Quality Assurance is more than just preventing errors and checking for bugs. It’s one more of many ways Luckie ensures that we deliver excellence to our clients time after time. When Luckie develops and launches a website for a client, QA is a crucial component in that process. Finding hidden problem spots in a site requires creative thinking, which in turn necessitates a person who is able to bring innovative techniques to the practice. We talked to Jillian Ryan, Luckie’s Junior QA Analyst, about how she keeps pace in an ever-changing digital world and how she brings creativity and collaboration to the world of QA.
You began your career in law enforcement and then changed direction to work in IT. How did that unlikely shift come about, and how’s it working out for you so far? Do you ever miss police work?
I’ve always been interested in criminal justice. I blame my mom since I distinctly remember the “Bad Boys” song from Cops as the soundtrack to my childhood. While interning with the police was a lot of fun, it was during that time that I knew law enforcement in particular was not what I wanted to do. At this point, I was at a standstill. I was already out of my comfort zone, and while searching for jobs, I knew I needed to become more tech savvy. I talked with a lot of my friends, scoured job sites trying to figure out what was in demand and finally decided to take a Quality Assurance (QA) class. At first I wondered if I would like it, but I must say, I enjoy QA work a lot more than I thought I would. No day is ever the same. I am interacting with people constantly (not in the back of a cruiser), and my opinion is always listened to and considered. Additionally, I work with some outstanding people who really do make my job fun and highly rewarding.
I do miss the aspects of being able to help people in the community. However, I think that being at Luckie means I am able to help people in another way – through my work. Being at Luckie has certain advantages, like being able to have a cold one after a rough meeting…or after a not-so-rough meeting!
Have the investigative aspects of your education in criminal justice ever proven to be applicable to QA analysis? If so, what’s an example?
When I was working with Crime Scene Investigation (CSI), we were always told to look for things that weren’t there – this has helped me with QA work tremendously. One of my favorite aspects of QA is thinking outside the box and trying my hardest to break the site (the developers make it harder than it seems!). There is a lot more to QA than just checking changes, especially with the advanced websites Luckie is developing.
How did you come by your in-depth knowledge of IT?
I was very green when I started at Luckie, and sometimes I feel like I still am. There is so much to learn, and technology changes so frequently that it can be a whirlwind. I try to keep up as best I can by reading blog posts and a few books here and there and taking a few classes to further my knowledge. The best training I have had has been working at Luckie and really getting to know the sites and the clients’ wants and needs. I plan on taking in-person classes this year to make sure I am confident and on top of some automated testing we will soon be implementing.
What types of projects are you typically involved in at Luckie? What are some of the biggest or most complex projects you’ve worked on?
Right now I am very heavily involved with one of our pharma clients, ViiV. This is my first experience working on anything pharma-related, and it has been a fast-paced experience that has taught me a lot. A lot of my time is dedicated to ViiV, but I also touch just about everything the development team is working on, including Piedmont, Little Debbie and Express Oil Change. I recently QA’d this Luckie blog (no bugs found!), so I should have known this questionnaire was coming my way!
The biggest projects I work on are ViiV websites. This summer was especially busy, with a number of sites getting ready to launch. While not necessarily very complex (at least functionality-wise), working on multiple sites at once can be a challenge. However, we have pushed more than four sites live without a hitch, so finally getting to see the fruits of our labor has been very rewarding. One of the most complex projects I’ve worked on was Schutt Sports. We built a customizable Content Management System (CMS), which was something I had never worked on before. It was a completely new concept to me – and I must admit – a little nerve-racking to test.
Considering how rapidly technology and specifically web applications change, how do you keep pace in order to devise testing strategies that align with the most current development methodologies?
Keeping up is one of the hardest parts of my job. Working on 10 or more websites at a time can get overwhelming, especially at the rapid pace that things change. No website is the same, so it really depends on what the client is looking for and what Luckie is providing. This helps me determine the kind of testing to be done. In addition, I like to keep myself very organized. I have a system of folders for each website, and I keep detailed test cases so I am always able to go back and check if I get stuck.
Since a big part of your job is to identify and correct defects to ensure finished product quality, do you ever feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders?
You know, I like to think I have some pretty strong shoulders! There have definitely been times where I have missed bugs; however, I like to think of our sites as children, and we all know it takes a village. I cannot reiterate how amazing the people I work with are. If I need help, there is always someone willing to go out of their way to do whatever they can. I not only work with some rock-star developers, but the project managers and SE team do more than their share of the work.
What’s been the most difficult problem/quality issue you’ve ever had to solve?
Overall, creating a process to ensure that the development of user stories and test cases are followed is always something that can be worked on. When implementing a new process, it takes a lot of encouragement and examples to show that it will reduce mistakes and make all of our lives a bit easier. Clients’ requirements change constantly, so keeping up is a difficult issue that always requires a lot of back and forth.
“The Luckie 7” is an interview series in which we sit down with people at Luckie to talk about areas of expertise and what it means to be part of a human experience agency. Want more from #LuckieHumans? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.