Leveraging the Wisdom of the Crowd: An Interview with Mukesh Sharma and Rajini Padmanaban


Mukesh Sharma and Rajini Padmanaban of QA InfoTech sit down to talk about their upcoming book, Leveraging the Wisdom of the Crowd in Software Testing. In this interview, Mukesh and Rajini also talk about the benefits and future of crowdsource testing.

Mukesh Sharma and Rajini Padmanaban of QA InfoTech sit down to talk about their upcoming book, Leveraging the Wisdom of the Crowd in Software Testing. In this interview, Mukesh and Rajini also talk about the benefits and future of crowdsource testing.


Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: Today we have Mukesh Sharma and Rajini Padmanaban and they are going to be speaking to us today about their new book “Leveraging the Wisdom of the Crowd in Software Testing.” Thank you so much for joining us today guys.

Mukesh Sharma: Thank you.

Rajini Padmanaban: Thanks Cameron.

Cameron: All right, to get things started can you tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Mukesh: Sure, I am Mukesh Sharma. I am the founder and CEO of QA InfoTech an independent quality assurance and testing company that I founded in 2003 with the intent of to widen impartial, unbiased and independent testing services.

Rajini: Hi everyone, this is Rajini. I’m based out of Bangalore, India and I’m a senior director of testing engagements at QA InfoTech.

Cameron: All right, let’s start talking about your book here. What led you to both of you writing this book?

Mukesh: Well our practical experience and knowledge of crowdsource testing and lack of any good book on this subject encouraged us to write this book and the goal is to be able to share our knowledge with the community at large. Crowdsource testing is very near and dear to us, in fact we’ve been advocating this over the last seven to eight years including presentations and tutorials that we’ve done even for STAR conferences. We’ve been leveraging crowdsource testing in-house on a number of projects that needed to be tested on multiple smart devices. We’ve also built a portal called BugMoney.com that helps us in connecting with the external users or crowdsource testers to test for our clients’ products.

Cameron: Okay and you said at the beginning that there’s not a whole lot of books, good quality books, on this subject and I have to agree with you on that because there’s not a lot of knowledge even what crowdsource testing actually is. In common terms, can you describe what crowdsource testing is?

Rajini: Sure. If I were to put it in very simple terms it’s nothing but bringing in the community at large to test for your product and application. When I say test I’m not necessarily talking about testers. Ideally you don’t want testers coming in to evaluate your product, you really want people like end users, domain experts, or potentially the person could be a tester too. From our experience we see there’s a lot more value in bringing in an end user or a domain expert compared to that of a tester in testing of your product.

Also, if you see crowdsource testing can really be done with internal employees in your own organization or you could bring in the external crowd. It’s a phenomenon where you can really apply it across companies of different sizes, across companies of different technologies, you could be a services company, you could be a product company. It’s really a very versatile technique to bring in to evaluate your product. And one main thing to keep in mind is money is not what always motivates the crowd. The crowd could really be coming in to test your product based on their association with your brand, the fact that they’re going to transparently look at your product before it hits the market. There could be multiple factors that really motivate the crowd, but in very simple terms it’s nothing but bringing in the community to evaluate your product and provide feedback.

Cameron: All right, fantastic. That’s a great definition. Now what makes this book worth reading and who really is the target audience?

Rajini: Sure, I’ll probably take this one. As Mukesh rightly said in one of his, in his first response, as of today we don’t really have a good quality book on crowdsource testing. Also speaking there’s a lot of ambiguity still in the industrial community on what crowdsource testing is, as you rightly said you had that question to define crowdsource testing.

There’s one belief that it’s nothing but working with the company who in turn brings in the crowd to test your product, so that’s one form of it. That is also crowdsource testing but there’s several other forms as I just mentioned, it could be the internal crowd, it could be the external crowd, it could be crowd that comes in on beta testing assignments, bug bashes, field testing. There’s so much more to it. There’s a lot of step-by-step approach that you can really follow and implement in crowdsource testing.

That’s what we really wanted to bring in this book, we wanted to really start talking about what crowdsource testing is and the flow of chapters help a person really implement crowdsource testing, talk about the limitations, challenges, solutions so really give an end-to-end perspective of the topic to the reader. Someone who comes in who wants to understand how can I build a career in crowdsource testing, what are the trends, what does the future look like? Really give the reader a very well-rounded and full knowledge and that’s what we’ve really tried to address in this particular book.

We’ve talked about several case studies, we’ve talked about several examples from QA InfoTech itself. We’ve also talked about a lot of examples from Microsoft for instance. Here I should say the testing director of Microsoft Skype division, a gentleman by name Ross Smith he’s been a significant support for us, significant source of encouragement for us to write this book and he’s shared a lot of examples from Microsoft.

In terms of target audience if you see this book really is a good fit for testing groups that are building a crowdsource testing effort, any individual who is working on this effort, for the community at large anyone who wants to understand what it is and how to implement the book really is a good fit for several of them out there.

As Mukesh again said I think when we researched initially on this topic as of today there’s literally one or two books on this topic. There was one on Barnes & Noble that we saw and the lady herself was mentioning that more than really a book this is just a collection of online material so with all of this we said ‘this will be a great book to release and this will be a great year to get it out in the market as well.’

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