Testing Community of Practice (CoP) Experience Report #1

I published an audio experience report about running my first Testing Community of Practice (CoP) at work. tl;dr it was a really good exercise that I intend to run regularly.

Here’s an imperfect transcript:

Hello everyone, Chris Kenst here, I wanted to talk about running my first community of practice.

So for a little context, I work for a company called Promenade group.

We have 4 verticals or businesses basically that we support. And so as a QA engineering manager, I have testers across two of those verticals.

So I have a tester across our vertical called BloomNation which helps florists sell flowers online, individual small businesses sell online.

And then we have a business of vertical called Swigg where I also have a tester.

So we have built out this team. Only two people hiring my third And so, as a part of a growing team, what I wanted to do was bring my testers together and just talk about the things that we’re doing. Because as we scale up, as we add a third tester in, perhaps a fourth one, each person kind of works in their own isolated business, tackling the challenges for that particular business.

And, so I really wanted to get this kind of cross collaboration system going.

So I thought a community of practice would be the right thing for it.

And frankly after I set up a calendar time, last Friday, I told my people about it, two weeks in advance, I asked to present something.

So they would present something and I would present something. I set an agenda for it and kind of got their feedback and nobody really knew what to think about it because they have never really done one. I have never really done one.

So we kind of all agreed to it and then on Friday we had it, I set up two hours on the calendar, and we use that whole two hours for just three people.

And so this is kind of how it went:

  • The first thing we did was I had each of my testers present, what they were working on.
  • So what have they worked on recently?
  • What challenges have, they had what things have gone well and what things happened?

And even only having two testers that I, of course, have one-on-ones with what happened, is having them discuss the things that they work about and the specific problems unique to the businesses that they support, it was actually really eye-opening even for me,

One of my testers works on our BloomNation business and that’s a pretty stable mature business. So she works on all these different things, spanning all these different features that don’t exist on our Swigg vertical. And so part of her discussion about what she’s working on is actually, educating the other tester about, hey, these are the unique things that we do over here.

And it’s like, no we don’t and then it was the vice versa.

It was the tester I have on our Swig vertical showing going like, oh listen, you know, we’re changing our checkout flow, we’re cleaning this up.

We’re integrating with this new partner that can help us do deliveries and so just having the two distinct teams talk about what they worked on it actually highlighted a whole lot of things that I have taken for granted because I have worked on Both platforms and so just kind of allowed a bit more common sharing.

It was also really impressive to see them, put together like a little presentation. Some with slides, some not with sides but it was really on point. Everyone was able to kind of talk to the things that like went.

Well, it was a little bit harder to kind of dig up dig deep and understand things that didn’t work well.

But I like the idea of at least getting I am thinking about hey what isn’t working well, because, you know, are these things that we need to fix within the verticals self, or are there, are there lessons that we can pick up and address just ourselves.

So like one of the things that we can do ourselves that kind of came out of this was, you know, we just need more documentation around some of the things that we test that are across both platforms. So that make sense. like we can create some, some Asks, and write a bunch of documentation, like, that’s something I can do.

And, so I think my feedback might my thoughts after going through it was clearly, it has value to do to have a small community of practice.

It would probably only run it every few weeks. Sorry every few months. Once a month would be too frequent. So probably every other month is good, there are clearly lessons and ideas to be shared.

One of my testers, I noticed is doing much deeper work because they’re focused on say an EPIC at a time, or my other testers doing much more broad things. So, they’re very different in terms of, you know, even within the same company on different teams, just very different kinds of work.

You know, one of my testers is more likely to look into New Relic logs for the things that she’s doing. And my other testers more likely to look into the third party logs. Because that makes sense, it’s just all kinds of very interesting things that I pull.

I came away with the other thing I noticed is that, of course I like to use zoom because it has better pictures better? It’s just better visual like you can see people better but it just doesn’t work when you only have 43 minutes and you have a two-hour meeting. So that was a take away from me.

Yeah, and so overall I think things worked really well. I hope to be able to run this again.

Do something similar where we talk about the things that worked well and the things that don’t and I think just as we grow community of practice and getting each other talking to one another, about the things that were working on and struggling with I think well, We will definitely have more benefits.

So, I will update you when I do my second one. Thank you.