It’s Wednesday, 1 PM, the Game of Thrones soundtrack is on in the background while the whole team’s gathering around the board, patiently waiting for their next assignment. As each team picks their weapon of choice (phone, it’s just a phone) for a new battle, the girls from the QA Team are revising the rules.
Now, what the hell is going on in here?
Well, as Eminem would say “In my shoes, just to see, what it’s like, to be me” (don’t worry, it’s not a rap contest), 16 people from COBE Tech put themselves in the QA’s shoes for a whole month; finding bugs, testing web and mobile applications, learning how to write reports. Besides two people (shame, shame, shame!), everyone took part in the challenge; Project managers, Account manager, HR, Marketing and even Developers. Yes, you’ve heard it right, developers. In case that “Developers and QA engineers don’t get along” nonsense truly exists at your office, maybe you should try this challenge — the results may surprise you.
The Monthly challenge was presented to us at the monthly COBE Camp. The idea was that every month, a different team brings out a cool challenge everyone could take part in and learn something new. The girls from the QA team — Dolores, Jelena and Nikolina — dared to go first. The main goal was to connect the whole team on an even higher level, teach us something and, let’s be honest, to have some fun. By playing a game, which this challenge really was, everyone could have felt and realized what it takes to be a tester, how demanding the job is and what kind of communication a QA and a Dev should develop (get it, develop 👉👈).
One of the prerequisites to take part in the challenge was to reserve one hour a week just for testing. Considering it’s an IT agency we’re talking about and a project is always due, expecting everyone would take part in the challenge would be crazy. Nice, but crazy. The response was really positive though: “We’ve expected 16 people, but we weren’t REALLY expecting 16 people”, briefly explained Dolores.
To make the game even more interesting, it had a Game of Thrones theme, because we’re all such huge nerds. I mean, fans of the show. Plus, the whole “war for the throne” vibe seemed appropriate. That’s why we even got these congratulation cards, for either winning or taking part in the game, that are not at all photoshopped.
We were split into eight randomly picked teams (even did the whole old-school “write your name on a paper and put it in a bowl” thing), trusting the process and believing the same people, that normally hang out, would not get picked.
I’m sure you can guess what happened. These are just a few examples of our randomly picked teams: Ines and Jurlina, the inseparable duo that even shares a desk; Marin and Vlado, best friends in real life; Danijela and Danijel, share the same name.
Oh well, at least we tried.
Sorry to disappoint you: we’re not talking about, yet another, rapper. This part is about our game.
It was thought-out as a board game, where for four weeks, four battles for four big houses took place — House Mosquito, House Stink Bug, House Cockroach and House Ladybug. People were split into eight teams and every team fought for the throne and even got their own sigil. Besides sigils, the office was full of props like flags, swords and crowns. Also, as we mentioned before, every time the “War Game” took place, the GOT soundtrack was on. It’s all about the details, right?
Okay, now to explain the whole game.
Each of these houses were taken over by bugs (read: soldiers) and with every battle the team with the most points took over a house. What determined who wins? Bug reports of course. The QA team paid attention to everything: prioritisation, steps, labels, but considering nobody taking part in the challenge hadn’t had any real experience in testing, they’ve made it more exploratory, wanting to see how we think.
Seeing a longtime iOS developer working on an Android was, at the very least, interesting.
The challenge included three types of contests:
1. The “War Game”
2. The Quiz
3. The Mini Challenge
The “War Game” (which is what we called the testing) was held every Wednesday for only 45 minutes, when we were assigned a mobile or a web app to test. What’s important to mention is that the apps we were testing weren’t COBE’s projects; they were randomly chosen. That way we got a chance to see how others create (and notice they should hire us before putting their products out on the market😅).
Although we all may have seemed like QA’s at the moment, the bug reports showed the “real us”— designers were reporting bugs mostly found on the design side of the app, Android devs were opening Android Studio while testing and the journalist uploaded more content to the reports than the rest.
Furthermore, every Monday, a short five minute quiz was held. The quiz included questions about marketing, real bugs (E.g. How many eggs does a ladybug lay?), but also about quality assurance in general. That way, we didn’t just get a chance to learn about QA in practice, but we also learned the theory behind it.
Another important thing to mention are the mini challenges. Every once in a while, the girls would post a question in our common Slack channel, which could earn bonus points for the quickest of teams. Oh how sneaky they were! From sending riddles (viva la Google 🎉) to asking us how many black chairs there are in the office (fun fact: the first correct guess was from Mladen, our iOS dev, who wasn’t even at the office that day). Anyways, you wouldn’t believe how competitive people got.
After four weeks of testing, for only 45 minutes a week, we came to a total of 444 bug reports. Can you even imagine?!
Results of the first testing were, as expected, silly. From making jokes and swearing to using wrong terms and reporting bugs that weren’t even bugs. Then, of course, came in the complaints: “Why didn’t you accept this report?? Why did I get just 1 point although I crashed the app?!”, were some of the questions, mostly asked by our HR, Jurlina, who, at one point, threatened to cut down the QA’s salaries. As a joke, of course (we hope). Altogether, there were 75 complaints — 69 of them made by Jurlina.
After the rules of reporting were explained to us one more time, shit got a lot more serious. Second week results were smashing! The reports got bigger, more detailed and looked, well, like actual reports. It got to the point where quality was kicking quantity’s ass. Not only following the steps in the reports, but also uploading screenshots, videos, saying “Thank you” at the end etc. In four weeks, we came, from total newbies, to the stage of teaching the girls something new.
Friday. 3PM. Everyone gathered around the TV nervously waiting for the game to start. Luka’s missing: “Where’s Luka?! We want to play!” Oh there he comes.
It’s the last battle, the last game and the last chance to win. A final quiz — this time a big one, including 35 questions. As if the number of the questions wasn’t giving us anxiety on its own, the girls decided to play with us even more and to form the answers like this:
Which part of a Bug Report had to be noted, otherwise we wouldn’t even check your report?
A) Lables B) Label C) Labels D) labels
On the other hand, the great thing about the quiz was that it allowed anyone to drastically change their position on the rang list, so e.g. Katarina and Luka, who, for three weeks straight, maintained the eighth place, with the help of this quiz rose all the way up to the seventh place.
Yes, dreams really do come true.
The quiz ended and the winners were more than obvious; Danijela and Danijel, the duo with the same name, a Product Owner and a Front-end dev, well deserved, took the first place. They were first on the rang list, almost from the start of the challenge and they took the first place in the last big quiz: “Of course it’s nice to win but honestly, we enjoyed the whole game more than the winning part”.
The second place went to Ines and Jurlina, who don’t have any experience in QA or developing (they graduated in journalism and economics) and who, after the first War game, ended up in the last place with only 25 points, so congrats to them! The third place went to Goran and Matija, both great Android devs. I guess testing on iOS platforms wasn’t that weird after all.
Going into the challenge, the girls were nervous presenting the idea, worried not enough people would have time to take part in the challenge. Oh how wrong they were. We didn’t just get a chance to learn about all the work they do, but we actually got a chance to, on a weekly basis, get away from all the stress work brings along and just relax, get creative and have some fun.
1. The communication between the teams was already pretty awesome but it got even awesomer.
2. Jelena, a student and a QA Intern, got to be a boss for a month.
3. We developed a better/more fun workflow.
4. Now that we’ve learned these new skills, each and every one of us is capable to report a bug (at least a small one).
5. Not only that, but some of us discovered some “self- talents” we weren’t aware of before.
6. The team spirit got sooo much greater. We were all in this together 🎶(imagine the scene from High School Musical)
7. Others got inspired for new monthly challenges, even though they now feel threatened by the QA team (oh well).
8. The relationship between our developers and QA’s was great, but this way it got even better.
9. Laughing. So much laughing.
10. Considering devs can test an app through the eyes of a tester now (kinda), it allows an even higher quality in products.
Jelena, who’s been a QA intern in COBE for the last few months said that, even though it was a challenge made up for the non QA’s, this represented a sort of a challenge to her too; she was testing her knowledge and skills gained in the last 6 months in COBE. Besides that, she just loved torturing us with those questions and was consumed by her power. Nothing unusual here.
Let’s put aside a better workflow and better relationships built between teams and focus on another benefit this challenge brought — higher quality products.
Now that developers have the chance to test out the apps, (like real QA’s, putting all their new knowledge to use), before sending them out, bugs don’t stand a chance of surviving! Our products are now being double-checked; both by developers and QA’s. Now that’s a quality product.
It’s been two weeks since the challenge ended and the board with all the results, flags and the swords are still in the same place. Okay, maybe it’s because we’re a bit lazy to put them away but mostly it’s because nobody wants to accept the fact that it’s over. We sound like an ex girlfriend in denial, we know.
Even though it took a lot of their time, the QA’s say they miss it too: “I thought I’m going to feel a kind of relief when it ends, since it took a lot of my time and some nerves, but I really miss messing around with you all”, says Dolores.
Some of the funniest reported bugs:
1. “Wtf? Not centered”
2. “Menu looks catastrophic”
3. “Bad menu”
4. “The coat of arms of Croatia is blurry”
5. “Their responsive is just lame”
6. “The search bar is stupid”
7. “It’s not centered, just like me”
8. “The word looks ugly”
9. “A weird behaviour of the border”
10. “Web — dead links”