Product Owner of Test Automation

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2018 is another year of change for me. I packed everything I needed in 4 bags that fit my bike and on the morning of the 3rd of January started pedaling south.
Tom Waits – Whistle down the wind in my ears.

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Wind in my back, sun in my face. It felt as if something beckoned me, helping me forget what was left behind.

Car, house, job, security, city, comfort, relationship… everything was sacrificed. At least for now. In return I got freedom and a different kind of comfort. I can do whatever I want, enjoy what comes my way and seize all the wonderful opportunities that would otherwise make me think twice.

Since then, I’ve arrived in Munich, a bustling city. Met with QualityMinds, a wonderful company and rejoined with friends who showed to be more than true to the name.
Vera & Marcel have been absolute angels. Supporting me by opening up their home, workplace, baking birthday cake, being motivators and listening to my stories. Vera even found an ideal job for me.

Product Owner of Test Automation

A change in roles comes with an interesting set of insights. I had never been a Product Owner before, nor is my technical prowess in Test Automation of much note.

I do have a knack for connecting people, empowering people and strategising in function of change. Because of this, I’m sure I can add value over the coming months. In my years of being a tester in a SCRUM team, I figured out that the nature of the Product Owner role is hands-off, enabling and providing feedback. However, what I didn’t see before was the effort it takes in finding out how to balance the following:

  • What needs to be done to satisfy our stakeholders in the short term?
  • What can be done within the current constraints?
  • What does the team like to do?
  • What does the team need?
  • What can we do in function of the long term vision?

I feel a tension between now and later, us and them, needs and wants and I like the implications this has. It means my reporting and communication needs to be better. It means I need to listen as much as I talk. It means that I need to direct now to have others evolve later.

Personal introspection and (hopefully) progress, I love it.

For now, I visualise myself sitting at a table on which a massive boardgame is displayed. I’ve only just gotten to know the other players. This game has been going on for some time and I’m the new player. I see the cards I hold and plan for success whilst guessing for surprises that will sweep my feet from under me. I plan now to act later, slowly positioning allies, empower certain areas and planting ideas in the other player’s minds.
The path to victory lays before me, but so are the hazards and changes.

A good strategy goes a long way, but needs hard work, luck and support from others to succeed.

The Strategy

Phase 1:

  • Become a functional SCRUM team that adds value by means of either added confidence or fast feedback.
  • Build a stable and maintainable checking framework as a team.
  • Build a strong relationship with Stakeholders

Phase 2:

  • Coach and strengthen automation practices throughout the development life-cycle by example.
  • Support Testers through handy tools and automating the boring stuff.
  • Provide compelling data and reports to stakeholders who need to make decisions.

While a Strategy is rather deterministic for now, the tactics will certainly change over time. My first challenge is in splitting up the base tactics into workable tasks. Secondly, listening to the team on how they deal with this and how they would move forward.

I’m anxious to find out how things evolve from here.

 

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