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Ask the Expert: Ryan Letley, Relayware Test Engineer

Embrace automation with enthusiasm, but don’t rely on it solely."

Relayware Partner Relationship Management

Ask the Expert: Ryan Letley, Relayware Test Engineer

On Testing Relayware's PRM Software

Question: What is your role in testing?

Letley: For me to be able to achieve effectiveness within my test role, I need to set time aside to learn the disciplines applicable to testing. This enables me to implement effective test plans, which supports both our internal processes as well as our customers.

A few examples of my work include:

  • Execution of various test types to improve the maturity of the Relayware product (functional, static analysis, security, positive and negative, integration, performance, regression, etc. – if I listed everything, this list would be incredibly long, as we aim to be very thorough in our testing).
  • Reflecting on our test processes, so that I suggest and implement strong improvements.
  • Exploratory testing of the Relayware product.
  • Reviewing the effectiveness of Relayware tools within our test toolbox and keeping them sharp.

Question: What was your experience before joining Relayware?

Letley: I have a multi-disciplinary background. I had to learn to swim early in my career, as I did not have the luxury of entering formal full-time tertiary education straight after school. I really appreciate a poem by William Ernest Henley as it calls out that we are all directly responsible for our direction in life. The path we tread and the experiences we glean have a direct correlation to the decisions we made in both the good and bad times.

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeoning’s of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll.

I am the master of my fate.

I am the captain of my soul.

-- William Ernest Henley

For approximately the first twelve years of my career I was actively involved in various levels of FMCG Management (starting at the bottom and working my way up to partner level). In 2004, I decided that I wanted a career change, so I packed my retail role in and started studying IT. I studied part time while working and have filled various infrastructure and test roles during the period since 2004. I find that experiences don’t necessarily equate to how long someone has performed a task, as someone can work in the same role for an extended period, but have very limited experience.

I really like a quote by Nelson Mandela -- “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

It’s the undocumented experiences gleaned from climbing the hills that’s more important to me, rather than solely relying on institutional knowledge. Remember that some experience cannot be learned from a textbook.

Question: Why is testing important in software development?

Letley: In software development there are always bugs. They vary in risk between very minor to catastrophic. These are not purposefully made and may be caused by anything from incorrect assumptions to gaps in knowledge that exposes a weakness. Software testing identifies the areas of weakness that came about in the development phases, so that the end product that the customer receives satisfies their requirements, requires low maintenance costs and performs well.

After all, each and every organisation needs to concentrate on their core functions to remain successful. Having software testing actively involved within a SDLC process will therefore assist in developing a product which an organisation can absolutely rely on within their operational environment, so that they are not distracted from their goals and can achieve their potential.

Question: What are testing best practices for software like Relayware?

Letley: Open and honest reflective practice is at the top of the list. Taking the time out to critically review where we are and where we want to be is so important in maintaining an effective product offering.

Secondly, the organisation as a whole is responsible for the overall quality of the product and not just the test team. It’s therefore very important for everyone to understand that the test team evaluates the products against a set of requirements, but every line of code, demo or conversation can make the customer experience better or worse.

The following list includes only some of the testing best practices for software like Relayware:

  • Include testers at the very beginning of a process, as well as throughout the entire development processes. This way feedback will be inclusive, which will assist in making effective decisions.
  • Embrace automation with enthusiasm, but don’t rely on it solely.
  • Create a culture of creativity where all colleagues (not just test engineers) consider enhancement methods. This may even be time set aside each week to research potential improvements by colleagues.
  • Don’t be restricted in your thinking. Embrace “blue sky” thinking.
  • Shuffle the roles within test teams so that cross skilling can occur, and the skills benchmark can be raised.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and when you do, learn from them.
  • And last but not least. It is incredibly important for all teams (including testers), to engage with the customer effectively.