The Survival Guide for Testers and Test Managers: An Interview with Bart Knaack


In this interview, Bart Knaack, a test advisor at Professional Testing, discusses his upcoming keynote, titled "The Survival Guide for Testers and Test Managers." He explains what has changed in the testing field, the impact of agile, and the responsibility of quality.

Josiah Renaudin: Today I’m joined by Bart Knaack, a test advisor at Professional Testing and keynote speaker at our upcoming STARWEST conference. His presentation is titled “The Survival Guide for Testers and Test Managers.” Bart, thank you very much for joining us.

First, could you tell us about your experience in the industry?

Bart Knaack: I have been in IT for twenty-one years now (not including my years as a student in computer sciences), of which about nineteen have been in testing and test automation. In this timeframe, I have worked in many different branches, including telecom, finance, and aviation.

Josiah Renaudin: Since you first entered the testing field, how much have the roles and responsibilities of testers evolved?

Bart Knaack: Testing has had many changes, including the change to structured testing, more focus on test automation, and towards testing in agile environments.

Josiah Renaudin: Has the fact that agile’s lessened the strict separation of developer and tester roles made it easier to be a tester, or harder?

Bart Knaack: Due to agile, we seem to get back into the “Why do we need testing?” discussion on the one hand—in waterfall we had finally found a position within a project—but also a “Quality is the responsibility of the entire team” mentality, on the other hand. So there is a shift, which does not necessarily make it harder or easier, but different.

Josiah Renaudin: Who else on modern teams is responsible for quality, other than testers?

Bart Knaack: The theoretical answer should be the entire team—however, in a lot of teams, we still see a small number of people focus on quality. And yet, the demos do cater for an excellent moment of reflection on quality, and product owners now have a better view on the quality to be delivered.

ScrumMasters can aid in this as well, but it depends per company to what extent they are involved.

Josiah Renaudin: Of the emerging technologies—continuous integration, mobile, the Internet of Things, and cloud—which do you feel has most drastically changed testing?

Bart Knaack: They all have their impact. I guess it depends on the branch you work in when deciding what impacts you the most. At this moment, I would expect mobile to be the biggest influence, but in the near future, I guess the Internet of Things will be more impactful. Yet, at this moment, that is still in its infancy.

Josiah Renaudin: What are three of the most important new skills that testers need to adopt to properly test mobile apps in the cloud?

Bart Knaack: To recognize the opportunities and possibilities, understand what the cloud has to offer, and know what threads the cloud puts upon us.

Josiah Renaudin: Does a tester need to grow and evolve in order to not only become better-rounded, but also remain relevant in our industry? Will a tester become obsolete if he or she doesn’t adapt?

Bart Knaack: Come and listen to my keynote. I am not going to give it all away yet, but I think growth and evolution are a necessity, whatever role you are in.

Josiah Renaudin: More than anything, what message do you most want to leave your audience with after the keynote?

Bart Knaack: Embrace the future and keep an open mind towards changes that will come upon us.

Bart KnaackTest advisor at Professional Testing, Bart Knaack has more than twenty years of experience in testing and test management. Bart has contributed to testing projects and processes in roles of test manager, test data management team lead, and process improvement agent. He has coached testers, built up test teams, and developed processes in test, test support, and overall quality management and improvement. Bart is a frequent speaker at conferences, universities, and colleges. In 2009 Bart and James Lyndsay co-founded the TestLab, an exciting part of today’s STAR conferences.

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