Here is my blog post about sharing at Songkick, I promised Helena I would post a month ago. Oops!
First a bit of a back story.
I joined Songkick over 6 months ago now! This seems crazy! Where does the time go?!
Anyways back to the back story:
If I think back to 6 or 7 months ago and how little I knew and how much I know now (and how much I know I don’t know) about the company and the tech, the domain, the people, job roles and responsibilities, that is an incredible amount of information to have to learn in a short time.
Luckily Songkick does a couple of awesome things that really helped with this. Here are a few ways in no particular order:
This is new and still being trailed, so it is important to give feedback but the idea and general execution was good.
So what is on-boarding at Songkick? Regardless of the job role you joined as, during the first few weeks you will be invited to presentations (mostly remote ones for me), from different people of the business. These cover many different topics, some are about the domain, certain departments or processes.
This may feel like information overload, but the most important thing to remember from on-boarding sessions, I think, is the topic and who to associate with it, so you can ask more detailed questions later and know who has the information.
These sessions were quite intense, but for me they became handy very quickly, as I knew who to contact to help me figure out who uses a certain system and who we would need to help test a scenario, or even find out what a scenario may be.
Understanding how your users (internally and externally) use the systems your team builds is such valuable information for testers.
Testing specific meetings:
Being the first, second tester in the company for a long time, this was unstructured, which has its benefits and downfalls.
Luckily the approach has been taken that if you have been asked to explain something, you write it up. So there was lots of relevant documentation on how to test certain things. These were super useful, as I did not have to rely on someone to be around, but could figure things out.
We also did mind maps of areas to have in depth sessions on, so I could learn about the other details of the system that may not be obvious. I found it interesting to make a learning plan using mind maps. It has been a nice experience though and I like the informal format of those sessions.
What was important too, was to learn about the history of certain features, to be able to look for backwards compatibility if needed.
As a downfall for an unstructured approach, you could say that, we may have missed stuff in my on-boarding process initially, but then I am not worried to ask if I come across something to be given the information instead. Sometimes that is a more rewarding experience, and also the information is more likely to stick if you had to seek it out yourself.
Every Wednesday lunchtime there is a slot reserved for the technology team to do a talk. This is accessible remotely, so anyone interested can dial in.
The topics for this can be anything, new tools, discoveries, experiments, oddities of screen sizes in Android, key takeaways from conferences, etc. Our next one is actually a Docker workshop!
These are relatively informal and more often than not inspire a nice discussion. I like these because they are generally technical and it is a good intro for me to learn some terms and then research them further.
Outcomes of experiments are always fun as well, because they are generally trying to solve a deeper tech problem which is outlined first and then a possible solution is presented. This always gets me thinking about testing the new solution and also if we are missing anything in the current one.
Show and Tell:
Show and Tell is a special thing. This for us in the UK happens on a Friday afternoon, involves the whole company, and generally some alcoholic drink. I don’t drink so I don’t care about the alcohol but it seems to be a nice tradition.
Show and Tell is open to anyone in the business but whatever you show cannot exceed 5 minutes. The format is very informal and usually is more of a demo than a presentation. The sort of stuff we see are:
- Developers showing improvements to a tool, process, feature.
- Business development may show some interesting campaign they won or lost.
- Support may show case a nice, angry or funny support case.
- Any internal tools that improved productivity.
- UI and UX guys may show a new concept or something they learned from research.
What I love about this, is that someone is always showing something. And you get to see what people are passionate about and that they care about their job. It also gives you an insight into problems teams have with tools or products and may give ideas on how to solve them. The other things that is great is that this is that the whole company gets involved to show something.
Breakfast Code Club:
I have not been able to go to many of these yet but they are quite fun. The idea is that something to do with code can be shown off. This does not have to be work related. It can be a side project.
- A game
- Trying to solve poker algorithm
- A pun generator (my fave!)
- Solving ciphers.
Sometimes the stuff showcased is work related and this time can be used for a code review as well.
The other selling point is that it is a nice way to mingle with colleagues you may not naturally work with and also there are pastries!
The film Breakfast Club was released 31 years ago … yep we are getting old! 🙂