Creating a test lab

This week sees the development team moving in to new offices. In these new offices is our newly created test lab. A room for testers to hang out and also a place for us to keep our supported devices.

There’s loads of work to do to get the test lab functioning and adding value for us.

It’s been lead by Raji (Twitter – @peppytester) and Andrew (Twitter – @coyletester)

We’re in a good place with our test environments as they are hosted, just like our great call centre product, in the cloud so we don’t have to store or house our physical servers here in the office test lab.

However, we need to make phone calls and connect via the web hence the test lab – a place to do this, but also a place for the team to get together to do our regular regression testing.

We have the capacity to do our testing with these devices already, but they are localised around individual testers with devices often locked away in a drawer somewhere. Not good for the collaboration and sharing we need to do now as we grow much much bigger. The lab is a way of getting a centralised set of kit, a place to test and a place for us to come together to talk about testing, our test approaches and our supported devices.

Test Lab
Test Lab

Here’s some “starter for ten” goals/requirements we’ve identified for the lab. Obviously the specific details are not listed here but they give you a flavor of what we’re aiming for.

  1. All supported devices and phone carriers must be available in the lab. (i.e. if we support it – we need to test it)
  2. All devices should be charged and ready to use. (i.e. there’s no point needing a device/phone and then having to wait to use it because it’s got a flat battery)
  3. All devices should have a shared folder or other sharing faciltiy on them (Evernote notebook is one example of how we can share screenshots, findings and notes).
  4. The devices must not be plugged in and charging 24/7 unless they are being used. (Although the devices need to be available we don’t want to destroy the planet by charging them all day everyday when they are not being used. We’ll experiment with timers to give them a burst of juice to keep them functioning and tweak it to get a decent balance.)
  5. At busy periods it must be possible to book out devices, but this booking system should be a last resort, and should be a friction free as possible – a casual approach to sharing the devices should be sought first before booking forms and other waste are introduce. (i.e. it takes time to fill out forms, book things and deal with the “paperwork”. What if you just want ten minutes of usage…it’s a massive overhead to book it out. Add this overhead if needed but let’s see how it goes first)
  6. All devices will be connected to the network, clearly labelled (resolution, network, IP address etc) and available in the right place (i.e. people put them back where they come from)
  7. The phones should be included in our generic “default” call plans meaning all testers know where to get extra devices and phones from (i.e. when needed people should be able to easily add these devices to their accounts and gain access to them)
  8. All devices should have quick, one step log in and access (i.e. unless security is compromised let’s make it as frictionless as possible to use these devices and phones)
  9. A monitor showing NewRelic (plus other test related data) should be available in the lab. (i.e. data informed testing and feedback from your testing are key to the right focus)
  10. All default call plans and test accounts should be well documented and easy to follow meaning new starters can rapidly learn how to get on clouds quickly. (i.e. make it quick to get testing in the lab)
  11. There should be a number of network ports and power sockets available to house groups of testers doing testing. (i.e. when a group of testers (what’s the collective term for that???) get together is there enough power and cabling?)
  12. All test related books should be relocated to the test lab (i.e. when we need inspiration it should be there)
  13. Elisabeth Hendrickson’s cheat sheet will be available – ideally blown up and made to look freaking awesome. (i.e. ideas for testing should look good as well as be functional)
  14. The test lab should remain looking neat, tidy and welcoming (i.e. clean, simple, tidy and functional environments help to clear the mind for focus on productive stuff)

And there we have it. A starter for ten. But something to head towards.

I’ll keep you posted, as I’m sure Raji and Andrew will on Twitter about how we get on.

What do you all have in your test labs?

3 thoughts on “Creating a test lab

  1. That is going to be one amazing test lab. Great to hear your ideas for keeping devices charged, something I always seem to get wrong. I hope we’ll get to see some photos of the lab once it’s up and running.

    I always like to think the collective noun for a group of testers is a Gaggle. Geese are amazing at team work but pretty threatening on-mass.

    1. I like that – a gaggle- awesome.

      I will indeed be sharing photos.

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