I understand why dog food companies are not run by dogs. Dogs can’t talk. They are bad at math. They are liable to chase squirrels during meetings. They eat the paperwork. Dog food companies can’t ask a dog to design the recipes. The people running them just have to gaze into those puppy eyes and guess what they will settle for.
But I have, throughout my career, not understood why companies making software for testers don’t put serious testers in charge of designing it. I have many colleagues with opinions about what they need. No one seems to be listening.
Then, Grigory Melnik called. He’s the Chief Product Officer at Tricentis.
I know Grig from years ago when he gave a presentation at the Workshop on Training Software Testers. It’s not hyperbolic to say I savaged his presentation. I think I told him that I didn’t recognize that he was even talking about testing. (When I critique people in that way, it’s because that’s how I want to be critiqued. I’m good at what I do and I want to be held to the highest standards. Still, the normal reaction is for speakers to call me a bully, get their friends to call me a bully on Twitter, or otherwise complain that I’m disrupting their talk.)
Grig’s actual reaction shocked me. He showed up at the same conference, the following year, with a talk that knocked my socks off. It expanded my imagination about what could be done in testing research. I’ve been telling this story about him ever since.
What Grig called me about, recently, is a little part-time gig: imagining the future of test tools. They are calling me a Technical Fellow, which is impressive but rather vague. The actual role is to work out the details of real-life tools that ought to exist to support context-driven testers, then help that vision survive the inevitable compromises that come with running a business that sells software.
So, I’m still running my consultancy and doing my online training. I’m still available (except I can’t consult for competing test tool companies while I’m doing this). Maybe this will develop into more of a full time thing or maybe it will end. I’m not always an easy guy to work with. We’ll see.
What I can promise you is that they would have to pay me a lot more money if they want me to praise tools that I don’t believe in. I value my reputation for irritable honesty. I’m not saying I would never sell out, but geez, they would be crazy to pay me that much. The economical route for Tricentis is to actually listen to me and build great tools for serious testers.
Chris Kenst says
Clarification regarding the workshop where you met Grig those few years, was it WTST / Workshop on Teach Software Testing? https://lawst.com/wtst/
[James’ Reply: Yep.]
Then I am excited as well, and that’s even though I switched to BA (which, incidentally, tends to be session-based, context-driven investigating – only the object has changed to people).
Good luck, and please think on sharing the experiences and ideas you’ll meet along the way (the ones you’ll be legally allowed to), for the benefit of us, lurking in the internets, searching for truths.
Eric Linnert says
TIL about Tricentis… interested to hear how it goes!
Nate Custer says
As someone who has admired you for a long time and been working closely with Tricentis for the past couple of years I am slightly surprised and very excited to see the outcomes of this collaboration. I hope you’ll get to share some specifics about the direction of products going forward or the feedback you’re providing.
[James’s Reply: If you want an inside track, Nate, I would be pretty eager to have you on the customer advisory board. We need critics and I believe you would make a productive one.]
Bartosz Ciesielczyk says
And… How is it going?
[James’ Reply: If I say something negative, you’ll believe me. If I say something positive, you’ll think I’ve been taken over by the corporate bodysnatchers…
But, I will say it anyway.
I love working for Tricentis. Although I am only half-time and an outside consultant, I’m treated with respect. I’m working with a bunch of smart, experienced, opinionated, emotionally resilient people. I’m lucky to have this gig, because I know very well that most bold attempts to do outlandish things, most of the time, fall to pieces. Maybe this will, too, but I’m feeling productive right now.]
Denice Larson says
I’m wondering how this collaboration is going? If it’s still ongoing.
I’ve been testing for about 7.5 years now and the company I work for has swapped over to Three Tricentis products. Two that I love. One that I loathe with a passion.
[James’ Reply: Unfortunately, the very fact I am involved with Tricentis (yes, I still am) prevents me from speaking much about it. And if I did you would not fully trust what I would say, for the same reasons you shouldn’t trust what anyone working for a tech company says publicly about that company. However, there is a project, ongoing, within Tricentis, that is based on my vision. For now I am not at liberty to say more. I have also pitched several ideas that could in the future become actual products.]