they not only gain a better understanding for these pieces individually, but find other anti-patterns that exist across a spectrum of devices or software.
Mature testers are often pleasantly surprised how much interesting work we have for them.
Sean: You previously worked as a Community Representative at EA Games. Can you explain what aspects of this role you bring to your position here as the Community Manager?
Anjo: In my previous role, I worked managing a community of gamers, which is indeed a bit different than managing a group of testers. However, there are still some areas of overlap. People respond to incentives and take pride in their work; whether in gaming or software testing, it is important to recognize and reward human agency and creativity. And that’s what we’re working on now.
Sean: What specifically are you doing to achieve this?
Anjo: We are exploring new ways to invest in testers’ growth and education. We have reworked our testing academy, which is a teaching tool to educate our testers. We are working on ways to foster greater communication among testers. Our testers are incredibly diverse, so collaboration among them is beneficial for them and for our clients.
Sean: Why does diversity matter in testing?
Anjo: test IO’s testers come from all walks of life. From university students to retirees, we have testers on every continent except Antarctica. Many of them come from a tech background, but some are passionate about technology but come from different backgrounds. Having such a wide spectrum of testers means that our clients are having their product tested by an audience like one that would use their software. So you get a combination of “pattern matching” from technology pros and “man on the street” insight from end-users. And it reflects the real world better than any automated test could achieve.
Sean: Why do you find that crowdtesting appeals to such a wide spectrum of people?
Anjo: I think it’s the flexibility that attracts people. In my case, crowdtesting was a good way to re-enter the workforce after having taken some time off to raise my kids, and at test IO we love to work with parents — not just moms, thank you — in transition. For students or people early in their careers, one of the nice things about testing with us is that you’re building up experience that you can document and then talk about when you’re applying for jobs in the future.
Sean: For those who are considering becoming a software tester, is there anything they should know beforehand?
Anjo: A tester should not be scared to try out new technology; so tester’s curiosity will be his or her best asset. While coming with a knowledge of testing is helpful, we have a training program in place and we’re constantly improving that. Like anything else, if you have an aptitude for testing and you enjoy it, you’ll get better with it the more you do it..
Sean: For people interested in technology and IT; becoming a tester is a logical move. What are some of the less typical backgrounds?
Anjo: As I’ve mentioned, our diversity really is our strength. Some of our best testers come to us after working in a different field. One of our testers formerly worked with the German Railway (Deutsche Bahn) for twelve years. Another had a career in journalism but has since made the transition to working in software testing almost exclusively. But this makes sense when you think about it. Like people who work for the railway, great testers want to make sure things work correctly every time; and like journalists, great testers question what they’ve been told and look beneath the surface to find the truth.