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Recently I have been learning a lot about the mysteries of SEO.

puzzled illuminated

There I was minding my own business performing functional, regression and other testing on web sites and web applications; planning and implementing Scrum burn-downs and explaining what Agile was and why even as a philosophy being flexible helped.. suddenly I got a call from an acquaintance in the UK asking if I could figure out why a website they were developing wasn’t appearing in rankings for any of the big three search engines.

I have done some work on this before but since I followed tech news like the advent of Google Buzz (and related profiles) and the affects of Real Time and Web 2.0 on rankings, I felt I should at least update my core knowledge.

There is a wealth of information out there on the internet on different blogs and from the actual search engines themselves. I got to thinking as I planned my approach that I was basically going to perform testing on the website albeit a specific niche of backend design of the website. It was rather easy to create an extensive testplan with cases for each search engine.

In this particular case the site had been designed and implemented in Drupal. I have been a fan since my brother introduced me to it; his company First Contact uses this extensively and has created some amazing websites for their customers.

drupal_org

Drupal provides the user with an easy to use interface, modular design and comprehensive help via the forums etc on the website.

After planning and executing my tests I was able to report the problems, search for and offer fixes and spend some time over Remote Desktop and VOIP making the changes to the website.

One recommendation that was hard for my acquaintance to swallow was how much dynamic versus static content on your website can affect ranking. Implementing a structured approach to Social Media: blogging, Twitter via the website or connected to it can have a strong positive impact on how the big three Search Engines relate to your website’s page ranking.

We discussed this and taking a leaf from my experience in Agile-Scrum I recommended an iterative approach to planning and implementing this. Providing them with a plan or burn-down chart based on how much time they could commit to and what they realistically could do in each implementation cycle.

They are at the end of the iterations now, having tried various platforms and selected those they realistically can work with. Their ranking reflects the changes as does their website.

I have a happy “customer” and de facto an extra string to my professional bow.

If you have any questions about my approach to this do contact me. Perhaps I can help you too.

Technorati Tags: Agile / Scrum,,,,

Anyone who has worked in hi-tech can tell you war-stories of how in the olden days those QA folk would come out from the dungeon to have defect meetings with Dev. That was in good cases where meetings actually occurred or Defect Tracking was done using an actual Bug Tracking Tool.

Many of us have worked under the gun in a Waterfall lifecycle management environment where for a variety of reasons major defects cause a ping-pong effect where builds are failed by QA at an early testing stage and returned to Dev.

This syndrome has many effects including frustration in QA and Dev, failure to meet deadlines, failure to test deeper as QA repeatedly gets stuck failing a build early on in testing and others.

This week on LinkedIn I (virtually) met a great Project Management Consultant, Itay Foyerstein. He raised this question in one of LinkedIn’s groups and I decided to add my thoughts to the discussion as an experienced QA Manager.

You can see Itay’s question here: –

How does your organization reduce the number of "PingPongs" between SW dev / QA ?

There are a number of great responses from people who have obviously lived thru this kind of  event, all of which I recommend reading however, ego aside I have included my response below:

linkedin-pingpong

Those of you who have worked with me or simply discussed this sort of thing with me are aware that I am an advocate and practitioner of  Agile / Scrum (in fact I’m a Scrum Master) so it should be no surprise if I am a believer in people over process.

I was in a job interview a few months back where the interviewer asked me what was a skill a QA Manager should develop and I jokingly said that QA Managers are the closest thing to Hostage Negotiators. We have to negotiate schedules, provide risk assessments and often report on bugs whose severity may clash with release schedules, priorities and perceptions of Dev or Product as to the actual impact of the bug.

These discussions are often adversarial or simply stressed due to tight scheduling. So the most important thing is to ensure strong collaboration, communication and realistic expectations.

Of course that was just my in a nutshell answer. If you have a product or team(s) that require this sort of Test/ Quality management then let me know. I am quite happy for the work. (Comments or e-mail)

There are many different organizations, start-ups amongst them where the transfer of knowledge between teams or individual can be akin to pulling teeth; difficult, messy and painful.
The classic example in development is when the QA or Test team has to begin defining tests for the next release but has no clear idea beyond terminology on a Gantt or various emails what they have to test.
Getting documentation at this stage can be frustrating and even ultimately counterproductive in terms of the conflict or friction it raises between the person who has to produce the documentation (in our case specifications) and the person who needs the documentation to continue working and not become a bottleneck.
In SCRUM during the daily meeting this issue would be raised as an impediment to the testing progress and the Scrum Master would help the team in resolving this.
However as an experienced QA Manager I can state that this issue is a function of corporate culture. Normally this occurs where VP of R&D and or the CTO continues to make statements committing to full knowledge transfer but actually the real concept being maintained is that writing code comes first and if you are lucky we might get to writing spec down the line.
This truly demonstrates a Waterfall methodology regardless of the methodology that the organization claims to be using.
How do we resolve this? Perhaps this is something you just have to live with and realize that this is an organization that will never embrace Kanban, Lean, Kaizen, and Agile – SCRUM or any variant thereof without a true management commitment.
There are different personality types depending on which theory of psychology you adhere to; I’m a tools and techniques guy, I try to identify the problem and knowing it will recur find the correct tool or technique that allows everyone involved to keep a smile on their face and get the job done.
I encountered this kind of problem myself several times and it occurred to me that if the core of the problem is finding the time to write stuff down, then why make people write at all? The written medium is tiresome to create an often just as difficult to read and learn from. So why not use a different medium?
Ideally, you would introduce the use of Digital Audio or preferably Video recording and get the relevant knowledge owner to speak freely explaining the (in our example) spec. Diagrams, charts and slides could be added later making this “living document” or work in progress. (I re-heard this idea at the Israel Scrum Users Conference, earlier this month; many of us confirming that a good idea is something others thought of at the same time as you).
This is the easy part; there will still be a need for post-processing, review/ approval, document control and much larger storage/ backup than if these were simple textual documents.
Users would have to learn to be comfortable with being filmed, cameras would have to be readily available and seated on a stable platform. The video files would need some form of tagging which could be used for creating a searchable index in the Document control database but ultimately the ROI would be enormous in terms of reducing the friction and frustration in dealing with this impediment.