For this 7th interview, we are pleased to welcome Daniel Knott from Germany. Daniel has a very rich experience as you will see. Enjoy!
Who are you, what are you doing, where are you working?
Hi, my name is Daniel Knott and I am a passionate software tester since 2008 and a mobile product manager since summer 2018. In my software testing career, I worked for companies from different industries such as IBM, Accenture, XING and AOE. In different agile projects I gained strong knowledge in different areas of software testing e.g. mobile, search and recommendation technologies, web and desktop applications.
In these projects I was always responsible for the whole test management, manual and automated testing using technologies/ software such as Robotium, Espresso, Keep It Functional (KIF), Calabash, Cucumber, Capybara, Selenium 2 and Java. Furthermore, I provided internal mobile app testing trainings for my company in order to educate my colleagues (+20) to become a great mobile tester.
Since 2011, I am the blogger of this blog and publish posts about software testing, mobile testing and any other kind of interesting topics around software development. If I find the time, I am also a speaker at testing conferences and quality assurance articles. An overview of my publications can be found here.
In 2014, I published my first book about mobile testing. The title of the book is “Hands-On Mobile App Testing” and can be purchased on http://www.handsonmobileapptesting.com/. In the beginning of 2016, Daniel released a new eBook called “Smartwatch App Testing” and is published at https://leanpub.com/smartwatchapptesting.
In 2018, I got the chance to change my field of interest and to become a mobile product manager at XING. Currently, I am working on all XING related products for the Microsoft ecosystem.
Your current role is ‘Product Manager for XING.com Microsoft UWP 10 app’: could you describe in a few lines what it is about?
Currently, the team that I am working with is responsible for the development of our native XING app for all Windows 10 devices. We are developing the app as Universal Windows Platform app. This means that the app must be able to handle all the different environments from small to big screen from stationary to mobile devices. In my role as product manager I am responsible to plan upcoming development activities with help of OKRs. I write the epics, user stories including acceptance criteria. I am responsible for the whole stakeholder management including external customer requests and feedbacks.
When I am not thinking about features, I still try to test often during the development cycle to get an impression of the current product quality and to support my team members to do their best job possible.
How would you define your ‘relationship’ between your current position and testing?
In my current role as product manager I work very close with the software tester in team. We are working more like buddies or shadow workers. We pair a lot about user stories, what are the acceptance criteria, what are things that he wants to test and what are things that I have missed during the planning phase. Whenever, I am not in the office being on vacation or sick leave, the tester on the team is taking over my role. He is replacing me in important meetings, is able to present current state of the product to internal stakeholders and is usually the first contact person if I am not there. When I was a tester I was working in the same way and I think this is really important to work like that.
You also previously worked in testing-related roles ; Could you quickly describe those different roles?
Sure, before I switched over into the product management role, I was a tester for almost 10 years. I started with software testing during my university studies and felt in love with it. I really liked to dig deep into the requirements of the product and to find possible problems. End of 2010 I got in touch with mobile testing. Back then mobile testing was even more fun. There was almost no information available online how to test apps and what tools are on the market to support my testing activities. Therefore, I started my blog www.adventuresinqa.com to share my experience with mobile testing over the time and to help others finding solutions much fasters. In my last role as a tester I worked as Lead Test Engineer Mobile for XING. I was helping the 20 mobile testers in the company to become better mobile testers in providing trainings and to coach them on daily issues. Furthermore, I was part of the mobile releases team taking care of the weekly app releases establishing release processes and the frameworks we are using.
Amongst those testing roles, which one did you prefer? Could you also give us a few reasons why?
I really enjoyed the time back in 2010/ 2011 when mobile testing was new and there was nothing documented. I was lucky to get the freedom from XING to explore and learn new things. My personal learning curve was insane, I never learned so many new things in such a short timeframe.
What was your first role which was not solely focused on the testing activity?
After graduating university, I thought I must become a developer. With my computer science degree, it was the obvious move, but I was wrong. I quit my first job as developer after 3 or 4 months and became software tester because I really missed this digging deep in requirements, asking questions during discovery and planning phase and then in the end test a product to provide information about the current quality state. And I really liked the mix of automation, to still be able to write some code.
Why did you take that curve and how did you feel about ‘leaving’ a testing-focused role?
The change to product was nothing that came over night. In 2015 I was interim product manager for 6 months at XING and I somehow enjoyed being in this role. In beginning of 2018 I had the feeling I need a new 2011 with lots of learning and new challenges and since I worked always really close with product managers I though this might the next right step. In mid of 2018 I got the chance to change internally I so far, I really like it 😊. However, I am still a tester by heart. I do lots of testing in my daily life as product manager, not only in review state. I still take a look at PRs to see what is going on in the code. The only thing that I am not doing at the moment is writing code, but who knows what comes next in my role as product manager 😊.
Would you recommend to try this different point of view in a career?
Absolutely! So far it gave me a different look at things. The knowledge I gained as tester is really really helpful and the knowledge about the tech-stack of our product is important to have too (not many product managers have this perspective).
What challenges do you think the test teams at Xing.com face within the software product team? Do you help overcoming them?
The massive growth over the last years. XING has grown a lot which is awesome. We have more than 50 testers in the company, some of them need to test for Android, iOS and web. This is a challenging task to do in a 2-week sprint. Currently the testers are grouping into smaller communities of practices to focus more on their specific areas. This will help them to exchange on deeper level and support each other much faster.
How would you describe your work to a 6-year-old?
The work as product or tester 😊 ? In my role as product manager I make sure that the ice cream (our product) has an awesome taste, is good looking from a color point of view and has the right temperature for eating it. The role as a tester I would say: I eat all day ice cream and see if it tastes good, has a nice color, the right temperature and checking for signs that says: « don’t eat too much ice cream, otherwise you will get stomach issues » and sure I have to test this 😉
Looking back, and if you were to start again as a tester, what advice would you give?
Find other testers and exchange on the current working topics. My first years as a tester I felt lonely in some way. I was the only tester on the product (back in university) and couldn’t share ideas. After attending my first testing conference in 2011 and going to testing meetups I felt coming home. Go out and make new friends and learn from them. Don’t be shy in asking questions. Questions are awesome. Don’t take it personal if bugs will not be fixed.
If you were to recruit a tester, what would you look for in a candidate for this role?
No matter if we are looking for junior or senior tester, for me personally clear communication is the most important skill. Testers must be able to describe open questions, problems in different ways to get the buying from various stakeholders.
I also want to know how people tackle problems. Is the candidate sitting alone in the dark for hours finding a solution might not be good? Raising problems early with peers is important.
I also check what the person is doing outside of testing. Only a healthy mind can tackle hard testing challenges. Sure, some testing knowledge is important, but these are things one can learn.
Tell us an anecdote of your life as a tester (good or bad time, incredibly hard bug to reproduce or analyze …)
During my time as mobile tester I drove my developer crazy sometimes 😊. I can’t remember the exact feature or year, but I guess it was around 2012 when we supported landscape mode on iOS. Well I had fun rotating the device multiple times and our circle loading indicator became an ellipses 😊.
Another bug I will never forget, when we did some experiments on web views inside the native parts. A developer tested something and by mistake he replace and committed the imprint of a big tech company with ours. I found this issue just by accident because I tapped on the imprint inside the settings while putting my phone on the desk, and then the wrong imprint showed up. And thing was, we just submitted a new version :D. So, we needed to fix fast and to upload a new version. Stressful but fun.
One of the challenges you have faced in testing a feature
Whenever, there were mobile hardware involved it got more challenging. First to get all the required hardware and to prepare the environment for it. We once had a bug in image uploading feature on a specific device with a specific OS version and it took us ages to find the bug 😊.
Do you have models, people inspiring you (testers or not)?
Barack Obama: I am not really into politics, but what this guy did over the last years was incredible. He is smart and intelligent and hard times to find the right solutions.
Jim Walmsley: Many of you might not know him, he is a pro ultra-trail runner currently ruling the trail running world. He shows me that the human body is able to do much more things that we can think of and that it requires hard work to reach what you want to reach.
How do you keep learning?
At the moment reading and watching talks is my main source of learning new things. On my daily job I like to talk to other product people and to learn from their experience.
Cite one or more tools that have become essential to you?
Slack :D, to keep up to date with my team inside XING (we are a complete remote team) and to keep up to date with the testing communities
What revolution should the testers be prepared for?
Machine learning. This will be fun testing. Machines will never replace testers!
Thanks Daniel for you time and for these very detailed answers!